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Terra Mia

Terra Mia

Terra Mia (28 Buckingham Street)

We smelt this place before we could see it, and it was pretty hard to go past once we had got that whiff. We opened the door for a peek, and were greeted by a series of ‘Ciaos!’ and a wonderful cabinet display of sweet and savoury pastries and cakes. There is a range of items on the menu; for a lighter, more inexpesnive option I would recommend the paninis (of which there were numerous flavours, or you could design your own) or if you don’t mind the splurge, the pizzas are fantastic! We opted to mix it up and share a pulled pork and mozarella pastry with a pizza. The baze of the pizza was perfect – crunch and doughy and chewy but not too heavy. We also ordered coffees, and as per usual the All Press beans delivered. At the back of the restaurant there is a wee shop with a few different pastas and sauces available for purchase. Apparently Terra Mia hosts a few different events, for example a table at the Long Lunch as well as a regular gnocchi night are both items on their agenda!

La Bella Italia

La Bella Italia

La Bella Italia (10 Nevis Street, Petone)

Yum, yum, yum, this place has the goods! People had told me that it was a good place to visit out in Petone, but I never really paid any attention until we spontaneously decided to go. This place is seriously awesome! It was like a big Italian warehouse, with so much happening and so much to look at, all at once! The walls are thoroughly decorated with all things Italian, and there is different tills lining the wall; there is the pizza man, the coffee man, the meats and cheeses man, the desserts… the list goes on. AND, on the other side there are a few shelves of Italian goods, if you want to transport yourself to an Italian supermarket.

The menu is authentic (there are plenty of Italian words used throughout!) and not too badly priced. The staff are lovely, charismatic and passionate about the food (like all good Italians). Both the pizza and the pasta dishes are of decent portion sizes; I had wanted dessert so badly but just absolutely could not fit it in.

This place is DEFINITELY worth your time. Even better, it’s not just a restaurant AND supermarket AND mini Italian museum, they also offer cooking classes and plenty of events. WOW.

Bastardo

Bastardo

Bastardo (82 Tory Street)

Replacing what used to be Pan De Muerto, Bastardo is brought to us by the same people behind Cicio Cacio and is just as delicious. The place aims for an Italian-American theme, and manages to pull it off beautifully. All of the wait staff are foreign, which only adds to the ambience.

The menu is very Italian, albeit no pizza. A complimentary basket with a variety of breads, olive oil and balsamic comes out not long after you order. The bread is so scrumptious that I had to make a mental note to stop eating it, because I wanted to save myself for my actual dinner! Between the four of us we ordered a range of pasta and carne dishes (including the chicken parmigiana and the rolled pork belly).

The drinks menu is interesting: in addition to a generic range of Italian aperitifs, soft drinks and beers, there is Italian wine which can only be ordered by the bottle. If you want to order wine by the glass, you have to order the ‘house’ wine, which is whatever bottle of wine is opened each night to keep the restaurant’s turnover rolling, as well as making it exciting for the customers! You never know what you’re going to get, but given that it’s Italian, it’s guaranteed to be good!

The food was yum; I wish that I had ordered the pasta as my own dish. I don’t even like blue cheese, and that pasta dish was still sensational. The pork belly was probably the highlight of the mains though, everything was done just right. The chicken parmigiana was tasty, but probably the weakest on the table (it was definitely quality, but a pub can also do a quality parmy – there was no wow factor about it).

For dessert, excitement levels hit sky high. We had seen the trolley circling all night long, and were ecstatic when it finally our turn to preview the goods. There were about five or six desserts on offer, bite size goodies (the perfect size really) which all only cost a mere $5 each. Ranging from tiramisu, lemon meringue pie, chocolate truffles and caramel mousse, it was hard to say no to any of them! It was such a neat way of doing it, we all agreed unanimously that despite the desserts being so cheap it was certainly a money-maker for the restaurant – those who would normally decline would be so much more tempted by a measly $5 dessert, and those gluttons (like us) end up ordering 2 or 3 – and spending what you would on a dessert elsewhere anyway.

