The experience of chef Michael Michael is vast. He started with an apprenticeship in 1982 and continued his education under the French Canadian, Serge Dansereav, at the 5-star Regent Hotel till 1986. When the trend of food changed from French to Italian, the hotel imported Italian chefs from Italy for two months to teach traditional and modern techniques of Italian cooking. From there, the young chef took things into his own hands and opened the Crepe Escape in Darling Harbour, winning accolades, and then worked for many Italian restaurants. Fast forward to 2017, and he has now opened the newest Italian eatery on King St, Newtown, called Planet Italy.
Which way is the planet going, and who is controlling it? What’s more important is that the food is high quality cooked and presented fresh, hot and full of old-fashioned flavour. This the culture of the owners, with big plans to add a drink bar, coffee and desserts in partnership with Coca Cola. They have a range of new special mixes coming, which will be revealed at the launch party, when the bar is finished. As far as the menu goes, the pasta and the homemade gnocchi will also get the royal treatment with new combinations that are sure to amaze even the most travelled costumer. All the concepts are a combination of many years’ experience and a fresh new look at what Italian cooking can achieve. The Planet Italy staff can’t wait until it starts and are excited about the future!
229A King St, Newtown
ph: 0437 147 747
Plastic garlic braids, grape vines and shiny mandarins dangle from leafy green trellises. Oversized wine glasses filled with red liquid adorn the tables, and a black and white photo of New York takes up one whole wall .Newtown newcomer, Planet Italy, has nearly all the hallmarks of one of that city’s red sauce restaurants, located in Little Italy in lower Manhattan. All that is missing here are Chianti bottle candleholders, and red and white-chequered tablecloths.
Appropriately, I’m soon tucking into a prawn-topped chicken parmigiana ($19.90), made in the popular Italian-American style, swimming in a lake of red sauce. It’s one option from a short menu arranged into traditional and gourmet pastas, and chicken or veal dishes. By way of entrees, owner and chef Michael Michael trialled a self-service antipasto bar, but the all-you-can-eat enthusiasm of early diners means you now get your antipasti and salad bar ($12.90) dished up for you.
The red sauce connection continues onto chalkboard specials, popping up in barramundi in smoked salmon creamy sauce ($33). The pork belly with roasted fig and red wine ($33) is successful, though my surprising meal highlight were fluffy wedges ($8.90) served up healthily on an odd collection of raw vegetables.
Publisher of Does My Bomb look Big in This
Planet Italy, like its name and décor, is a cross between art gallery and a super heroes animation. Think blue tone lights, but heaps of artwork and wine. Yes, wine.
Located in the heart of Newtown, the burbs of eclectic-ness and hipster, Planet Italy definitely doesn’t look out of place. It serves some simple hearty Italian dishes, from antipasti to pasta to more substantial dishes such as schnitzel and fish.
We start the evening off with some malbec and pinot gris. A round of introduction ensues before plates of antipasti land in front of us. It’s a mixed plate of goodies from their antipasti bar, and the standout on this mixed plate was definitely the mushrooms, pickled and tangy.
After a short wait we are presented with three mains from their rotating specials menu. The standout for me here is the pork belly with figs: juicy, tender pork in a sweet tangy sauce, mmmm!
They have a special deal for the upcoming Mother’s Day where you can snag a 3 course meal for $30pp, definitely an affordable option when places book out or are charging exorbitant amounts for celebratory days.
Planet Italy has only been opened for six weeks and I’m sure they are still finding their feet and settling into a new place. With Chef Michael’s experience, I’m sure that will happen very soon.
Weekend Food Escapes:
This is Michael Michael’s first Newtown restaurant after a long history of working and running several surburban eateries. With a European background, he brings the surburban Italian theme into Planet Italy. I feel like I’ve been transported back to the 90s. I touch the plastic garlic and plastic fruit as I soak in the atmosphere.
We each get an antipasto plate of miscellaneous mushrooms, olives, capsicum, meats, omelette and garlic bread. Then we share a bunch of mains including the chicken schnitty topped with prawns. The vegetarians will enjoy the potato wedge salad with crunchy vegetables; this dish is simple but I like it.
There’s also the pork belly with crackle, drizzled in a red wine and fig sauce. This the crowd favourite: the pork belly is well cooked in the slightly sweet sauce, and who can resist a crunchy crackle?
If by chance you get to meet the owner Michael Michael, please commend him on his many preserved references that have been carefully looked after. I am very impressed that he has so many documents in prime condition from the 80s.
Watch this space, as they are also installing a new drinks bar and will be progressively implementing a stable menu with desserts. The Mother’s day special is incredibly high on value if you’re looking for a cheaper option to spend with the family.
Mother’s Day special
on Sunday May 14.
For $29, you can order a three course meal that will include an antipasto plate with garlic bread, your choice of main and a dessert.