Nico Osteria tries to out-Gold Coast all of the other restaurants in the Gold Coast. In today’s world that means it’s trying to be Kim Kardashian in a room full of Instagram models. And it also means that while Nico Osteria may be immensely popular with the general public, we aren’t totally buying it.
There’s no denying the space is beautiful. It’s modern and sexy with large windows that make Nico bright during the day and dimly lit at night. It’s a well-run operation that’s great to impress people who love a trendy restaurant. But you can’t totally judge a book by its cover.
Our problems with Nico are the lack of consistency in quality food and the fact it's extremely expensive for what you get. The menu is split into a number of different sections, and we feel differently about each. Nico is known for their crudos, and the extensive crudo selection that changes daily is excellent. If you want to post up at the large bar overlooking the open kitchen for crudos and cocktails then that's a great move. But things are hit and miss from there.
Some of the small plates sound interesting, like swordfish ‘nudja with watermelon, but it doesn't taste very good. Pastas are meant to be half portions for sharing but they’re more like ⅛ portions, overpriced, and hit or miss. And while the whole fishes and meats are solid, we expect a $70 whole branzino to either be excellent or sh*t out gold bricks - neither is the case.
And therein lies our issues with Nico Osteria overall. One one hand, it's worth going to impress a date over crudos, oysters, and cocktails. On the other hand, the beautiful dining room and crowd distracts from the fact it's offensive to charge as much as they do for certain plates that don't deliver on taste. And by the end of a full-fledged dinner it all feels a little scripted and fake, kind of like the Kardashians.
As mentioned the crudos are all excellent. We are all for posting up at the bar facing the open kitchen to eat a bunch of raw fish and have a few drinks. The crudo menu changes daily so it’s tough to say what will be available, but anything is worth a try. The Chef’s Selection is always smart.
This small plate ultimately isn't doing it for us. It tastes like a smoked whitefish spread on triangular pieces of watermelon, and one bite is enough experimenting with that.
A basic prosciutto and melon dish with some cheese and fried dough bits. Great prosciutto, but we don’t think the soft sheep’s milk cheese pairs well with the meat. That could be a personal thing.
Caesar salad with little gem lettuce, anchovy-fig dressing, caper berry, and parmesan. Too much dressing. Also, one caperberry sliced horizontally into 15 tiny pieces does not constitute caperberries on a salad.
We’re calling shenanigans on this dish. A few square pieces of sheet pasta and two small bits of lobster doesn’t cut it. And even if it were a good portion, the tomato and creme fraiche sauce is totally bland.
Unlike the lasagnette this is excellent pasta. Pappardelle stuffed with milk braised pork alongside some carrot and black truffle. We really enjoy this pasta, but again, tiny portion.
Whole branzino with marinated eggplant, preserved cherry tomato, and dill for $48/lb. We get it, farm raised branzino goes for a high market price, but while this fish is good, it’s not around $70 good.
Brunch and lunch are great alternative times to hit Nico when you don't have to worry about getting caught up in overpriced whole fishes. The breakfast- like items are great and you can still mix in some of their excellent crudos.