Ortolana is one of the rare few places that absolutely deserves every bit of the hype surrounding it. I was initially skeptical when I first read the rave reviews, in part due to the crushing blow dealt to my ego by having had to Google half of the terms used on their menu. I had never heard of ‘nduja’, ‘escabeche, ‘crudo’, or ‘piadina’, and my impression of ‘quark’ was that of something that probably came out of the Large Hadron Collider.
Despite the humbling experience, however, curiosity got the better of me and I dragged the bf over to see what all the fuss was about – boy, was I glad I did. The setting was pleasant and charming, a chic little bistro set in the Britomart shopping precinct, decorated with little shrubs and fairy lights. There was a large communal table down the middle of the indoor area, but plenty of individual seating by the sides as well as out in the courtyard. The affable waiters seated us quite quickly and presented us with the menus – which, despite all my initial Googling, had changed and now contained other mysterious terms.
But it did not matter. We chose two mains and a side dish at random, and all came out beautifully presented and wonderfully delicious. To be honest, I don’t even recall exactly what we ordered that first time, and the menu has changed multiple times since. We’ve been there on a semi-regular basis and have had crayfish pasta, gnocchi with mozzarella, roast lamb, pasta with yolk and truffles, an omelette of some sort… and each one was good enough to keep us coming back for more. For the price, the quality of the food can’t be beat.
I could enthuse further about the desserts on offer, but will save that for a separate post, as Ortolana takes its desserts from the nearby patisserie Milse. As an added bonus, they are open throughout the day and well into the night, rather than having specific lunch and dinner times.
Cost: $20-$30 per person
Value for money: