by Stephanie Williams
Sometimes you just need to go back to a place and rediscover it all over again. When Fico first opened back in 2016, I enjoyed the full experience of the tasting menu and savoured every dish. It was a little bit wild (a whole fish head where we picked out the jowls, and discretely covered the fish’s eye staring at us) and a little bit memorable (handmade spaghetti with simple cacio e pepe but with a taste of honey, I still dream about it). So now, three years on, it was time to check in with Fico again.
Chef Oskar Rossi left Tasmania to work with Shannon Bennett at Vue de monde in Melbourne then flew even further afield to work in the north of Italy. It was while he was there that he met Federica Andrisani, a fellow chef from Naples. They moved back to Hobart and after a series of pop ups, they opened Fico together. The vibe is one of youthfulness and hospitality – the dining room feels energetic but not overwhelming and the menu is ever-changing and seasonally responsive.
While you need to be a little organised and book larger tables in advance, we booked a couple of last minute bar seats without too much trouble. It’s a great love of mine to sit at a kitchen or bar when dining out – you can experience the stress or calm of a kitchen and be privy to the passing comments and conversations of the wait staff. The bar seats at Fico didn’t disappoint. We enjoyed watching the skilled bartender make negroni after negroni, all within eyeshot of Federica and Oskar at the pass.
But to the food. We started with bread, baked in house and served with bright green and grassy fig leaf oil. I wanted to drink it, it was that delicious. We shot down a few briny Barilla Bay oysters then snacked on a crispy length of brioche decked out with Ortiz anchovy and fennel pollen, and glossy cubes of Kingfish with soy, wasabi and coriander. My partner also tried the Scallop boudin blanc with Portugese cabbage and crab sauce.
Possibly my favourite dish of the night was the simplest. The team at Fico make all their own pasta, which shouldn’t be a surprise, so at least one pasta dish is a must. On the menu on this night was Spaghetti with mussels, turmeric and tomato water. I’m not a fan of mussels (as opposed to muscles, ha) and turmeric isn’t an ingredient I’d normally associate with Italian style cooking. But we ordered it anyway and it was incredible. Perfect pasta with a glossy, light, tomato-laced sauce.
I currently can’t eat dairy so a few of the menu options were scrubbed out for me, but I never felt like I missed out at Fico. There are also plenty of gluten free options and a few vegetarian dishes or substitutions. In light of this, for dessert we ordered the honey gelato and white balsamic meringue with hibiscus. The kitchen kindly switched out the dairy components and served up what I thought could possibly be even better – the balsamic meringue but with mandarin sorbet and a lick of licorice sauce.
By this time, we get the call up from our babysitter that our presence was required at home, so the staff were super speedy in getting us paid up, coats on and out the door. Fico was well worth the revisit.
151 Macquarie Street, Hobart