Agostini’s

I had such high hopes for Agostini’s, the latest Italian restaurant to open in the Canberra dining scene. The lure of their pink sign and the promise of handmade pasta and authentic pizza easily convinced me to have one of my birthday celebrations there with some close friends.When I had booked two weeks ahead for a Monday night, I thought I was being super organised. It caught me by surprise when I saw that we were expected to leave after two hours for the next booking. I assumed they were super busy and I would endeavour to eat as fast as I could. It turns out that we weren’t rushed at all, there must be a two hour allocated seating time for bookings through Dimmi.

I liked the spacious dining area, it allows for larger groups and even as a table of four, I didn’t feel that we were sitting on top of each other.Entrees~

Calamari fritti lightly fried calamari served with an aioli of grilled lemon & mint ($15.00). Not chewy but nothing special and a tad too salty for my liking.Frico a typical dish from the Friuli region of Italy. Paper thin layers of Montasio cheese & potato, oven roasted to form a heavenly, crunchy, chewy morsel ($10.00). We were all curious to see what this would look like and was surprised to see it so flat despite the description. I think the reason why I enjoyed it so much is that it reminds me of the crunchy part of a lasagna- think a thicker parmesan wafer.Margherita bufala pizza bufala mozzarella, Agostinis’ spice & basil ($22.00). Their pizza bases are really good with good quality toppings. We really enjoyed this.Mains~

Napolitana pizza anchovies, olives, capers, Fior di Latte mozzarella & basil ($22.00) with a request to top it off with rocket ($2.00). My friend really enjoyed his pizza, I think the rocket helped balance all the salty components.Lasagne al ragu classic Italian lasagne with slow cooked wagyu beef, sandwiched between handmade pasta sheets & topped with grated Reggiano Parmigiano ($25.00). I was very disappointed with my lasagne, it had no flavour. Frankly, I’ve had better lasagne from my supermarket.Fusilli funghi corkscrew shaped pasta with mushroom ragù with scamorza cheese & thyme ($22.00). The most flavoursome out of all the pasta dishes on the table but I thought it needed a lot more sauce and ingredients to cover the pasta as some mouthfuls seemed like I was eating plain pasta.Spaghetti alla marinara vongole, prawns, fish, vino bianco, cherry tomatoes, chilli, garlic & parsley ($28.00). This seriously lacked flavour. No salt, no chilli, no garlic; it was just bland and disappointing. The spaghetti felt a tad too thick and it was over cooked therefore it almost had the consistency of tinned spaghetti. Shame, I had high hopes for this dish.Desserts~

Affogato House-made vanilla gelato served with an espresso & your choice of digestivo: Cafe Patron XO Tequila, Frangelico or Grappa ($15.00). My friend requested to omit the digestive and we were still charged the full amount. That is one expensive coffee shot!Gelati choice of 3 flavours – vanilla, coffee liquor, chocolate peanut butter ($10.00). They had some strange choices (cherry salted caramel?) but we opted for these flavours, which were very nice. It is probably best to clarify the flavour choices as we thought there was a cherry flavour and a salted caramel flavour, not one flavour with cherry and salted caramel combined.Agostinis’ tiramisu made to order… savoiardi biscuits, freshly brewed coffee, mascarpone & chocolate mousse ($12.00). This definitely made your eyes widen as your hit that base that started to pool with coffee. Being made to order meant that there were some crunchy parts of the tiramisu which I thought was a bit odd. My friend and I ordered one each and if you add the part that I had eaten with the part that she had eaten, we wouldn’t have even finished one portion. It was too strong, too much mascarpone and too OTT.

I found the service really terrible. No one was rude or unpleasant but they needed constantly prompting. Can we have more water? Can we get cheese for the pasta? Can we get more wine? On top of that, we found ourselves needing to ask more than once because no one came back for almost 20 minutes. For a restaurant that wasn’t terribly busy, I felt that we were forgotten about A LOT.

I won’t be rushing back here in a hurry, but I would come back for their pizza and hope that their pasta and service improves.

Venue: Agostini’s

Address: East Hotel, 6/69 Canberra Ave, Griffith ACT 2603

Phone: (02) 6178 0048

Agostini's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Molto Italian 

I was lucky enough to dine as guest at a food blogger ‘Lunch by the lake’ at Molto Italian thanks to a lovely friend Serina (go check out her awesome blog here) and the very generous owners of Molto Italian. They offered us an Italian feast and although our meals were complimentary, all opinions are my own.

If anyone was a sceptic of Molto Italian, it would be me. My friends and I went to Tosolini’s many times and if it wasn’t the mediocre food, it was the very poor service which lead us to leave and eat dessert elsewhere . I was not a fan. So to hear that Carlo Tosolini had a new venture and it was another Italian restaurant, I was torn between my love of Italian food and being burned so badly before. Anyway, fast forward to present day- it is a new restaurant, new venture, new chefs and new beginnings; I was willing to give Molto Italian a chance. First came the ‘stuzzichini’ or finger food and then the food never stopped coming. It was truly an Italian feast.Stuzzichini

