Depending on your experience, it can either be frustrating or fantastic trying restaurants when you’ve moved to a new location. At times, A and I are enjoying this aspect of Canberra, whereas at others, we hate that we don’t have usual haunts we can rely on for an excellent meal. Thankfully, our evening at Italian and Sons was fantastic and left us both in a state of euphoria.
Italian and Sons isn’t just a favourite of A and I – it was one of the few Canberra’s restaurants awarded one hat by The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and is well-regarded by numerous national food publications for excellent Italian food. As A has been an incredibly supportive girlfriend during our interstate move, I decided that Italian and Sons would be the perfect venue for a ‘thank you’ dinner.
The décor at Italian and Sons is similar to a typical trattoria, with wooden tables and chairs, specials listed on a blackboard and a wood-fired oven. It’s a cosy space which adds to the ambience of your night out and A and I loved this aspect of the restaurant.
The menu features regional Italian cuisine – but the winning trait is that Italian and Sons aim to use the best local produce available which have been sourced through local producers or from their farm. For my entrée, I ordered the evening special of wood-roasted Flinders Island lamb loin with broad bean, pea, asparagus and beetroot puree ($21). Unfortunately, I found this dish a little bland and the lamb a little chewy. I think it comes down to personal preference – I would have preferred my lamb rarer and the dish seasoned further.
A ordered the wood-baked tomato, eggplant and basil ‘parmigiana’ ($16) and it was spectacular. The eggplant was the hero of the dish, with the layering of cheese and tomato adding different flavours and textures. I had serious food envy and will be ordering this the next time I head to Italian and Sons.
For our mains, I ordered the pappardelle al funghi – chestnut pappardelle with wild mushroom & porcini ragu and pecorino tartufato ($28). This dish was everything I hope for when eating out – the dish that leaves you cherishing every mouthful to savour the taste and to delay the end of the meal. This dish did exactly that, with its perfectly cooked al dente pasta and perfect mushroom and porcini ragu, which had a strong garlic flavour to contrast the delicate flavours of the mushrooms. An amazing dish that has me thinking about it often. I’d also like to say that it was my favourite plate of pasta this year – even better than those I sampled in Italy earlier in the year.
A ordered the Saturday ‘Piatto’ of wet-roast Yass Valley suckling lamb ‘stracotto’ with tomato, ligurian black olive & rosemary ($34). Unfortunately, A found the lamb a little too chewy and thought that the flavour combination lacked contrast and was a little dull.
Both A and I loved the witlof, pear & aged balsamic salad ($11), which was an excellent accompaniment to both of our dishes.
A and I also ordered dessert and on this occasion, we ordered what the other usually picks – A chose the flourless chocolate torte with rhubarb, amarena cherries and pistachio crumb ($13) whereas I ordered the warm panettone with date & almond ‘budino’ with amaretto zabaglione ($14).
The warm panettone, date & almond budino (a sweet Italian dish that is similar to a pudding) was spectacular and something that I’d not usually order. The panettone, date and almond filling was sweet and creamy but it was also crunchy on top. The amaretto zabaglione was a lovely accompaniment, as it had a marzipan flavour to it and was thick and creamy. Another standout dish that I highly recommend.
A enjoyed her flourless chocolate torte, which she found to be sweet but not too rich. The rhubarb, amarena cherries and pistachio crumb were an excellent match to contrast the flavour of the chocolate torte.
We really enjoyed our dinner at Italian and Sons, regardless of the two lamb dishes that we didn’t particularly enjoy. The other dishes were excellent, with the ambience of Italian and Sons adding to our enjoyment. We also found the service throughout the night attentive yet not overbearing and we both thought that the bill at the end of the evening (totalling $159) was reasonable for three courses and two glasses of wine.
I’ll be thinking of the budino and pappardelle dishes for weeks, if not months and can’t wait to return.