Mr Ottorino, where The Commoner used to be on Johnston St, is a new Sicilian restaurant with a long menu and an amazing wine list. There are many smallish plates to share and this makes ordering difficult. You start with an amuse bouche of small arancini, and it was good to be told that because we were about to order the big arancini on the menu.

mr-ottorino-1 dinner at Mr Ottorino on Johnston St

Below: eggplant fritters; preserved, raw and smoked tuna with fennel and grapefruit; oak smoked trout with coffee, fregola and tomato broth; cuttlefish with polenta and kale; roast potatoes; cannoli; and caramelised fig and mascarpone tart. We were in the mood for fish! The smoked tuna was spectacular.

mr-ottorino-2 dinner at Mr Ottorino on Johnston St

I loved the Hauner Salina bianco (a blend of catarratto and inzolia) from Salina (one of the Aeolian Islands off the north-eastern coast of Sicily). I once stood on the beach at Gioiosa Marea in Sicily and looked at Salina in the misty horizon, but I digress. The wine from the region is excellent.

mr-ottorino-8 dinner at Mr Ottorino on Johnston St

The front dining room is as loud and cosy as it was previously, though it feels different as you now enter from the side hallway rather than the old front door, which allows for an additional table in the front room.

mr-ottorino-3 dinner at Mr Ottorino on Johnston St

Mr Ottorino is a great addition to Fitzroy. I’m sure I’ll return as I really enjoyed the food and it made me nostalgic for youthful travels. Of the dishes I loved the cuttlefish, while my companion was less certain about the ink sauce and preferred the trout in tomato broth.

mr-ottorino-4 dinner at Mr Ottorino on Johnston St

mr-ottorino-5 dinner at Mr Ottorino on Johnston St

I was also interested in visiting for a different reason. A few years back two froyo places opened about the same time almost opposite each other on Brunswick St. Neither lasted long. A couple of years ago two craft beer bars opened next door to each other on Smith St. Two Row, a small cosy space, seems to be doing well while Lot 347, a big soulless barn, has failed.

mr-ottorino-6 dinner at Mr Ottorino on Johnston St

Now Johnston St has two Sicilian Italian restaurants only a few blocks from each other. The other is Ibla Cucina Italiana, which I will review next. I’m curious about why this duality seems to keep happening, and whether both restaurants can survive.

mr-ottorino-7 dinner at Mr Ottorino on Johnston St

dinner at Mr Ottorino on Johnston St

3 thoughts on “dinner at Mr Ottorino on Johnston St

  • 30 June 2016 at 10:39 pm
    Permalink

    I definitely enjoyed the food, the smoked fish being the highlight.
    I’d say it was on-value … some dishes had amazing details and flavours, and some were simple; and while happy with the meal, I wasn’t as super-impressed as I was hoping for.
    Unfortunately we may have popped in on an evening when they were a staff-member short?? There seemed to be some tension between the bar and wait staff… but I sincerely hope that was a one-off.
    All the above said, I would happily return.

    Reply
    • 1 July 2016 at 12:16 am
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      I forgot about that. I ordered a second glass of wine that seemed to be forgotten. Front of house man doing the front room was rushing around, and they did seem understaffed. When I asked him where it was he complained about the bar woman being too slow. Not cool to criticise your staff or colleagues to the customers. Should have sucked it up and fixed it.

      Reply
      • 1 July 2016 at 12:15 pm
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        I believe his words were “she’s not the sharpest” … ouch

        Reply

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