Saturday, May 1, 2010

Dinner at Italian and Sons

Last night was dinner at Italian and Sons, in Braddon. This is a recent (2009) new venture from the owners of Mezzalira restaurant in the city. Sporting a food and wine badge, as well as a woodfired oven and a good review from Terry Durack, I had hopes this would be good, interesting, Italian food in Canberra.

I had a Menabrea beer from Piedmont while making sense of the menu. We decided to start with a braise of vegetables (jerusalem artichokes, asparagus and peas, mainly) and two choices from the smallgoods: a salami and some prosciutto. The smallgoods were well-salted and flavoured, the prosciutto cut for soft texture with the salami pleasantly chewy. The vegetable braise offered layers of sweetness and a dominant flavour of jerusalem artichoke. The grissini provided lacked the handmade touch of the smallgoods.

We then had a dish of ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta, sauced with burnt butter and sage. Simple but well-executed, if a little unbalanced in the salting. A highlight of the dish being a clean and clear flavour to the pasta itself - not something you can often find in Canberra. The other main was a mushroom pizza from the wood oven. Brought out colder than it should have been, the taleggio was of excellent quality and the crust thin, crisped and pliable.

With both courses, we had a bottle of the 2006 vintage of Masi's Campofiorin ripasso wine. Not a vintage I'd had before, but a very good advert for how corvina, rondinella, molinara and rossignola grapes put through the partial referment ripasso process do not have to produce rich, dense, sweet wines. This was a lighter end of ripasso, and very easy drinking with the salty and savoury food.

To finish, a slice of chocolate torta, a little bitter praline and a somewhat under-flavoured mandarin sorbet, with an OK short macchiato.

I ended up 70% satisfied. The food is good, including the handmade smallgoods (sourced from Sydney), but it isn't quite good enough to compare with similar places in Melbourne. That aside, I'll be back to try more of the menu. The winelist could benefit from a few more Australian wines made from Italian varieties, but offers plenty of interesting drinking in a town short on Italian wines.

Cost, including wine and tip, $180 for two.

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