There is always something comforting about Italian food.
Maybe it's the onslaught of pasta, carbs and cheese? But I'm never not satisfied when finishing an Italian feed.
Tucked away in the back corner of Italian and Sons in Braddon, my dinner guest and I sat down for a top notch feed at one of Canberra's best institutions.
For dinner bookings there is an option of an a-la-carte menu or a tasting menu for $105 per person.
We decided to go for the pick-as-you-go alternative.
We begin at the chicetti section of the menu. For the chicetti, which is a fancy Italian word for nibbles, we decided to settle with the zucchini fritti and a plate of the house made focaccia.
The focaccia was warm and paired beautifully with a dash of oil and sea salt. Hints of rosemary also filled the bread in every bite.
Fritti pretty much translates to fries. Zucchini is personally my ride-or-die vegetable. I find it incredibly versatile and is such a great vessel for harbouring taste.
In this case, I did feel the level of oil in the deep fryer overpowered the zucchini. The dish was tasty, however the starchiness of potato is reason the spud always reigns supreme for frying.
The fritti came in at $10, while the foccacia was $9.
Wine is also an important part of an Italian grand tour. We started off with a glass of riesling before moving onto a darker red for the main.
For the antipasti, I could not go past the beef carpaccio ($24).
I am lover of any type of raw meat - sashimi, oysters, beef tartare, you name it, I'll eat it.
Beautifully presented, this fillet of beef carpaccio served with fried baby capers and testun al' barolo cheese just melted in my mouth.
It was succulent and juicy, and my guest and I were left fighting over the last piece.
Our second entree was the fried sourdough zeppole, olasagasti anchovy, cime di fapa and chilli ($24).
This was probably my least favourite dish of the night. I found it a tad too salty and the fried bread was a bit too much after the fried zucchini fries that had been devoured earlier.
Presentation, however, was immaculate.
As a seafood lover, the swordfish crudo or the octopus tentacle would have been a better option (I'll just have to go back another time).
It is worth noting the service could not be faulted. A couple of hiccups about if or when we wanted dessert (which is always a yes), but staff were friendly and willing to explain dishes and I always appreciate seeing an open kitchen in the middle of a restaurant.
When deciding on mains, we opted to share dishes so we could better divide and conquer the menu.
We settled on one pasta, a main and side salad.
We picked a squid ink taglioni with calamari from the Hawkesbury River ($38).
The dish also contained a tomato and chilli sauce with native Warrigal greens.
This was very tasty pasta indeed. The sauce had a zing and perfectly coated the hand made pasta.
Also props to the chef for incorporating native ingredients. Indigenous ingredients are something Australian restaurants need to showcase more. Hopefully one day they become more mainstream and will be offered at the supermarket for us home cooks.
The pasta dish was on par with the carpaccio in terms of top dishes of the night.
For the mains plates, we went with a wood roast lamb rack from Cowra with zucchini, mint and pickled eschalot ($52).
The lamb was perfectly cooked with the mint and pickled flavours balancing out with the umami from the protein.
But my critique here is that I felt for $52, the lamb portion was on the slender side. Once sharing, it was a cutlet-and-a-half each.
Our salad option was a classic caprese salad with beautiful heirloom tomatoes ($13). I have no other comments than just yum.
A caprese is my go to salad. It's a meal I always eat when I am with one of my best friends. For me, its pure comfort food.
At this point, you'd think I would be rolling out of the restaurant. But when the lovely waiter came round (at the right time) asking if we would fancy a tiramisu and maybe cannoli, the answer was an obvious yes.
Starting on the tiramisu ($10), the restaurant's take on the Italian icon hit all the notes.
The marscapone cream was as soft as velvet, with the hint of cocoa that was a bittersweet reprieve from the sweet biscuit.
Tiramisu is probably one of the four desserts I know how to make and the secret is not to douse the savoiardi in coffee. Italian and Sons hit that brief.
Lastly, two freshly piped cannoli were brought to the table, accompanied by a glass of port, a request from my friend who was adamant on seeing the dessert wines.
The innards were a heavenly ricotta with a lively crunch from the cannoli shell. A perfect bite to end the night.
My time at Italian and Sons showed me why it rates highly among Canberra's eating haunts.
The meal did come with a hefty price tag, but for a special night out it is totally worth it.
Address: 7 Lonsdale St, Braddon
Phone: 6162 4888
Hours: Lunch noon-2pm (Wednesday to Friday); Dinner 5.30pm-10pm (Tuesday to Saturday)
Owners: Pascale Trimboli
Chef: Qiela Antonio
Noise: There is a buzz but conversations can be heard.
Outdoor dining: Available in the laneway.
Dietary: On request.
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