The latest eatery to spring up in Beaufort Street is the fine Italian diner, No Menu, from chef Maurizio Di Ciano. No Menu takes over the beautiful building which once housed Ace Pizza and Rockefeller and as its name suggests, has no regular menu, but instead changes every day based on the seasons and whatever the chefs have sourced that day from the markets and suppliers.
This is a beautiful space, with high decorative ceilings and white columns offsetting the exposed brick walls and dark wooden floors. A fantastic mural above the bar catches the eye, but otherwise the room is unadorned. While this allows the food to speak, it also makes it quite noisy when scores of happy diners are all chatting at once.
This may have partially explained the mistakes we experienced during our otherwise excellent meal, with items being missed or forgotten, and one person's entrée arriving when most of us were halfway through mains.
I suspect I would have a very different story to tell had the entire table ordered one of the degustation options, with everyone having the same meal at the same time. There are four to choose from, starting at $50pp for six dishes to $80pp for nine dishes. It's excellent value and perfect for those who want a leisurely and varied meal, and are happy for someone else to make decisions. It would certainly be my choice should I return and precisely what the restaurant was designed for.
Barramundi with lemon and capers (and those awesome roast potatoes)
The other option is to order from the menu, displayed on a large television on the wall. The menu changes every day but it always includes entrees, mains, pizza, pasta and desserts. It can be a little frustrating waiting for the screens to rotate through the options but it's worth it when you consider just how many trees they must save by not having a paper menu.
No Menu creates fine yet family-styled Italian meals – lamb shanks, gnocchi, tiramisu, pizza. It's top quality and full of big flavours, but Italian isn't known for its eye-catching dishes, and while delicious, I think it's fair to say they're not going to fill your Instagram feed anytime soon.
I doubt that's what No Menu was intended for anyway.
The night we visited there were five mains ($33-$39) including lamb shanks, barramundi, veal, pork and roasted baby goat and four desserts ($10) including tiramisu, crème brulee, semifreddo and pannacotta. There were also four pizzas and four pasta options including my choice of gnocchi and goat ragu, and four or five entrees including a delicious (but incredibly tardy) calamari.
Without exception, everyone thought their dinner was delicious. One friend claimed that the roast potatoes were probably the best she had ever eaten (they accompany many of the mains). There aren't a lot of options for vegetarians but the staff were willing to find something that was suitable.
No Menu would suit all sorts of groups, with small tables for two, all the way up to an enormous central table that would seat twenty. There are funky green semi-circular booths along one wall, and black leather booths along the other. If you visit with like-minded (and like-stomached) friends, sharing one of the degustation options would make for an easy, delicious and satisfying night. As a comparison, our group, who all ordered either an entrée and main, or main and dessert (but not both) plus a drink each, spent $55 each. To pay a few coins extra, you could have five different dishes, with both entrée and desserts, and have the heady experience of not having to make any decisions. Delizioso.