A Bite at Bravo

Bravo Trattoria

6-8 Falcon Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
(02) 9906 6630

Lunch for 2: Traditional meat lasagne and fettuccine carbonara.

Verdict: More than just take-away gelato, this restaurant offers some hearty pasta dishes that will satisfy.

I must have passed this restaurant a hundred times but I’ve never made it past the gelato cart at the front entrance. With its proximity to the Crows Nest basketball courts, I’m sure I’m not the only would-be basketballer who has justified a scoop or two of chocolate hazelnut or rum and raisin – yum!

On a lazy Saturday afternoon, hubby and I wander in here in search of a late lunch / early dinner. It was one of those funny in between times that you experience when jet-lagged. We are quite restrained and only order a pasta each. I opt for the lasagne because the menu says it is home made, and I’m in the mood for a hearty dish. Hubby loves carbonara but it isn’t on the menu; the kitchen however, obliges and makes him one.

Special request: carbonara

Traditional meat lasagne

My lasagne is just what I was hoping for. There is something about the mixture of meaty tomato sauce with a creamy cheese topping and soft folds of fresh pasta that makes this a great comfort food. As for the special request carbonara, the sauce is deliciously light and not heavy with cream, and I prefer it this way.

We are both satisfied with our meals, and enjoy the quiet ambience of having the restaurant mostly to ourselves. There is another table enjoying coffee with a slice of afternoon tea cake and the occasional father and son wander in to take away cones of gelato. As for value, we think our pastas are slightly overpriced but not unreasonable. As for service, we think Bravo Trattoria shouldn’t change a thing.

x EMH.
Bravo Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Last Minute Italian

Zia Pina Pizzeria, The Rocks

93 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9247 2255

Dinner for 2: We had the garlic prawns, garlic bread, the “Zia Pina Special” pizza, prawn pasta and tiramisu for dessert.

Verdict: For those on a budget, and looking for a quick, cheerful meal around The Rocks – recommended.

We didn’t have a booking and strolled in, hopeful that the quick turn-around and other Saturday night dining options around The Rocks area would work in our favour. The restaurant feels crowded and warm, with the lively chatter of satisfied diners and clinking of cutlery on plates. We are eventually shown a table on the upper floor, after climbing up a rather steep and narrow staircase. I’ve dined here once before, as a university student strapped for cash. Zia Pina, I remember, offered a quick and tasty feed on a budget.

Garlic Prawns

Zia Pina Special

Tiramisu - capped our night

My first impressions were not wrong, and the dining experience here was a pleasant one. The garlic prawns were juicy and the garlic bread, on a thin pizza base, packed a flavoursome punch. The pizza base was slightly soggy, but it wasn’t bad, and neither was the pasta. The highlight and surprise of the night, however, was the house-made tiramisu. It was a light serving size, but really delicious. We left the restaurant ending on a sweet note.

x EMH.

Zia Pina Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Big Mama’s, Woollahra

Big Mama’s Trattoria Italiana

51 Moncur Street
Woollahra NSW 2025
(02) 9328 7629

Dinner for 2: To start, we ordered one of their specials, zucchini flowers, along with fritelle de nannata (whitebait fritters) and fritto misto (deep fried calamari, octopus and prawns with a garlic mayonnaise). For mains, we had the home made parpadelle with braised beef and a customised prawn linguini with a white wine sauce.

Verdict: The courtyard at the back of the restaurant is a lovely surprise - tranquil and romantic with a little touch of Tuscany. Nice ambience to enjoy a relaxed dinner, with very friendly service.

Big Mama's Trattoria

From the outside, I wouldn’t have guessed that this restaurant contained such a lovely courtyard. It was quite a warm Spring evening – perfect to forgo the hustle and crowd of the indoor dining room for the dusk breeze. Service was efficient and attentive, and as we were both hungry, we quickly made our order.

The zucchini flowers were one of the specials. Usually I am a big fan, but the batter on these ones were a little too oily for my liking, and I didn’t get that light crispy, melt-in-your-mouth sensation. Similarly, the calamari and fritters were on the oily side – but I guess that’s what you ask for when you order too many fried dishes!

Zucchini Flowers

My pasta (parpadelle with braised beef) was warmly welcomed when it arrived. The sauce was satisfyingly rich, and went well with the tender morsels of beef and pasta. My one gripe was that the pasta probably had more sauce than needed - the ratio meant that the hand-made parpadelle lost some of the limelight.

Home-made Parpadelle with Braised Beef

If you’re looking for a no-stress dining out experience, Big Mama’s might be your thing. If the crowds are anything to go by, this is a family-friendly restaurant that is popular with the locals.

x EMH.

 
Big Mama on Urbanspoon

Pasta on a Rainy Day

Bar Lazio, Rozelle

656 Darling Street
Rozelle NSW 2039
(02) 98181356

Lunch for 2: We ordered the Spaghetti Lazio, one of the specials (spaghetti with prawns, bacon and mushrooms in a chilli and white wine sauce) and chicken schnitzel.

Verdict: Beautiful pasta: fresh, generous, honest. A traditional Italian family-run restaurant with warm and homely service.

Pasta Special: Spaghetti w/ prawns, mushroom and bacon in a chilli and white wine sauce

For my first restaurant review, I thought I would start with my most recent outing. Last Sunday, I had ambitions to wake up early and seize the day. I awoke to the unmistakeable sound of beating rain – not a light pitter-patter, but a rhythmic downpour. To me, this means one thing: go back to sleep! Snoozing away and waking up for the second time, I decided it was time to eat. Hubby called and said our dance lesson was being pushed forward to 2pm. This meant only 2 hours for food and travel! On such a cold and gloomy Spring day, I had a hankering for some comfort food: pasta. So off to Rozelle we drove!

Usually when I try a new restaurant, I like to peruse the menu quite carefully. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance this time, as we were in a rush and decided to order over the phone in advance so we could enter, eat and exit. [A big thank you to the owners for this - great service!] When we arrived, it was perfect timing – our pastas were ready just as we were shown to our table. The spaghetti had that lovely shine to it, and upon tasting, the pasta was cooked just right. I loved the “homeliness” and feeling of familiarity and comfort in the dish. It was full of flavour – I could taste the zing of the chilli in the back of my mouth, but it wasn’t overpowering and complemented the mushrooms, bacon and prawns. I had a generous helping of prawns (I counted 7!) and it truly was the perfect meal to brighten up a dreary day. Hubby finished his pasta very quickly, so I can only assume it was delicious! He also ordered a “side” of chicken schnitzel while I opted for an iced coffee to round up our speedy lunch. The iced coffee was surprisingly good – I liked how they used coffee ice-cream instead of vanilla for extra coffee flavour!

If only all quick lunches could be as good. I would definitely come back here for more pasta, and maybe then I could finally see the menu!

Spaghetti Lazio

 
 x EMH.
 

Bar Lazio on Urbanspoon

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