The Sawmill

As you can tell from the half eaten slices of pizza, I wasn’t planning on blogging about my casual family lunch at The Sawmill but the pizzas were so good, I had to write about it.

Wild rice salad wild rice, kale, cranberries, fetta ($20.00) with added grilled chicken ($4.00). I have only had kale chips, so I wasn’t used to the texture of uncrunchy kale but the flavours with wild rice, cranberries and fetta are a great idea.Margherita buffalo mozzarella, basil, tomato base ($20.00). It is a simple pizza topping but our favourite pizza choice and Sawmill definitely delivered; it was the favourite pizza of the table! I would definitely order this again.Peccati di gola salami, ham, pancetta, Italian sausage, mozzarella, tomato base ($24.00). It would seem very meat heavy for some, but I really enjoyed this.Sfiziosa smoked ham, onion, mushroom, artichokes, Italian sausage, bianco base ($24.00). This wouldn’t have been my first choice but it was nice to have a mix of vegetables and meat on at least one of the pizzas.I found the staff really friendly and accommodating when we rocked up without a booking. The pizzas are so good because the ingredients are fresh, the bases are fantastic and you can’t beat a wood fired oven. I’m getting a craving as I write this post.

Venue: The Sawmill

Address: 7 Duneba Avenue, West Pymble, NSW

Phone: (02) 9498 6565

The Sawmill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

European Gourmet Food Safari in Sydney

Come with me on a gourmet journey through Sydney.

My friends know me so well and for my Christmas gift they purchased me a voucher to have a Gourmet Safari. I chose the European Gourmet Food Safari in Sydney to experience a lot of Europe crammed into one exciting and delicious day.

Stop#:1

Starting the day right with a coffee and their famous ricotta cake that did not disappoint.

Venue: Pasticceria Papa

Address: Shop LG 1–4, 75–79 Hall Street, Bondi Beach

The one thing to buy/try: Ricotta cake or get some freshly shaved ham

Pasticceria Papa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato It is hard to concentrate on anything when there are so many sweets.


Stop#:2

We left with bags in hand and samples in our mouths. If you don’t know what to get, the kind and friendly staff will help you out.

Venue: Russkis Deli

Address: 131 Bondi Rd, Bondi NSW 2026

The one thing to buy/try: piroshki, pashka or some delicious European sausages.


Stop#:3

I was really surprised with the variety in this shop that didn’t just include the traditional bakery wares. The chocolate Kugelhopf is bound to impress but you need a lot of people to share it with or a pair of stretchy pants.

Venue: Wellington Cake Shop

Address: 157 Bondi Rd, Bondi NSW 2026

The one thing to buy/try: cream cheese puffs!I could have 10 of these cream cheese puffs right now!


Stop#:4

This is truly cheese heaven. I left with $90 worth of cheese in my hand and everyone I shared it with was also really impressed. They made me eat AND like Stilton cheese which I am still amazed about and they also taught me a lot about ‘ripe’ cheeses and stabilisers.

Venue: Formaggi Ocello

Address: Shop 16/425 Bourke St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

The one thing to buy/try: Guccio Italian bloomy rind cheese (seriously, it is like liquid gold), Stilton with truffle honey or raspberry and herb jelly.  You probably don’t need to know this but they deliver Australia wide.

Formaggi Ocello Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato So many samples, so many amazing flavours.


Stop#:5

If I lived in Sydney I would buy my house in Chester Hill. I love how they have every smoked and cured meat product imaginable and all at decent prices.

Venue: Ivan’s Butchery

Address: 141 Waldron Rd, Chester Hill NSW 2162

The one thing to buy/try: Cevapi, pork crackling, anything really! My mouth is salivating as I type this.Ivan was really generous and let us try so much and it was all definitely worth trying.


Stop#:6

Just when we didn’t think we could fit any more food in, we stopped and had a long late lunch. We ate and enjoyed everything! The hospitality was really warm, the menu was authentic and the food was really good.

Venue: Na Zdrowie

Address: 161 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe NSW 2037

The one thing to buy/try: Everything! Seriously, I loved everything that we ate at this restaurant even though I was a bit sceptical of the description of seasoned pork lard.Na Zdrowie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato From pierogi to bigos to placki, you have to order it all!

We all had such a fun time on the tour, it is definitely worth going on. I learnt so much, ate so much and bought much much more, I hope to go on a different tour soon.

 

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.

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 – dessert

My friend couldn’t get into Jamie’s Italian for dinner while she was in town so I didn’t think she should have to miss out all together, so after Mr. Wei’s we walked over without a reservation to enjoy some dessert. I had only had one dessert here previously and it was one of the best things of the meal so I wasn’t hesitant to try the rest of the dessert menu.

