Sydney Restaurant Review
Trattoria style ... Italian and Sons' interior ticks all the right boxes. Photo: Glen McCurtayne Reviewer rating: Rating: 35 out of 5 stars Reader rating: Rating: 40 out of 5 stars (37 votes) Address 7 Lonsdale St, Braddon, ACT 2612 Phone 02 6162 4888 Style Restaurant Cuisine Italian Hours TuesFri, lunch, Mon Sat, dinner Payment AMEX, Diners Club, EFTPOS, Mastercard, Visa Price Guide Around $100 for two, plus wine Features Licensed Wine Lively Italianled list Chefs Carolyn Miller and Pasquale Trimboli Owners The Trimboli Group Website This is just like the time I reviewed a restaurant called Bizzarri and rang the next day to ask how they came up with such a silly name for the place. ''It's my name,'' said Mr Bizzarri. Oh. Advertisement: Story continues below The one dish you must try ... Woodbaked focaccia with rosemary and sea salt ($8). Photo: Glen McCurtayne This time, it's a hot, new trattoria in Canberra called Italian and Sons, flogging ''vino e cucina'' in a modern urban space in our most capital of cities. Italian and Sons? Oh, come on. We already have Maurice Terzini and Robert Marchetti's Giuseppe ArnaldoSons in Melbourne, I think to myself. Australian restaurants really need to be more personal, original and less ''inspired'' by the successes of the day. But I go anyway and I love it. It's fast and fun and a great mix of Italian, new and old. The next day, I bail up one of the owners and ask straightup why they named the place Italian and Sons. ''My father Rosario is Italian,'' Pasquale Trimboli says. ''And Dominic, Joe, Vince and I are his sons.'' Oh. The Trimboli Group, which also owns Mezzalira, a more formal Italian ristorante in Canberra, opened this cheeky upstart seven months ago, installing Pasquale as pizza chef and Mezzalira's Carolyn Miller as kitchen chef. It's a doglegged, barfronted room that ticks all the trattoria comfortlevel boxes: espresso machine, woodfired pizza oven, hanging salumi, bentwood chairs and papertopped tables. A ruthless rostering of booking times means two busy, buzzy sittings a night; the second Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin) younger and more glamorous than the first. And yes, it does feel familiar to those who frequent North Bondi Italian in Sydney or Giuseppe ArnaldoSons, with its Italian flag colours, blackboard walls and serried ranks of Campari bottles as decor. But I like the nine different Italian beers on offer, the lively Italianled wine list and the energy and attitude of the waitstaff in their oldfashioned white aprons. And I love seeing a woodfired oven used properly, not just for pizza but for daily specials of ovenroasted meats, including Romanstyle porchetta, beef fillet tagliata style and slowcooked lamb stracotto (stew). The carbheavy menu lists antipasti, affettati (cold meats), pasta, pizze, insalate, dolci and formaggi. Most people seem to share a few small plates of bruschetta, calamari or garlic prawns, then hit the pizza. It looks great thincrusted and simply accessorised but instead I go for a floppy, puffy, charred, crusty round of focaccia topped with nothing but sea salt and rosemary ($8). It is utterly magnificent, the best I've had outside Liguria, and every mouthful brings the smell of clean ironbark smoke to the nose. Teamed with an affettati platter of cured meats (from $10 to $23), it's a meal in itself. All but the imported prosciutto freshly sliced, woodsy and nutty are from Sydney's Quattro Stelle and are beautifully handled, particularly the 'nduja (pronounced endooya), a warm spreadable paste of chillispiked Calabrian salami, which is an overthetop, spicy, oily treat. Baccala fritters ($15) are wonderfully light golf balls of milkpoached salt cod, crumbed and fried until golden. It's about now that I decide I couldn't give a fico (fig) if they'd ripped off the Sistine Chapel itself. Whatever they are doing, they are doing it well. The strongly flavoured, wellformed, rustic food is easy to eat and to share; unapologetically heavy on salt, rosemary, garlic, chilli, olive oil and vinegar. Luckily the wine list seems to be coming from the same place, leading off with spumante and prosecco, passing through Antinori in Tuscany and Planeta in Sicily and coming to rest in Australia with a latepicked riesling from the Canberra region.
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