Reviewed March 1, 2016
Norton Street Leichhardt is going through a bit of a renaissance, and it’s great to see an Italian restaurant, which is what the area is known for, doing so well. Moretti has been operating for 17 years on Norton, though now in a larger premises in the renovated Palace cinema complex. That makes it a great place for a post-movie pizza!
All the waitstaff are Italian, which certainly adds to the charm. Don’t be afraid to try out your “buona seras” as you head inside the space which has a warm industrial kitchen feel.
The menu is extensive, with a full range of antipasti, pasta dishes, mains, and wood fired pizzas. There are also regularly changing specials in each of these categories.
The Pappardelle al Ragu d’Agnello (thick ribbon pasta with lamb ragu) was a hearty start to the meal. Tender pieces of lamb in a simple sauce that allowed the meat to shine. A dusting of good quality parmigiano (parmesan) made this pasta sing. We also had spinaci saltati (salted spinach) as a side – classically italian, where the salt removes the bitterness of the leaves.
Capricciosa is always my go-to pizza variety. It translates as “capricious”, most likely from its toppings which reflect an eclectic Roman feast. Moretti’s capricciosa is delicious – a thin wood fired base with proscuitto, mushroom, artichoke and an egg cracked in the centre. Be warned: the Roman-style thin base just means you can eat more than you first thought. If you’re not sure which pizza to order, have a drink at the bar near the wood fired oven, and chat with the staff until you spy one you like. A pizza you like, ladies.
Moving on to i dolci (sweets). It’s well known that when Italians eat Italian food, they inevitably compare it to something made by an important woman in their life – their mama, nonna or zia. One has to be flexible when it comes to tiramisu (“pick me up”), however, as there are almost as many versions as there are Italian restaurants. That’s also part of the beauty of the dish: if you’re into coffee and cream (and who isn’t?) it’s always great to try a different tiramisu. Moretti’s rendition was a perfect end to a big meal – super light and fluffy with a good balance between the coffee and liqueur. It was obviously fresh and made with care - and very close to my own favourite recipe!