Mixed olives marinated in thyme, orange zest, garlic and extra virgin olive oil ($8.00). Delicious olives but the green ones were my favourite. Assortment of bread rosemary or garlic Tuscan flatbread sea salt schiacciatina with Sicilian extra virgin olive oil ($9.00). This was beautiful bread served warm. There was enough flavour on the bread already but I really enjoyed dipping my pieces into the EVOO.Zucchini flower stuffed with buffalo ricotta and served on a pea puree ($6.00). The zucchini flower was cooked perfectly leaving a crisp delicate batter over the flower encased with a well seasoned ricotta filling, all without bring oily.Suppli stuffed with asparagus and tallegio cheese ($16.00). During my first bite, I thought the filling was a bit bland and I wished it came with more sauce but the second bite- BAM! I got hit with a strong taste of cheese. Tallegio is a stronger cheese than I’m used to with a sharp taste and I’m not sure everyone would like it.Beef carpaccio truffle oil, testun barolo cheese and micro herbs($19.00). I love a good beef carpaccio; it is a fine line to balance the flavours of the beef, oil and cheese. There was a lovely flavour from the oil but it almost over powered the beef and the cheese.Swordfish carpaccio with pomegranate and fennel. The first thing I could taste was the delicious oil and then it had a subtle dish aftertaste. I liked that it was paired with the sweetness of pomegranate but I found all the flavours were too subtle for me and I preferred the beef.Pizza ~ are currently only available on weekendsSan daniele tomato, fior di latte, proscuitto crudo, rocket, shaved parmesan, and cherry tomato ($26.00). This was the first pizza that I tried and I fell in love. I really liked the base, the way it was cooked and the mozzarella was perfecto.Capriciossa tomato, fior di latte, ham, artichoke, olive and mushroom ($25.00). I loved the flavour combination but I think I preferred the saltier notes in the San daniele with the proscuitto and parmesan.Regina margherita tomato, buffalo mozzarella, parmesan and basil ($20.00). Just when I thought the San danielle was the best, I then tried the classic marghertia; the most simple pizza and this was my absolute favourite hands down. Every ingredient had to be at its premium because there wasn’t much to hide behind. I would have loved a little more even basil placement though.Pasta

Spaghetti cacio e pepe (made at the table ($28.00). I felt sorry for Carlos as he served all 11 of us at the table really slowly so we could take photos; it looked like a huge wheel that would have been heavy to hold. After eating more pizza than expected (damn that was good), I had to have smaller amounts of pasta so I could taste all three, while also saving room for dessert.Now I love cheese more than the next person but man this was intense. I’m glad that I only had a small portion because the cheese flavour almost became monotonous and I am most surprised that I’m saying that (TimmyC would be shocked). I think I would have loved it if it had pieces of speck or some cured meat to go with it. These wheels of cheese are replaced every 3-7 days.House made ravioli with spinach and buffalo milk ricotta in burnt butter and sage ($28.00). I am usually sold on anything in a burnt butter sauce with sage and I would easily order this next time I’m here.I wish there was a tad more sauce to this pasta but I loved the crispy sage leaves.Squid ink seafood pasta. The chef had been working on new dishes for the upcoming winter menu (to be released soon) and this was one of them. After all the heavy rich cheese dishes, this had a refreshing chilli bite and I really enjoyed the crunchy texture on the top. They import what they think is the best squid ink pasta from Italy but I think the star of the dish was the accompanying seafood.Dolci

Nonna’s tiramisu ($15.00). I can never say no to a tiramisu and it is sad to say I’ve had more disappointments than good ones. This was nice but not the best I’ve had, it tasted more like whipped cream rather than a rich mascarpone mixture.The two ‘gripes’ that I’ve heard from others about Molto Italian were about the prices and about the noise. I know that Canberra’s dining scene can seem more expensive on an international scale as well as interstate, but all along the Kingston foreshore it seems to be next level. I had written my impression of each dish before including the prices from the menu in my blog, but I felt that the prices were fair considering their import the best produce in their opinion to ensure quality authentic ingredients. We were lucky enough to have an early start before a busy lunch period but I didn’t notice a noise problem. This might be at night when the foreshore gets crazy busy.I would not have enjoyed as many dishes if I was coming with friends unless I invited 5+ people. Through this invitation, we were able to taste a large variety of the menu as well as preview some upcoming dishes from the winter menu and I am able to say that I enjoyed almost all the food that we were lucky enough to experience. I am excited to go back and try their upcoming winter menu.

Venue: Molto Italian

Address: Element Building, Eastlake Parade, Kingston Foreshore

Phone: (02) 6140 7039
Molto Italian  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Let’s do lunch! Bicicletta 

It is still March (only just!), which means that it is still Good Food Month in Canberra. I had completely forgotten that Bicicletta was doing a Let’s Do Lunch special, so I was pleasantly surprised when we were given another menu.

A great-priced set lunch with a matched drink from $38.00 per person. Two courses from the uniquely Italian inspired menu with a glass of Yalumba wine or Coopers pale ale beer.Entree~

Arancini roasted tomato and pecorino cheese risotto balls with garlic aioli. These were really crunchy and gooey inside. I really liked the how the cheese was all stringy when you cut them in half.Scottata marinated seared beef tenderloin thinly sliced with mixed Italian herbs served with rucola, parmigiano and olive oil. I found the beef full on little holes which gave it a weird texture, the rucola was limp and the flavours were not very strong. I enjoyed the arancini much more than this entrée.Mains~

Spaghetti al frutti mare fresh pipis, King prawns, scallops and baby squid , sauteed with chilli, garlic, cherry tomato and bisque. My friend’s pasta had more sauce than mine, so I found my pasta to be a bit dry. Even though  I would have preferred more chilli taste, I really enjoyed the seafood and the perfectly al dente pasta.Dessert~ It was only a two course lunch but we couldn’t help but order a dessert to share between us.