Jamie’s Italian Epic Brownie warm fudgy brownie with amaretto ice cream & caramelised amaretti popcorn ($10.00). The amaretto might have been subtle but for someone who doesn’t like the flavour, it was too much. This dessert was very OTT, rich and very filling.

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Trifle fresh strawberries with strawberry jelly, custard & glazed Italian meringue ($10.00). It was hard to scoop through all the layers without making a mess around the tall glass. This is a classic old school dessert but there wasn’t anything special about it except for its glazed Italian meringue hat.

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Panna cotta lovely wobbly panna cotta served with a compote of seasonal fruits ($8.50). Probably the nicest dessert of the night, it was very wobbly, not overly sweet with simple flavours.20140223-224459.jpg

Not all these desserts are for me but that means that there is a nice variety on the menu. So far the raspberry frangipane with fresh raspberries & almond filling with creme fraiche ice cream & berry drizzle is my favourite dessert on the menu, followed closely by the panna cotta.

Melbourne long weekend – il Bacaro

We were trying to fit in as much as we could before we flew back to Canberra later that day and we were going to finish the trip off with great Italian food based on a recommendation at Il Bacaro cucine e bar.

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Complimentary warm bread with gorgeous olive oil.

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Pappardelle con ragu d’agnello, piselli, tartufo e pecorino hand cut pappardelle with lamb ragu, truffle paste, peas and pecorino (sml $29.00). The lamb itself was tender and so flavoursome, that the pasta being fresh and a perfectly cooked was just a bonus.

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Ravioli di fontina con castagna e uva moscato fontina ravioli with roasted chestnut, muscatel and chestnut puree (lge $35.00). Amazing delicate parcels filled with subtle cheese presented beautifully on the plate. This was truly delicious!

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Gnocchi con ragu di lepre, cioccolata e burrata gnocchi with hare ragu, chocolate, and burrata (sml $29.00).

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Spaghettini con cicale di mare, aglio, “olio visadi” e rucola spaghettini with Moreton Bay Bugs “olio visadi”, garlic, chilli and rocket (lge $39.00). A nice hint of spice with perfectly cooked bay bugs and pasta. I love the fact that they wilted rocket throughout the dish and I didn’t have to add any cracked pepper.

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We didn’t have time for dessert as we wanted to squeeze in a spot of shopping before flying out but their dessert options did look tempting. The dining room quickly filled up with suits having lunch, which made me and my comfy airport outfit feel very under dressed.

The portion sizes are very small but that doesn’t take away from the amazing flavours from the pasta. This is one of the best Italian restaurants I have eaten at. I would come here again and maybe ask for more bread if I wasn’t full enough (or maybe an expensive dessert or two?).

I booked on Saturday night for Monday lunch with no problems (they are closed on Sundays) but if you were going for a busier time maybe book ahead.

Venue: il Bacaro Cucina e Bar

Address: 170 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Phone: (03) 9654 6778

Websitehttp://www.ilbacaro.com.au/

Il Bacaro Cucina e Bar on Urbanspoon

Melbourne long weekend – Svago Ristorante

I’ll admit it now, we were a bit disorganised when it came to planning our meals for the weekend, I had only really sussed out brunch options and afternoon cake areas. We probably should have planned our dinners more wisely. After Mr. Hive was completely booked out (we almost got a reservation for 7 people at 9:30pm but even then I would have been starving by that time), we started searching for alternatives. Dumpling restaurants, Spanish tapas, Mexican and even Mrs. Parmas couldn’t fit in 7 people or not without being seated ridiculously late. After my fifth call (my other friends were calling around too), I started to loose hope, even if a restaurant was able to seat 7 at a decent hour without being booked out on a Saturday night, what’s that say about the restaurant that we were left with?

I searched for restaurants on Lygon street, I had never really been impressed with that area before but these were desperate times. I had seen on Urbanspoon that Svago Ristorante rated rather quite highly with recent raving reviews from patrons. I dialled the number and asked if they had an opening for 7 people around 7:30pm with a hopeful tone. They said that was not a problem and looked forward to seeing us. I breathed a sigh of relief, finally we got in somewhere! Hmmm but that only left us girls 45 minutes to all get ready and be there… Better start getting changed! 

We were taking someone down Lygon street for the first time, I told them to count how many people ask them to come into their restaurant to eat while we walked one and a half blocks. After being pestered by many Italian men all rugged up braving the outside weather, we finally find Svago Ristorante in a quaint quiet, romantically lit restaurant with no spruiker out the front to wave us in.

I love their Robert Welch cutlery set!

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Complimentary bread and olives – delicious warm bread served with fabulous olive oil and balsamic and a great selection of warm olives.

