Since leaving the corporate ladder, I nowadays rarely dine in the CBD on a weeknight. But on this particular occasion, I was invited to check out the newly opened Vessel Italian which sits on the ground floor of the Macquarie building.

Vessel is split into three dining experiences – Vessel Italian, Vessel Cafe and Vessel Bar. The decor is beautiful, open and airy – paired with a substantial contemporary menu, it looked like just the formula for nearby office workers to grab an after-work bite. Meanwhile for me, it was date night.

Vessel Italian - bread and olive oil

The stuzzichini options are right up my alley. Think of nuts roasted with chilli and rosemary ($6) or mixed marinated olives served with house-made grissini ($6.50). We end up with two suppli’al telephono each ($3 each). These are the Roman version of Sicily’s arancini; fried risotto rice balls with mozzarella, basil and saffron. They’re piping hot and scrumptiously stringy.

Vessel Italian - suppli al telephono - fried saffron risotto balls with mozzarella and basil

This is the Vessel Valentine ($14), an awakening cocktail featuring raspberry vodka, lychee liqueur, fresh strawberry and red bull.

Vessel Italian - cocktail

Vessel Italian - anipasti

Onto the antipasti, although I was truly tempted with the fried local calamari ($17.50), I made a wiser choice and opt for the insalata di mozzarella di buffala ($18.50), a salad of prosciutto, tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella.

Vessel Italian - insalata di mozzarella di buffala, proscuitto, tomato and basil

We also share the asparagi alla millanese ($15.50) which is grilled asparagus with poached truffled egg and parmesan. We break open the perfectly poached egg and watch the yolk flood onto the asparagus, picking up bits of truffle butter and parmesan along the way. It’s such a simple combination but so luxuriously rich in flavour.

Vessel Italian -asparagi all millanese - grilled asparagus, poached truffled egg and parmesan

Vessel Italian - main course

For our mains, I couldn’t go past the bistecca di manzo alla fiorentina ($38.50 for one/500g and $59.50 for two/1kg). It was honestly, one of the best steaks I have ever had! You can’t beat a tastefully charred t-bone – a perfect blushing pink medium on the inside, and sensationally aromatic and flavoursome on the outside, thanks to the magic of gremolata.

Vessel Italian - bistecca di manzo alla fiorentina - grilled t-bone served with fried potatoes and gremolata

Conversely, the marinara pizza ($23.50) was extremely disappointing. Everything about it seemed wrong, from the finely chopped king prawns, salmon, clams and fennel, to the dull pizza base and bland tomato sauce.

Vessel Italian - marinara pizza

The side dish, a wholesome panzanella ($11.50) tomato, fennel and bread salad was slightly better.

Vessel Italian - side of panzanella - tuscan tomato, fennel and bread salad

Vessel Italian - contemporary dining

My verdict? It has the makings of a stylish restaurant but somehow the menu is a hit and miss and the service is a bit awkward. Stick to the antipasti and grill for a winning meal.

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Vessel Italian
1a Shelley Street, King Street Wharf, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9295 5070

Vessel on Urbanspoon
JENIUS & partner dined as guests of Vessel Italian & Bar and drinks were paid for in full


  1. Looks like it was a nice location for a meal. Shame about the pizza. I don’t understand when places get these things wrong, when it’s not that hard to produce.


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