The place was great, I have a soft spot for Cicio Cacio and think that it still trumps Bastardo, however Italian food is always a winner in my heart.

Fratelli

Fratelli

Fratelli (15 Blair Street)

This place caught my attention during Wellington On a Plate 2016. It received some absolutely glowing reviews, and I was baffled because I live just down the road and could have sworn that I had never noticed this place. I made it my mission to go, and together with a group of us we headed along to Fratelli one night for the $4o feast. This entails a set menu where you get to pick an option for entree, main and dessert. The feast only runs on a Monday and Tuesday night, and it’s absolutely essential that you book. We went on a Tuesday night, and were astonished at how full the place was, even once it got as late as 9pm (sometimes I think I forget that I now live in a big city, where things stay open past dark!).

For an entree we ordered a mixture of garlic and herb bread, margarita pizza and olives. From the get-go we knew we were in for an absolute treat. The base to the pizza and the bread was so thin, light and fluffy that it made me extremely excited for what was to come. As I no longer eat beef, I was especially over-joyed to see that the pappardelle dish was made with pork shoulder (rather than the traditional beef ragu). In with a grin, the portion of pork shoulder was absolutely perfect – leaving me full, but still with room for dessert. We couldn’t say no to the tiramisu, but we also ordered a raspberry vinaigrette sorbet to accompany it, and both were spectacular. The tiramisu was right up there with one of the best I have ever had – I think the reason being that it was more focused on the chocolate, rather than the cream.

Overall it was a fantastic night. I think when I go back, I would probably opt to do the feast again because it felt like such good value – but there are also so many other delicious items on the menu. Go Fratelli!

La Pancetta

La Pancetta

La Pancetta (123 Main Street, Greytown)

We had been recommended to visit this spot by a number of our friends, so we were both pretty excited. We had taken a look at the menu beforehand, and had agreed there wasn’t much choice; especially with our recent decision to omit beef from our diets. Not that limited choice is necessarily a problem; you really only need to like one thing on a menu! When we arrived we were a little disappointed to see that the menu was even smaller than what we had seen on the internet. We both ended up ordering the same dish – the porchetta (see the above photo) which was a delicious crispy pork belly on a bed of fennel coleslaw with plum sauce. It was an extremely tasty dish.

I would definitely recommend sitting  in the main restaurant as opposed to the private room, unless there is a big enough group of you where you would create your own ambiance – as otherwise I think it would feel a little flat. There was lots of drinks to choose from and the staff were all very attentive. On the whole we found the menu to be a little overpriced – the food was great, but I think we expected something a little more from the prices we paid. It was a beautiful night out though; it was just quite a pricey one.

Pacinos

Pacinos

Pacinos Italian Family Restaurant (300 Epsom Road, Flemington)

The main reason we visted Pacinos was because it was in Flemington, close to the race course, which was convenient for us because that was where Cirque De Soleil was on – and we were going to it! The circus started relatively early, so we wanted to find somewhere nearby so that we could enjoy an early dinner with the comfort of knowing that the circus was just down the road. A bit of online searching found us this place, and with outstanding reviews we booked ourselves in for a 6pm dinner. It didn’t take us long to see why they had such good reviews; it excelled in almost every regard. The place was massive and crammed, which gave rise to a buzzing atmosphere. The menu had heaps of options; and rather than being traditional Italian meals, there was a mixture of modern Italian combined with Australian food – which I think served to make the restaurant extremely family friendly. The staff were so incredibly attentive that it was almost scary, our food came super quickly (so we didn’t need to worry about being late for the circus) and everything was reasonably priced. Although it ticked all of the ‘good restaurant’ boxes, I would say that there was nothing particularly special about it to make it worth the trip to visit the restaurant especially – however if you are out that way I would definitely recommend.

Max on Hardware

Max on Hardware

Max on Hardware (54 – 58 Hardware Lane)

We had been wandering the streets for way too long; a group of six looking for dinner in Melbourne can be quite a difficult task! Most places don’t seem to accept bookings, but six people usually means a decent wait at most places too. And then when you mix in different people’s preferences, budgets etc – it can get tricky, quickly! We were starting to get very hungry by the time we stumbled on Hardware Lane and we could tell immediately that we had hit the jackpot. This ridiculously extensive restaurant Max, had a number of ‘conversationalists’ out on the street, trying to entice people into their restaurant, which literally ran half the length of Hardware Lane. It didn’t take much convincing for us – we were like bees to honey, especially when someone mentioned ‘Italian’!