Tiramisu traditional cake with coffee infused savoiardi biscuits, mascarpone, eggs, cream and cacao ($12.00). I found the bottom layer of biscuits had soaked up a lot of coffee which made my eyes instantly widen. I stuck to the less intense biscuit layers with the cream and mascarpone and thoroughly enjoyed myself.Coffee and tea are included in the menu but we didn’t have any.

Italiano Vero sneak peek

I spy with my friend’s eye, something beginning with yum!

It is so lovely me that my friends think of me when they see a new eatery and they send me photos, it’s like the foodie version of Gossip Girl (xoxo). Haha!

Spotted: A new Italian eatery in Civic making big calls about being the “ONLY Italian in Canberra”, I hope Italiano Vero lives up to the expectations it is creating. Have you eaten here yet dear reader? The menu seems extensive and everything seems reasonably priced.
Thanks for the photos and heads up Thomas!

Locale

Michelle from HerCanberra Food & Drink and I met up after my big Europe trip and before she left for her big America trip; we were overdue for a massive catch up. She asked where I wanted to eat and out of the blue I suggested we try Locale in Deakin. Being a Tuesday night for only two people, I figured we could get away without booking but that wasn’t the case as the place was packed and the remaining tables were reserved. We could have sat inside at the bar for just over an hour or outside without a time limit (or heating), but knowing that I was a slow eater, it was logical that we chose the outdoor seating and they gave us a blanket to keep warm.

Between being indecisive and wanting to try everything, Michelle suggested we get a starter to share, two pastas that we really liked the sound of, one pizza because everyone was ordering pizza and we wanted to see how good it was (plus we could always take away what we don’t finish) and then share one dessert if we could fit it in. My eyes lit up, it sounds like a lot of food for two people but I finished everything on my half while Michelle took her half of the pizza home.Starters~

Arancini porcini mushroom, taleggio, truffle oil ($18.00). The outside was extremely crunchy while the inside was a soft but not mushy risotto. It is a bit pricey for three arancini balls but it is really delicious.Check out the sexy cheesy interior.Pasta handmade with love~

Pappardelle alla bolognese ribbon egg pasta, slow braised veal and pork bolognese ($28.00). This was a beautiful rich bolognese with perfectly looking pasta. It is exactly everything I am looking for in pasta although I like my meat to ratio a little more even, TimmyC would love this though.Ravioli di granchio crabmeat filled ravioli, leeks, asparagus, enoki mushroom, bisque ($32.00). I get really excited when I read crab meat on a menu but I’m usually met me disappointment as I can usually feel the texture of the crab meat but not really taste it, but this dish was packed with crab/seafood flavour. I was surprised to see the generous serve of ravioli (even when paying $32.00) and I would happily order this again. As much as I love a good bolognese, I think I liked this pasta more because I love these seafood rich flavours.Wood fired pizza~ 

Specials board pork sausage, caramelised onion, gorgonzola, tomatoes, balsamic reduction ($24.00).  I really liked their pizza bases and the toppings on this pizza went perfectly with each other. The meaty sausage was complimented by the sweet caramelised onion and the gorgonzola gave it sharp salty notes. I think next time I’ll order something with cured meats for that extra hit of salt.Dessert~

Tortino al cioccolato Perugia chocolate warm pudding, salted peanut gelato, caramel sauce ($14.00). Chocolate lovers rejoice, we have found the dessert for you! I found the pudding intensely rich but when paired with the gelato it was perfectly balanced. I was unsure why there was a caramel sauce as it didn’t really need much more but maybe it is for the intense dessert die hards.  
We took one small bite at a time but we eventually finished it.
As the night went on, it got even busier inside than before. It easy to talk outside, while inside can get a bit noisy and a tight squeeze to get past tables.
There was outdoor seating with heating but I assumed those people booked unlike us.While we were eating dinner, countless people were getting take away pizzas. I love how their boxed is perforated for easy tearing into plates and therefore means even less to clean up!Despite sitting outside and away from everyone else, we were never forgotten. The service was really friendly and attentive. I would definitely come back again in a heartbeat and any know many people who would love to eat here with me.

Venue: Locale

Address: Shop 5, Deakin Shops, Deakin, ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6162 2888

Websitewww.localepizzeria.com.au/

Opening hours: Everyday, 5pm–late

Provini

I suffer from serious FOMO (fear of missing out), so when illness stopped me from all my pre-planned dinners/lunches/weekends away, I promised myself that I would postpone them all rather than missing out altogether. One of these planned outings was to go to Provini, the newly opened Italian restaurant run by the Cocu group in Civic (where La Scala used to be). I excitedly made my booking and not long after received a sms prompt about my reservation. A few hours after that, I received another sms to confirm my booking with a ‘YES’ reply, apparently I was not the only one over excited about my postponed dinner.

