Criniti’s Restaurant Darling Harbour welcomed us for a phenomenal tasting experience, featuring 3 courses: starters, mains, desserts, and drinks to boot. Seated in the refreshing al fresco area, my guest and I enjoyed a picturesque view of the revolving waterfront ferris wheel by night.
While I have been to the Criniti’s Parramatta location years ago, I quickly realised that what began as a humble husband and wife business, has indeed grown into an outstanding Italian food empire.
We prepared our palates with pre-dinner gin and tonics, then got to work ordering entrees. Standout starters include the never-fail Zucchini Flowers, as well as the Popcorn Prawns (tempura’d, and masked in a delightful chill aioli).
It was a joy to sample their newly introduced Leggera menu this time, which literally translates to “light”. I opted for the sensational Grilled Chicken Salad. What might otherwise have been a “boring order”, turned out to be anything but. The Leggera dish emerged artfully plated — with lemon dressing, tender chicken breast, and brightly-coloured mixed veggies. It was a meal that left me satisfied, yet not overly full — which of course meant plenty of room for dessert.
Our attentive waitress revealed an entirely seperate dessert menu (separate from those featured on the main one). We simply couldn’t go past a classic creme brûlée — uniquely served with assorted berries and icing sugar to top it off.
While Criniti’s offer a plethora of shared cocktail options (including a home-made Sangria boat for four), I ordered a gin-based cocktail of my own (made unique with ginger beer). After that, we tried a whisky sour, lychee martini, and cosmopolitan too. I was supremely impressed that a restaurant could hold its own as a fully-functioning bar serving up all the go-to cocktails, even while delivering a sumptuous, and very extensive food menu.
In fact, I have never seen a more comprehensive menu offering. With gluten-free and vegetarian options — Criniti’s literally offers something for everyone, for whatever mood he or she may find themselves in. The main menu itself fills a double-sided A3 page, which lists literally over 200 individual items to choose from.
Nearby tables celebrated birthdays, and were serenaded in Italian by a team of charismatic waiters. The staff’s good-natured cheer brings an energetic ambience to the restaurant setting. Criniti’s was at all times buzzing with conversation, dim lighting, and background music. I couldn’t help but notice the metre-long pizza delight to my right, a perfectly fun way to break bread among friends.
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of dining at any of the Criniti’s locations — it proves itself a fantastic dinner date spot; as much as it is a group friendly restaurant. You can expect an atmosphere that invites you to stay a while longer.
The About Page of their website reads, “the experience of sharing food with family and friends is one that is very sacred and should be cherished and remembered, which is why at Criniti’s we say, “when you’re here, you’re family…salute!”