The menu was massive, it took us quite a while to comb through all the different options (especially in our hungry states, everything sounded delicious). While the staff were super charismatic, they also seemed more interested in turning the tables over then just letting us sit and soak up the atmosphere – I definitely felt hurried as I made my order for drinks and then food. My cousin and I decided to share a halloumi salad as well as a pizza and both were delicious. My aunty ordered the chicken parmigiana, and I can see now why Australia has the claims to the best parmies – it was so ridiculously enormous.

The atmosphere was great, the food good and the prices reasonable. It is a safe option for a family with small kids or for a larger group, as you are sure to find something that will please everyone.

 

Portofino

Portofino

Portofino (26 Victoria Road, Devonport)

The restaurant is a million times better than its website, I promise! Up a cute little alley way and then up some stairs, Portofino is on the second storey of a building that overlooks the main street of Devonport. Serving upper-class Italian food, the menu is extensive – and while not 100% authentic (the Milanese risotto was nothing like the risotto I experienced whilst living in Milan) there are some gems on there (rock melon with prosciutto for instance). We were after an early dinner so that we could catch a movie afterwards and were a bit nervous that we hadn’t made a booking. Thankfully we were early though, because the place was getting pretty full by the time we left!

The food was very yummy. We ordered both a tomato based chorizo pasta and a creamy chicken and bacon one, and they were both delicious. Good portion sizes too – even a little big if you were planning on ordering dessert immediately afterwards. It was reasonably priced – about $70 for two main meals and a glass of wine each. I had a really nice evening, and would recommend it to others. The staff were extremely attentive; there was one lady who was there purely to fill up our water glasses, and she didn’t miss a beat!

Amano

Amano

Amano (66-68 Tyler Street)

I had been recommended Amano by a friend at work who had dined there with clients, and I was not to be disappointed. I was instantly impressed by the large open space, openly divided into a number of different areas (it had a similar feel to Prefab in Wellington) which I think means that each time you sat elsewhere it would create a different kind of dining experience. There is an excessive amount of staff wandering around, ready to help and the décor is modern, wooden and floral. They have a really cool system: they take bookings for half of the restaurant only, and the other half of the restaurant functions on a first come, first served basis. Given that we visited on a Sunday morning we thought we would be in for a bit of a wait, but fortunately for the two of us we walked straight into an available table.

The menu is Italian based, with lots of pasta, seafood and meat. All of the food served is of a very high quality. Between us we sampled some of the pasta, as well as one of the chicken dishes. The portion sizes are adequate, but I would recommend that you order a side or two. The meat component of the plate was indeed very generous, but I think that without any sides the meals would feel quite small. There are lots of interesting items, for example I had a nectarine, macadamia and honey smoothie. It’s quite an expensive menu, but if you after quality food it is sure to meet any expectation.

Pork Bolognese Pappardelle

Pork Bolognese Pappardelle

Continually on the hunt for delicious meat recipes which omit the beef, I was so happy to stumble across this delicious pork bolognese recipe. I love home cooked food so much, and to make something so rich and tasty with such ease is what everyone should be looking for! Pappardelle too, is one of my favourite pastas – I love the thick wide pieces of pasta so this recipe really is a match made in heaven for me.

Collect

  • 500 g pork mince
  • 1/4 c red wine
  • 2 T mixed garlic
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • Pappardelle
  •  1 capsicum, diced
  • 1 T basil
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1/4 c cream

Create

  1. Cook the mince until browned, set aside.
  2. Add wine, garlic, onion to medium heat and cook until translucent.
  3. Add pork to mix, as well as the tomatoes and capsicum.
  4. Stir in the basil and thyme.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Add cream and finish for 5 minutes.
  7. Toss sauce through cooked pappardelle and top with basil.