Not your typical front of a restaurant in the middle of the city, it definitely feels like you’re stepping into someone’s house.Pizza~The top pizza is the Provini ham, soppressa, peppers, chilli ($24.00) and bottom is Margherita tomato, basil, fior di latte ($21.00). When none of the entrees or antipasto options really excited us, we all naturally gravitated towards the pizza and shared that between us for starters instead. I really really enjoyed the pizza bases here and their fresh toppings really put it to the next level. I probably preferred the Provini over the margherita because it had more exciting flavours and I found the basil to be rather sparse.Pasta~

Spaghetti carbonara guanciale, pecorino, yolk ($24.00). The pasta looked underwhelming being dry with not many ingredients. My friend didn’t really enjoy it.Tagliatelle al nero di seppia squid ink tagliatelle, prawns, pippies, chilli, tomato ($29.00). My other friend had the same problem as the cabonara, when it arrived it was very aromatic but it felt really dry and underwhelming without a ‘sauce’. It also seemed like a very small serving of pasta for the price.
Fazzoletti al ragu pork, veal, white wine ragu ($26.00). The first thing I noticed was the fresh pasta cooked perfectly; I rather enjoyed the fazzoletti cut of pasta (pasta handkerchiefs). Unfortunately I found the wet sloppy consistency of the ragu reminded me of canned tuna but this was definitely my favourite choice between the pastas.Secondi~ 

600g dry age rib eye with roasted tomato and choice of two sides (designed to share $66.00). We chose wood roasted vegetables with rosemary salt and baked roman gnocchi for our sides to share.We found the rib eye to be okay, a little underseasoned which was easy to taste because there was no jus or sauce to hide behind. The vegetables with a nice choice for a side but I preferred the gnocchi because it was more cheesy and decadent. I personally and selfishly could finish this on my own but I guess it is nice to share the price tag.

Wood roasted vegetables with rosemary salt.
Baked Roman gnocchi.I was super excited about trying Provini because I love Italian food but I found the service to be inconsistent (some were friendly and some seemed arrogant) and the food overall to be disappointing that we didn’t want to stay for dessert; we were actually considering a second dinner somewhere else because we found the serving size a bit small. The pizzas/starters came out pretty fast but there was a long wait before our pastas and mains came out.  If I was to come back again, I would maybe try some antipasto and stick with the pizzas.

Venue: Provini

Address: 50 Bunda Street, Canberra ACT

Phone(02) 6154 9720
Click to add a blog post for Provini on Zomato

Neighbourhood food 

Nothing makes you hope that a restaurant is good like when your friend tells everyone that you’ve recommended a restaurant for dinner that night and then to correct her by saying that you have never been yourself but you’ve heard nice things. That’s exactly what happened when we went to Neighbourhood food in Gungahlin.

I wasn’t quite sure exactly where it was but when we found it, I was surprised to see how casual/cafe style and dim lit it was. I hope the food is better than then decor.

Entree~

Garlic pizza bread ($6.00). A nice pizza base, I just wasn’t a huge fan of the garlic that they used.Garlic mushroom bruschetta garlic and butter sauteed mushrooms served on crusty bread topped with herbs ($12.00). I really expected at least two pieces for the price. It was okay, the garlic tasted like it was from a jar but there were plenty of mushrooms and toppings on the singular toasted slice of bread.Tomato bruschetta diced tomato, fresh basil, bocconcini served on crusty bread ($12.00).

Mains~

Steak and mushroom pappardelle in butter and pepper sauce ($22.00). Although in theory this had my name written all over it, I didn’t think it had enough depth to the dish. I really enjoyed the pasta texture, but I found the steak pieces too tough and I ended up eating more of TimmyC’s risotto.Lamb shank risotto slow cooked lamb shank with peas and ricotta ($28.00). This was on the specials board and I stand by what Jerry Seinfeld said when he said: “I don’t want to hear the specials. If they’re so special, put ’em on the menu.”, but I had food envy as soon as I tasted this. The lamb shank was tender, the risotto was perfect and the ricotta was creamy and despite the fact that I don’t eat peas, I just swallowed them whole in my bites. Damn, should have ordered the special.Seafood risotto Barramundi, calamari and prawns ($22.00). My friend said she really enjoyed this dish despite the fact that her risotto was slightly over cooked.Pizza~ we were surprised about the size of the pizza when they set it down, but they were so good we ended up eating all of it anyway. I really liked their pizza base and generosity of toppings.

Classic supreme pizza pepperoni, capsicum, olives, pineapple, onion, bacon and mozzarella ($22.00).

Neighbourhood pizza ham, chicken prawns, fetta and mozzarella (lge $24.00).Vegetarian pizza capsicum, onion, mushrooms, olives, artichokes, pineapple and mozzarella (sml $13.00).Sides~

Rocket salad ($8.00). My friend’s Mum was doing the responsible thing on the table ordering a side salad.My friends and I really enjoyed it here, it is nice to have good food tucked away in the suburbs. I am definitely keen to come back and try some of their prawn pastas. The service was exceptional, they were very friendly, knowledgeable about their menu and very attentive with drinks.

Venue: Neighbourhood food

Address54 Ernest Cavanagh St Gungahlin, ACT

Phone02 6241 5819

Websitehttp://www.neighbourhoodfood.com.au/

Opening hours:

Brunch
Saturday – Sunday
9:00am – 2:00pm
Dinner
Tuesday – Saturday
Open from 5:30pm

Neighbourhood Food on Urbanspoon

Jamie’s Italian re-run

Nothing annoys me more than wasting a voucher, not a discount voucher but a prepaid voucher card with an expiry date. Luckily for us Jamie’s Italian gift vouchers don’t have an expiry but we were using up a Dendy voucher before it expired so we thought we’d continue on downstairs with our voucher run.