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Mains~

Pear gnocchi homemade potato gnocchi with Taleggio cheese, pear and roasted walnuts ($23.00). The softest parcels of gnocchi with a fabulous cheese sauce balanced by the walnuts and sweetness of pear. The only complaint would been that they could have used a few more walnuts in the dish. One of the best gnocchi I’ve ever eaten!

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Spaghetti del mar homemade spaghetti with fresh seafood in a salsa verde sauce ($25.00). Perfectly cooked pasta with a good mix of seafood, although one of my mussels did taste like it just came out from the sea. I think this dish could have done with some chilli though. I asked for some parmesan cheese and they gave me a delicious freshly ‘microplane’d cheese, no powdered stuff here.

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Loin of lamb lamb backstrap served with braised sprouted legumes, pea puree and juniper berries jus ($31.00) served medium rare. My friend absolutely loved her lamb.

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Aged fillet steak of beef char-grilled eye fillet, served with horseradish potato puree, roasted shallots and red wine jus ($34.00). The boys promptly finished their steaks which were very tender and well cooked.

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Desserts~

We weren’t going to stay for dessert. Half of us wanted to eat somewhere else to get a bit of variety and then the other half wanted to stay because the experience so far had been so wonderful. Two of us were just going to share a tiramisu but when we ordered, everyone else happen to sneak in an order as well.

Individually baked banana cake caramel sauce and ice cream ($12.00). Made to order, these cakes were steaming hot and perfectly accompanied by ice cream and caramel sauce.

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Dutch chocolate mousse with liquid chocolate Galliano centre ($14.00). A very rich mousse with a smooth shot of Galliano to warm the heart and stomach as you took a bite.

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Tiramisu our way your own way… DIY ($13.00). We were really curious about what the description meant, the waiter kindly offered to show us how to assemble the dessert- stack the lady fingers, pour the espresso all over, smother with mascarpone cheese and top with a bit of Frangelico, rinse and repeat.

We probably didn’t leave the sponge fingers in enough espresso as some were still hard as we dug our spoon through. The strong espresso hits the palette soften by the taste of mascarpone then finished with a delicate after taste of frangelico. This dessert is more for novelty but I think a good consistent dessert needs to be left to the kitchen.

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I have eaten in many restaurants down Lygon street and I never understood what the fuss was about, for me it was always mediocre food, powdered parmesan cheese and spruikers. Svago is the best place I have eaten at here with top notch pastas and secondi options. 

We were thrilled with the service and the food. I’m still astounded that this little gem on such a busy street wasn’t filled with more patrons but that was fine by us as we got to chat and laugh and not compete with other table noise.

Venue: Svago Ristorante

Address: 118 Lygon St, Carlton, VIC 3053

Phone: (03) 9663 3536

Websitehttp://www.svagoristorante.com.au/

Opening Hours: 

Lunch : Mon – Fri 12:00pm ~ 3:00pm

Dinner : Mon – Sun 5:00pm ~ 11:00pm

Bowral get away- Onesta Cucina

——-24/11/2012——-

I have been wanting to try Onesta Cucina every time I come to Bowral but this time we finally got it (and it was open!). We were having a little celebration so I was hoping that the food was delicious and memorable.

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Complimentary bread- very delicious olive oil.

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Vegan pastawith garlic, chilli and olive oil. Not overly oily and my friend enjoyed her meal.

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House made potato gnocchi with braised duck ragu ($29.00). Such wonderful light parcels of gnocchi (oh what a difference a good gnocchi makes!). The meat was really tender but I couldn’t tell straight away that it was duck.

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Crumbed pork loin with proscuitto, asiago and peperonata ($33.00). We had forgotten that the pork was stuffed so it was a pleasant surprise. Thick pork usually dry but this was really moist and flavoursome.

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Sides~

Rosemary and garlic potatoes with sea salt ($9.50). Delicious potato morsels, it seems like an easy concept but they were so addictive.

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We were so impressed with our meals we thought that their desserts would just be a good.

Dessert~

Selection of ice-creams blood orange and raspberry sorbet ($13.50). I found a bit of plastic from a container in my sorbet, but even if I didn’t I wasn’t overly impressed by the flavours.

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Individual Banoffee pie with salted caramel, banana and vanilla bean cream ($13.50). After this afternoon’s dessert at Centennial Vineyards this was definitely average by comparison. I found it too overwhelmingly sweet and I couldn’t finish it.

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I really loved their pasta and mains and wished that I had tried their entrees, next time if I do get a dessert it won’t be a repeat of the ones above. The staff were attentive and meals came out promptly, it was a lovely place for dinner.

Venue: Onesta Cucina

Address: 5 Boolwey St, Bowral, NSW

Phone: (02) 4861 6620

Onesta Cucina on Urbanspoon