Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including 121BC, 90 Secondi, Bare Bones Society, and Peel St.
Mitch Orr is one versatile spaghetti slinger. With time at Pilu and Buzo under his belt, he has a grounding in tradition, but as a former Duke co-head chef and an Osteria Francescana stagiaire, he's also happy to use that grounding to leap off into flights of fancy that are both fresh and compelling. At his new gig, cooking at nano-wine bar 121BC (pictured here), he's doing a brilliant dish that lays the savour and spice of mussels and 'nduja over the sweetness of charred baby leeks, adorns radishes and pickled salumi with bottarga butter, and dresses purple broccolini with an anchovy-spiked pangrattato that more or less demands something pervy or orange from 121's ever-intriguing all-Italian list. It's a menu that's wine-friendly, well priced, and a lot of fun. 121BC, 4/50 Holt St (entry via Gladstone St), Surry Hills, (02) 9699 1582. PAT NOURSE
Fans of footy and authentic Neapolitan pizza hit the jackpot earlier this month when 90 Secondi opened in the shadow of Etihad Stadium. Named for the time a trad pizza from Napoli spends in the oven, the hefty 150-seat pizzeria is owned by Johnny Di Francesco, who has come to be recognised as one of Melbourne's best purveyors of the pie through his work at East Brunswick's 400 Gradi. A smart timber and marble fit-out includes an open kitchen where a domed and tiled wood-fired oven, custom-made in Naples, is the focus. The slightly chewy pizza has a distinctive thin crust freckled with char and is topped sparingly with the authentic likes of San Marzano tomatoes, Levoni prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella and basil. There are pasta and meat dishes, too, greatest-hit snacks of the zucchini flower and Caprese salad ilk and a sharp drinks list that'll have you cheering before you've set foot in the stadium. 90 Secondi, 700 Bourke St, Docklands, (03) 9600 2841. MICHAEL HARDEN
Bare Bones Society
Jindalee isn't the first place you'd seek out a former star of the Brisbane fine-dining scene. But as the name of Kym Machin's café suggests, the former Urbane chef's new venture is about the simple necessities. Happily, in Machin's world "necessities" include the likes of fish and chip butties incorporating flathead fillets, and "sandwiches" such as the Southern, a crunchy-crusted warm cob roll wrapped around shreds of pork with cheddar, pickles and a cracking chipotle mayo. Blackboard specials range further, encompassing bistro-style plates such as chilli-spiked seafood linguine or Angus burgers. It has a liquor licence, too, and plans are afoot to hatch a deck to cope with bustling weekend trade. Bare Bones Society, Shop 22, Jindalee Homemaker Centre, 34 Goggs Rd, Jindalee, (07) 3715 5571. FIONA DONNELLY
The 90-seat Peel St, opened by former Aquacaf team members Ben McLeod and chef Jordan Theodoros, makes the most of Adelaide's new small-bar licences, serving great casual food but also bringing in the drinks drop-in crowd. Choose from prepared food slid along the long service counter (lamb shank empanadas, roasted pumpkin with green tahini, toasted sunflower and pepitas), and a blackboard menu offers treats straight from the grill. Yes, the Aquacaf mulloway pasty makes guest appearances, but there are also other interesting blends of Middle Eastern and Asian flavours, not least the turkey meatballs braised with preserved lemon, pearl barley, mint and broad beans. Peel St, 9 Peel St, Adelaide, (08) 8231 8887. DAVID SLY
Got a hot tip for our Hot Plates team? Tweet us at @gourmettweets, or tag your Instagram photos with #GThotplates.