For once we were able to get a seat inside and considering it was 38 degrees outside, it was a happy change of scenery. The menu looked like it had changed since I had last been (I didn’t blog the last three visits), but TimmyC just made sure that they still had his good ol’ favourite tagliatelle pasta and he was set.

Can you spot your favourites in the new menu layout?IMG_7187.JPGCrispy prawns wrapped in angel hair pasta with tomato, basil and chilli sauce ($14.50). I chose this as a last-minute impulse even though I agreed with TimmyC that all we needed was one entree and two main sized pastas because we weren’t that hungry after popcorn consumption and it was so hot outside. I should have stuck with that decision as I felt that this dish was disappointing. Sure the pasta gave the prawns a crunch but the prawns weren’t particular big or sweet. Don’t be put off by the black squid ink looking sauce, it was a really creamy mayo and was the only saving grace of the dish.IMG_7196.JPGBaked mushroom swiss browns with crispy music bread and smoked buffalo mozzarella ($15.50). This is one of TimmyC’s favourite entrees but we both had split opinions that day; I thought it was better than usual and TimmyC didn’t really enjoy it. I really like mild flavours of the mushrooms and mozzarella against the crispy textures of the bread.IMG_7200.JPGTagliatelle bolognese ragu of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti and parmesan with crunchy herby breadcrumbs ($19.50). This is our ‘go to’ dish when we go to Jamie’s Italian, it isn’t because it is the best bolognese we’ve had but it’s one of the better things that we have tried and I really enjoy the crunchy herby breadcrumbs.IMG_7202.JPGI think TimmyC enjoys this more than me, as a personal preference I enjoy my bolognese with more meat.IMG_7203.JPGPolpetta spaghetti beef and pork meatballs, tomatoes, garlic and red wine ($18.00). Why oh why do I stray from the usual, I guess the food blogger inside of me wishes to make a new found discovery of something else that is delicious on the menu but I really didn’t enjoy this. As soon as I put a bite in my mouth, I knew the pasta was too under cooked for me, it was even a tad before al dente. The meatballs were a tad dry and bland but I enjoyed how they gave me a big spoonful of the herby crunchy stuff. I was too hot and bothered to complain and I didn’t finish my plate (which usually never happens).IMG_7205.JPGIt looked so promising before I had a taste.IMG_7207.JPGA dissection of the beef and pork meatball.IMG_7210.JPGI’m surprised that Jamie’s Italian is open during this window period but maybe it is to cash in on the holidays when most things won’t be open. I remember the days where you just eat yourself silly and spend time with friends and family  at home because nothing was open but now boxing day sales start early and even the cinemas are open!IMG_7191.JPGI find it puzzling about where this place goes wrong; the menu looks good, the staff are friendly and attentive, I guess it is mainly the execution of the food. The weird thing is that it isn’t the worst Italian I’ve ever eaten, would I have been this critical if Jamie Oliver’s name wasn’t attached to the restaurant? I guess that’s the problem with trusting another chef with your name branded over a restaurant, it is situations like this that have stopped famous chefs like Adrianno Zumbo from opening a store in Canberra, they need someone who they can trust to consistently create a product of high calibre that they would be happily be associated with.

Mamma mia!

I was told about this the other day. Has anyone been before? I have a class before hand but very tempted to head there afterwards!

Capture

Festa della Republica – Italian National Day Festival

1st June 2014 11am – 4pm

 

ComItEs ACT will be hosting the Italian Republic Day Festival with markets and performances by local groups.
Market stalls, food, dance and music.

Performances by:

  • Dante Music Viva
  • The Canberra Tarantella Dance Group
  • Italian Language school group

 

Stalls include:

  • Sausages, pasta
  • Coffee and Sicilian sweets
  • Wine and beer
  • Books in English and Italian
  • Italian ceramics
  • Ferrari memorabilia

Da Rosario

After eating a massive morning tea with at least four different desserts on my plate balanced out by lots of cheese, I found myself out at lunch an hour later clutching onto my tummy, but I perked up again when I realised I requested to go to Da Rosario for my birthday lunch. I’m a big big fan of Italian food.

We found it easily enough even though it was just a few tables on the walkway just outside of Mezzalira and Charcoal restaurant. There is no actual ‘inside’ for patrons but there is a hole in the wall which has a cake/sandwich display built into it and enough room for a basic assembly kitchen, all the food is made in the Mezzalira’s kitchen and pizza oven.20140525-204214.jpgI love these beautiful doors and the gold signage.20140525-204223.jpgThey menu is a bit hard to read with the paper having a patterned background and the particular font they used but I thought the ‘sacks’ of cutlery and napkins were super cute.20140525-204231.jpg

20140525-204251.jpgToday’s specials.20140525-204302.jpgDidn’t I tell ya it was small?!20140525-204319.jpgWhen you’re sitting down, you’re not really bothered by the hoards of people walking past but it proved a bit harder for the waiters to dash between people while holding plates.20140525-204340.jpgMy friend ordered a glass of white wine. We all found it amusing that the wine was poured into the same sort of glass that our water was served in and further more, how small serve of wine was for $10.00! (We then saw on the top of the menu that a glass was = 100mL).20140525-204608.jpgAntipasti~

Polenta ‘crochette’ with gorgonzola and swiss chard ($4.00 each). The croquette was slightly oily but it did have a crispy outer layer and a delicious soft cheesy filling. I wish it wasn’t $4 a pop for 1.5 bites.
20140525-204616.jpg

