A warm rustic bar area, toned with wood and brick and copper. Charming, tasteful decorations, cookbooks, jars of foodstuffs serve as delightful accessories to the sumptuous setting.
A basket of beautiful bread, from lightly chewy slices of Tuscan loaf, to Ligurian foccacia, dotted with olives, laced with rosemary or filled with prosciutto. The olive oil for dipping is marvellous, crisp, bright, fruitty, yet winsomely balanced and given to a mild savoury finish.
A special of coppertop (might have the type wrong, but it was copper something) mushrooms, succulent, meaty, contrasting with sharp, bitter arugula, nutty parmeggiano reggiano.
Eggplant terrine is a layered affair of eggplant, fior di latte and a summery tomato sauce.
Potato gnocchi is delightfully tender, and takes on wild mushrooms well, even if the truffle oil is less than exuberant.
Fried sage enhances the sweetness of a butternut squash agnolotti, a delicate pasta with its requisite hints of autumnal spice carries by the buttery sauce.
A barramundi fish roasted whole is moist, firm, modestly meaty and given to a assertive oceany flavour, slightly shrimpy, that is cut by the lemon juice, the sharp dressing on the accompanying baby green salad and a generous aromatic bulb of roasted garlic, sweet, low and heavy. Little bites of dried apricot brighten the dish considerably. Minor misfortune -- the best part, the head, is missing; the kitchen is gently forgiven.
A supple confit leg of duck is given to a ruddy glow. The breast presents a livery angle, less slippery, more meaty, but still pleasantly juicy. An apricot glaze brings out brillant flavours in the duck, along with greens and fingerling potatoes. The glass of valpolicella is lovely here, providing its own bounty of plums and pluots, nuanced bitter almond, all woven into a ripe but suave finish.
The pizza is remarkable, and places like Regina's could take notes. Mozzarella d buffala is not chopped. It is melted in lumps on the pizza, providing a wholesome rich embrace to the palate, exactly like serious pizzerias in Naples. A whaft of basil, good tomato sauce, and a crisp thin crisp of perfect proportions. Could be evenly browned a bit more on the crust, and perhaps more olive oil on the slice, but otherwise outstanding.
The chocolate souffle cake topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (order 35mins ahead) was excellent, intense, with light liquid centre shifting into a cakey cooked exterior.
Apple cobbler was fine but ordinary, and a chocolate genoise cake reminded us of a tiramisu of exemplery breeding.
Simple, delicious cooking. A notch up from Il Capriccio. An exceedingly comfortable and pleasant meal of somewhat moderate cost when quality is taken into account (~$50ish person not including wine), and one that I hope to repeat in the near future.
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