With French / African / Schnitzel cuisines already ticked, Italian was due for a tarriance.
A Tavola in Darlinghurst…
There is no doubt the restaurant is pretty. It’s inviting; warm, dimly lit, with a beautiful heavy marble communal table that runs down the length of the narrow front dining room. A Tavola means “to the table” and this table seats about 20 or so, but there are other smaller tables hunched in next to the outer walls if your not keen on hearing strangers conversations (more on that later). Underneath the cold slab of marble, they’ve stuck sheets of foam eggshells so that you dont knock your knees (or head…), so when I told Janine to touch underneath the table, I didnt expect her to scream, very loudly, which she did and caused us all fits of laughter for the next 3 minutes or so!
We started with Baked Olives (for Neen), which were deliciously crumbed and full of fat juicy olives with a sort of olive tapanade; Buffalo Mozzarella, Rocket, Vine Ripened Tomato, Prosciutto salad (for me) which was creamy, salty mozzarella with bitey rocket and sweet, juicy little cherry tomatoes with smokey strips of the Italian ham. Jay had a rabbit terrine which he liked but forgot it was served cold, so he had a bit of salad envy….Ian had something which he wolfed down so quickly that I didnt even get a good look at it!
Next up was the blackboard specials for us all; Janine & I had the ‘triangoli con guaucia di manzo’ – translation; succulent and sweet beef cheek ravioli. Jay & Ian had the ‘parppardelle con ragu di agnello e bortolli’ – interpretation; parpadelli with shredded lamb, lemon and bortolli beans. All the pasta from the supplemental menu is handmade daily. At the end of the table, just outside the kitchen are racks of drying pasta hanging like smooth fat ribbons.
After sitting back in our chairs ‘gloaming’ (the action Jay accounts as sitting happily with bulging tummies after the meal) for a while, we agreed to partake of the dessert list…mmmmmm, dessert.
Jay & Neen seem to have the same sweet tastebuds, so they each had the ‘Bombe Neve’ which is a caramel Bomb Alaska. Ian wouldnt agree on going halves in the triple-choc dessert with me, ‘piatto a cioccolato’ so while he underwent death by chocolate, I had the organsim inducing, utterly divine Mandarin Panna Cotta (panna cotta al mandarino)….creamy layers of vanilla-bean panna cotta and fruity mandarin jelly. I seriously zoned out of the conversation; hypnotized in my martini glass dessert.
In addition to the deliciously simple flavours, the bathroom has lavendar scented Aseop products. The service is a little non committal. He’s there fussing around you at the beginning, then when you’ve run out of water or need the bill he’s no where to be found. To compliment our already titilating conversation, we ended up having additional entertainment in the form of a dysfunctional family arguing right next to us. Because of the communal table, you can pretty much hear everything. We happened to be sitting next to Days of Our Lives drama – young couple with affair-having father seated next to his mistress and her friend. Intense conversation, punctuated with the F-word, tears and ending with half the group storming out, mains uneaten. What a waste!
All in all alimento meraviglioso, buoni amici, sera divertente!