20140525-204623.jpg‘Arancini’ risotto ball filled with veal shin, tomato and red wine ragu ($4.50 each)This was one of the biggest arancini balls I have ever seen! It also had a crispy exterior but I’m afraid that the filling didn’t ‘wow’ me all that much. In comparison to the other entrees it was disappointing.20140525-204630.jpg

20140525-204642.jpgEggplant parmigiana house smoked ricotta and basil oil ($12.00)Imagine a tasty layered lasagna with sheets of eggplant. This was mighty tasty and even if it was $12 for this small portion, I would order it again. The ricotta on its own tasted super smoked but really complimented the parmigiana when paired together in a mouthful.20140525-204710.jpgMmmm, check out that cheese and layering.20140525-204719.jpgMains~

Northern rivers veal, marsala with king brown mushrooms, thyme and nicola potato ($19.00). I only tasted a bit of this dish but the potato mash was extremely creamy and soft and the sauce was addictive and salty. My friend tells me that the veal was very tender. I would order this dish.20140525-204730.jpgA close up.20140525-204742.jpgLinguine al neonata (? I think that’s what the menu said) with whitebait, chilli, white wine, house made herb pangrattato ($16.00). The pasta was al dente with a lot of the flavours being simple and fresh. The fish and pangrattato was a bit too salty for my friend but I thought it gave a good flavour to the dish. I didn’t know how the whitebait would turn out but it was delicious and I would order this dish.20140525-204752.jpg

20140525-204800.jpgA close up of the whitebait.20140525-204808.jpgPatate ‘fior di latte’ ,mozzarella, potato, rosemary and gorgonzola pizza ($16.00)As usual, I couldn’t decide on what dish to order so the waiter came to my aid and helped me decide between the lasagne or a pizza. He said as nice as the lasagne is, the potato pizza is particularly good. I’ll go with the pizza then.

The pizza had a perfect thickness to it, having a crispy crust with a sturdy base to the pizza topping. The subtle dollops of gorgonzola throughout the pizza provided the perfect amount of salt and cheese. The potato was cut thinly for it to be cooked through and went very well with the rosemary. Definitely worth trying!20140525-204816.jpg

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20140525-204844.jpgI really love their tiramisu (if it is anything like Mezzalira’s) and I totally would have had two if I didn’t just scoff my body weight in cake just before.

The staff were friendly and helpful. Not only were they attentive to our table water supply, they constantly topped up our glasses. Arriving just after midday, we had our pick of seats but not long after all 8 tables were taken and they were in the process of adding two new tables. A small cute set up with delicious food and simple stand alone flavours. If civic wasn’t so hard to get a park, I would come and eat here more often.

**A small handy note – they don’t take reservations and they are only opened for breakfast and lunch.

 

Venue: Da Rosario

Address59 London Circuit Canberra, ACT 

Phone: (02) 6230 0025 << same number as Mezzalira so don’t get confused when they pick up the phone, although Da Rosario don’t take bookings.

Opening hours: 7:00 am – 3:00pm Monday to Friday

Da Rosario on Urbanspoon

Jamie’s Italian re-run

—– 23rd Dec 2013 —–
Another day, another early bird special without a booking, this time with the more ambitious number of 6 patrons. I was browsing dresses when I get the following text message from a friend: “you have 5 minutes to get here before they give away our table”. I put the dresses on hold and run down stairs to the outside area of Jamie’s Italian. It is a bit of a squeeze but all of us managed to fit around the table.

Drinks~

‘Refresher’ mocktail – fresh lemon, elderflower cordial & cranberry juice, topped with lemonade ($6.50). This had a lot of lemon juice which made it crazy sour which is not what it tasted like when I ordered it during my previous visit. I think that these mocktails are very inconsistent and the bar staff need to taste them before sending them out.20131226-181736.jpg

Entrees~

Italian bread selection homemade rosemary foccacia, Italian grissini, crispy ‘music bread’ & ciabatta from our bakery. All served with Rylstone extra virgin olive oil & aged balsamic. $1 from every bread tin we serve is donated to Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia ($1.50). Since there was 6 of us we just ordered three serves for the table, it wasn’t enough to satisfy our want for also getting entrees, so this was just a starter while we were browsing the menus.

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Baked mushrooms swiss browns with crispy “music bread” and smoked buffalo mozzarella ($14.50). As the waiter places down my entree and I danced about take photos of everyone else’s food, he mentions he loves this dish even though he doesn’t like mushrooms. That’s the thing about Jamie’s Italian, all the waiters and waitresses all have their favourites and are not afraid to tell you.

It was a great medley of mushrooms and herbs, although I’m not quite sure about the thin base. When there is no mushrooms on it, it comes brittle and hard (around the edges of the dish) but when it is the base with mushrooms, it becomes really soggy and hard to eat. The cheese is really subtle and I wish there was more salt to this.20140114-230655.jpg

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Crispy squid fried quid garlicky may and lemon ($12.50). Due to an ordering error from the waitress, only one of these were served so we cancelled the one that was never put through to the kitchen and we were given more bread complimentary (we still had to pay for the previous bread, they just gave us an extra box for free). These had a nice light batter that went really well with the sauce, unfortunately the portion size was really small.

