Last week we had the pleasure of visiting one of Canberra’s newest dining establishments so I thought I would share some photos and an informal review of our experience for my fellow foodies out there!
Opening its doors to much anticipation in Nov 2013, the restaurant located in the Canberra Centre aims to bring good quality, authentic Italian food to diners at value prices. After my first dining experience I would say it does this with great success.
Even after being open 3 months we were hard pressed to get a reservation, even booking a couple weeks out but we were able to get a Tuesday night after realizing a weekend was out of the question unless we were prepared to book a month away. This is partly due to the fact that the restaurant only takes bookings for half the restaurant, leaving the other half open for walk-ins. I appreciate this approach as it makes the restaurant more accessible and helps foster a casual atmosphere.
The restaurant décor is rustic and bright and the place is buzzing with activity as we walk in.
The bar is one of the main focal points, cranking out fine cocktails from a varied drinks menu with choices for all including a nice selection of Italian wines. The other focal point being the open kitchen which is split into 2 sections.
Now onto the food!
We first ordered 2 bread baskets for the 4 of us which included a variety of crackers and breads all made in house and priced at $1.50 with $1.00 of each sale going to Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia . These are accompanied by olive oil and balsamic vinegar and were a welcome snack as we waited for our drinks.
I also ordered an appetizer (or entrée for the Aussie’s reading this) which was fried three cheese gnocchi with a spicy arrabiata sauce. This was delicious and was a perfect start to the meal. The gnocchi were crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside with the spicy tomato sauce pairing well. My only request was that I had more!
For my main dish I ordered the spring pea and mint ravioli which was stuffed with ricotta, peas and parmesan with broad beans, asparagus, green beans, mint and heritage potatoes. I would describe this dish as spring on a plate. It was beautiful to look at and the flavours were bright and fresh. All of the pasta dishes come in what I would describe as lunch and dinner sizes. I opted for the dinner size even though lunch size would have been sufficient, I was splurging 😉
Of course I had to order dessert even though I was already full…. splurging remember, so I selected the trifle from a menu including such Italian favorites as tiramisu, pana cotta and affogato. It was a lovely end to the meal with its luscious layers of strawberries, jelly, custard, cream and topped with Italian meringue, it was hard to put down even though by that point I was sufficiently stuffed.
The overall price per person for 3 courses plus drinks was under $50 leaving our appetites more than satisfied without breaking the bank. It’s clear that the Naked Chef knows what he’s doing by offering authentic Italian cuisine at affordable prices he’ll surely have diners coming back time after time.
I know I’ll be back!