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Crispy tomato and mozzarella arancini stuffed rice balls with pickled red chillies, spicy arrabbiata sauce and parmesan ($10.50).20131226-181657.jpg

Tagliatelle bolognese ragù of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti & parmesan with crunchy, herby breadcrumbs (entree size $13.00, I didn’t take a photo of the main size but it was much bigger than the previous main serve that we ordered). Tim took another risk and re-ordered the same thing that disappointed us so much last time we were here. This time it was much much better! The crumb was crunchy, pasta was perfect and the bolognese sauce itself was fantastic as always. 20131226-181726.jpg

Simple baked lasagne slow-cooked beef & pork with roasted squash, herbs & wine, baked in an oozy white sauce with tomatoes, mozzarella & Parmesan ($21.00). I steered clear of previous menu items hoping to try something new that night. The lasagna didn’t have the same sauce as the bolognese otherwise this would have been spectacular. I didn’t understand the constant addition of rocket to all the pastas; I just tossed it aside. There was nothing special about this dish; it wasn’t particularly cheesy, the red sauce was mediocre and I didn’t feel that there was much white sauce. I got more enjoyment from eating from TimmyC’s plate.

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Italian farm sausage grilled pork sausage flavoured with red wine & spices, served with sweet & sour capsicums, capers, chilli & garlic ($23.00). My friend liked this as much as I ‘liked’ my lasagna. It tasted a bit ‘herby’ but it was missing something, a chutney or sauce perhaps? My friend didn’t even eat half of this, I think he got bored with the meal or he was completely underwhelmed.

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The Jamie’s Italian burger Aussie Black Angus steak with smoked mozzarella, pancetta, sticky balsamic onions, tomato, pickles and chillies ($19.50). My friend really enjoyed her burger but I still think by looking at it, that the bun to meat ratio is all wrong.

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The back of the burger looks less appetizing.

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Spaghetti alla norma a classic Sicilian pasta dish of eggplant, oregano, chilli & basil, all in a rich tomato sauce.

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Sides~

Our famous polenta chips crispy fried with rosemary and parmesan ($8.50). The polenta chips were rather nice, exactly the same to the Sydney store; they were crispy, salty and you wouldn’t think that they were made from polenta.

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The staff were nice and friendly as always, the food came out promptly, the only thing that was disappointing were some of the dishes, there were more ‘misses’ than ‘hits’. I’m not completely sold on this place yet.

Jamie’s Italian – Canberra

—–13th Dec 2013—–

I don’t usually go in a restaurant on a Friday night and not have a reservation, that is just asking for a laugh in the face and I’m not good with rejection, but at Jamie’s Italian Canberra they have a different booking system where they have several tables set aside for ‘walk-ins’ i.e. the people who were weren’t fast enough/organised enough to book ahead.

My friend and I arrive at the ‘early bird special’ time of 5:15pm with only having 2 out of the 3 people there for dinner. They said they couldn’t offer anything to us until we were all there, “that’s fine, we will have a drink at the bar”. As we were watching the millions of wait staff whizz around us, one of them handed us a buzzer, as soon as it goes off our table would be ready. ‘That’s nice’ I thought considering we weren’t one of the hoards of people gathering in the doorway waiting in line. Before we even took two sips of our drink, the buzzer goes off and we are led to a table outside (even with one person still missing).

The trendy set up they have inside the restaurant.20131215-114404.jpgLots of staff working at the bar and around the restaurant.20131215-114454.jpg

20131215-114442.jpg‘Refresher’ mocktailfresh lemon, elderflower cordial & cranberry juice, topped with lemonade ($6.50). A little bit sour but very refreshing, appropriately named. It is packed with a lot of ice so if you don’t drink it quick, the ice melts and it tastes very watery.20131215-114419.jpgIt is hot outside and I’m not talking about ‘a whiny girl who doesn’t like heat’ kinda hot, I’m talking about ‘afternoon sun, we had to eat with our sunglasses on and my head of black hair was burning’ type of hot. The outdoor seats aren’t ideal when the sun hasn’t lowered beneath the surrounding buildings but I was going to take whatever seat was available. After about 45 minutes it was okay.20131215-114535.jpg

20131215-114513.jpgEntrees~

Italian bread selection homemade rosemary foccacia, Italian grissini, crispy ‘music bread’ & ciabatta from our bakery. All served with Rylstone extra virgin olive oil & aged balsamic. $1 from every bread tin we serve is donated to Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia ($1.50). When I last went to the Sydney store, their bread is complimentary but I much prefer this idea where you pay a bit and most of it goes to a good cause. A nice selection of bread with freshly poured olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the table. Easy to order ahead and nibble at while you’re staring at the menu.20131215-114627.jpgCrispy tomato and mozzarella arancini stuffed rice balls with pickled red chillies, spicy arrabbiata sauce and parmesan ($10.50). The arancini balls were crispy and I really enjoyed the arrabiata sauce underneath, although it wasn’t too spicy. This was the better entree of the two.20131215-114549.jpgFried three-cheese gnocchi delicious crunchy gnocchi with a fiery arrbbiata dip ($9.50). The gnocchi was crispy but I felt I couldn’t really taste the cheeses and the saltiness. I found the sauce was just really tomato-y and it tasted better with the sauce from the arancini balls.20131215-114610.jpgMains~

Rainbow trout Aqua Pazza beautiful Goulburn Valley Rainbow Trout cooked whole in Gennaro’s Aqua Pazza with chilli, garlic, gaetta olives and capers finished off with juicy cherry tomatoes and parsley ($28.50). We had ordered this under false pretenses. We asked what the fish of the day was and the waiter said it was a whole snapper blah blah blah, snapper sounds good so that’s what we ordered. When they put it down and I was taking photos of it from the tail end, I said to my friend ‘sweetie, I’m no fisherman but I don’t think that is a snapper’, we lifted up the skin to find pink flesh, no that is definitely not a snapper. It also came with a lot of olives, tomato and capers which my friend was not fond of, it was sitting in a sauce that looked very buttery but it wasn’t salty and buttery. I asked a passing by waitress that we had expected a snapper and we got the trout and she said that the waiter got it wrong, the snapper was yesterday’s fish of the day. We weren’t too overly impressed with the situation or the dish. Trout has a lot of little bones which also made it hard to eat.20131215-114718.jpgMy hand for a size reference, I would like to state again that I do not have man hands so it is not a size illusion.20131215-114705.jpg

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A size comparison between a main meal bolognese and an entree sized prawn linguine. My serve of pasta looked just as big as TimmyC which I was surprised to find. I don’t know if I got a lot more than expected or if he got ripped off.20131215-114644.jpgPrawn linguine juicy pan-fried garlicky Spencer Gulf prawns served with tomatoes, chilli, rocket & fennel (entree size $16.00). I just saw prawns and chose this dish so I wasn’t quite sure what I was eating when I came across this odd shape in my pasta, was it pasta that hadn’t been cut properly? A parmesan piece that had melted onto multiple strands of pasta? I had to look up on my photos what it said on the menu – fennel, of course! I don’t think the fennel added anything to the dish other than confusion, the prawns were cut up little pieces rather than whole and the sauce just tasted tomato-y plain and boring without any hint of chilli. It was much better in Sydney, I don’t know why it was at least similar in Canberra being the same menu item and all.20131215-114852.jpgWe weren’t quite sure what this was until we looked it up.20131215-115013.jpgTagliatelle bolognese ragù of beef, pork, herbs, Chianti & parmesan with crunchy, herby breadcrumbs (main meal size $19.50). Every time we go to a Jamie’s Italian, TimmyC just looks for a bolognese on the menu and then he has decided. Canberra uses tagliatelle while the Sydney store had spaghetti, but he didn’t mind, he likes them both. The sauce itself was a beautiful rich base and I could really taste a wine or something in the after taste, the breadcrumbs didn’t really have much of a crunch for me as it did in Sydney. The disappointing part was the pasta itself. It is great that they make all the pasta on site but this was cooked under al dente, I prefer mine soft and TimmyC prefers al dente but even he said that this was too hard for him. It was made worse by the fact that a lot of the pasta clumped together in 3 to 4 strands forming an even harder to eat dish, I ended up just pushing the pasta aside and eating the sauce when TimmyC was done.20131215-114934.jpgMy friend and I only had enough stomach real estate for one dessert between us, so we had to make it count. We crossed off all the desserts that you could get in other restaurants and narrowed it down to two.

Dessert~

Raspberry Frangipane fresh raspberries & almond filling with creme fraiche ice cream & berry drizzle ($8.50). When they put the dessert down, it wasn’t the most appetizing looking but this dessert was fantastic. The cake was moist, the sauce was surprisingly strong in flavour and it went really well together. The creme fraiche ice cream was a bit interesting, the slight sourness balanced out the sweetness of the cake and sauce. I would really recommend this dessert.20131215-115118.jpg

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20131215-115127.jpgAs I asked for the bill, I also asked if I could browse the kids menu, after all I didn’t know when or if I was going to ever dine with children here and I wanted to peer through the cutesy old school ViewMaster. The children get a good menu selection, even I would have chosen some myself, I love the awesome idea of layering the salads in jars to make it more appealing for kids to eat.

Kid’s menu
Chicken lollipops
Mini sliders
Spag Bol
Mac n cauli cheese
Happy fish fingers 20131215-115217.jpg

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The antipasto kitchen prep area.20131215-115304.jpg

The bread box preparation area.20131215-115320.jpg The bill comes out in a bread box and the outer card showing a range of Jamie’s Italian souvenirs that you can purchase for home.20131215-115248.jpgI don’t usually do a George Costanza toilet review but I found it very amusing that they had their own  personalised set of toilets when all the neighbouring restaurants have their bathroom with the public mall. You walk up stairs and the ceiling is so low, you feel like Alice in Wonderland. ‘Nice buns’ hehehehe.20131215-115353.jpg

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This place has more of a casual vibe than the Sydney store, see my Sydney experience here. When you sit down you are not rushed at all, there is no time limit or next table booking in 45 minutes, so we took our merry time as tables around us came and went. The staff were friendly, not always attentive as they rush around but always happy to stop if you ask them for something.

People are always surprised about the prices to the restaurant because of Jamie’s name associated with it but I also feel that people just want to come here because of the name association and because it is new rather than because of the food.

The restaurant as a whole was an okay pleasant experience although sitting outside on those seats in a prolonged period of time really hurts your bum. I was rather disappointed with the food other than the dessert, we might have had a bad run so I am willing to come back again.

Venue: Jamie’s Italian

Address:  125 Bunda Street, Civic, ACT (Canberra Centre, under the Dendy Cinema)

Phone: (02) 6268 0400

Opening times: 11:30am – 11:00pm daily

Websitehttp://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/australia/canberra

Booking process: book online, ring the restaurant if there is less than 9 people and if you can’t get a booking, they have tables set aside for walk ins although you have less of a wait time if you go super early like we did or later after 8:30pm.

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