Italian Cuisine

All posts tagged Italian Cuisine

Restaurant Review – il Gusto Italian Restaurant (Melbourne)

Published September 14, 2010 by Mary Jane

Evening bloggy friends, hope this post finds everyone well. I was so tired, hoping that this morning I wouldn’t get called into work so I can catch up on my beauty sleep. Thankfully, my dream came true. I woke up and it was nearly mid day..hehehe I know it’s pretty slack, but I needed that sleep due to previous night of not much sleep thanks to the cup of tea. So today, I went to QV & Vic Market to do some grocery shopping and bought some nice herbal tea, now I can drink them knowing that I’ll still be able to sleep. Okies, as some of you might know in Melbourne there’s heaps of great restaurants, and on Lygon street you get the whole streets worth of Italian Restaurants. Decisions, decisions, which one is better – and watch out too there’s usually people harassing you trying to get you to go inside to their restaurant and give you special discounts and bargains.

So this particular restaurant was recommended by one of our friend, whos been there before and said they do awesome pastas. So we thought let’s give it a try. Straight away you can spot this Italian Papa looking dude standing outside the restaurant with a menu asking customers to go in and try. Then you realise that this restaurant don’t give any discounts or bargains. So we were curious and asked the Papa why? He replied with an Italian accent cos our price is so cheap already and our food is so good we don’t need to give any discount!!

When you walked into the restaurant you can see the red table clothes, the whole decor of the restaurant looks Italian with it’s flags danging from the rail. It’s quite a small restaurant but there’s also upstairs as well. We were greeted by Indian looking waiters who were really friendly. Our friend managed to bargain with Italian Papa for a bruschetta for free..

They were a little on the stingy side, there are four of us and we only received 3 bruschetta and the Italian Papa recommended us sharing an entree squid dish – which was a main size. He was rather clever or should I say cunning in recommending us that dish as it was so expensive for a few squid..

The squids were nicely done but there was only 8 pieces of them – for the price we pay – I think we got slugged hehehe so Italian Papa won by giving us a free Bruschetta – but it’s not really free after all.

Then we decided most Italian servings of pastas are quite huge, so both Pandabear and I went for the entree size pasta rather than the main size, the waiter was trying to persuade us into getting a mains size. But we stuck to our decisions and it was a wise one too!

spaghetti marinara

spaghetti marinara

Our friends had the spaghetti marinara and Pandabear and I decided to share a salmon tomato based pasta and a chicken & avocado creamy pasta.

Chicken Avocado Pasta

Chicken Avocado Pasta

The presentations of the pasta looked pretty cook, but well as for taste it was a little disappointing. Our friends seemed have enjoyed their spaghetti marinara but as for our pasta, the salmon tomato based pasta the sauce tasted like it came from the jar, not fresh and neither does the pasta taste fresh tasted like it’s a dried pasta. For the chicken & avocado pasta – the avocados was overpowering, all we could taste was the avocado and once again the pasta didn’t taste fresh. So we were both glad we had the entree size.

So after we finish our meals, they ask us whether we wanted any dessert, we said no. I spotted at the counter an Indian guy standing there. I was curious so I asked Italian Papa whether he owns the restaurant and he said No! Who owns this restaurant then he points it to the Indian guy and the chef is Indian too? He said yes, but Italian trained..um…that will explain it, unfortunately, I’m one of those people that believe if you want excellent Japanese food you must eat at one with a Japanese chef. Now there’s always exceptions like if they are trained overseas and have mastered their skills at that particular cuisine. That would explain why the pasta just didn’t taste quite right.

Here’s my rating:

Dining experience: 3 star
Food experience: 3 star
Would I recommend it? No – sorry, feel abit ripped off by the squid dish and the pastas were not up to scratch!

Restaurant Review – Bryndisi Italian Restaurant (San Francisco)

Published June 21, 2010 by Mary Jane

Evening Bloggy Friends, well I’ve had a productive day today thank goodness. Two days ago I was bed ridden sleeping 15+ hours and waking up to eat bland fish porridge and watching episode of Judge Judy & Ready Steady Cook. Today, I listened to my GP and had a day off from work to stay home to rest. Thank God, I am getting better – my tummy is less sore and my appetite is slowly coming back, I even sneakily ate alittle of my salt and pepper squid & cheese bake broccoli left overs from Pandabear’s last night’s dinner. Cos I had my usual fish porridge, I’m on light diet – which consists of plenty of fluid, soup, porridge, no dairy, no sugary food and no fat!! Life is boring without those categories of food, lunch time I found some left over cuts of pumpkin and made myself some pumpkin porridge. Tonight I said to Pandabear I’m so sick of my light diet food of 3 days. He said to me well, why don’t we get some Red Rooster for dinner tonight that way you don’t have to cook and rest more. I got excited my eyes lit up and I was ready for my mayo chicken roll along with some gravy mash potatoes along with a healthy drink of Vitamin Water.

After finishing my dinner, I was regretting it cos my tummy didn’t feel too well. Pandabear was like slow down with your eating you finished your dinner within 15 minutes that’s why your tummy is not feeling too well. So I decided to go upstairs and continue reading a book by Tow Siang Hwa – Foot Prints in the sands of time an autobiography of Dr Tow Siang Hwa’s life and watching an episode of Masterchef. So as I was saying I had a productive day today, feeling better than yesterday I’ve decided not to sleep for 15+ hours today but woke up around 11am and ate some brekkie, washed some loads of washing, contacted GP clinic to see how I can avoid queuing up at Medicare to claim the gap, contacted the Car insurance as the renewal is coming up and it’s so expensive – I saved myself an additional $70 bonus 🙂 and read through the whole book of Foot Prints in the sands of time by Dr Tow Siang Hwa- an inspiring book which I would recommend to all readers. My only questions is there’s not much mention of his kids? I wonder why, I shall ask him myself when he next visit Perth again. 🙂

Anyways, still in the mindset of San Francisco we decided to have a nice Italian meal for our dinner so asked the concierge which Authentic Italian Restaurant would he recommend, he suggested a few and advise us to rock up to this alley of little streets which consists of Italian, Greek and American Bar & Grill restaurants. I was so excited a whole street of Italian, Greek and American Bar & Grill restaurant – how exciting. So we decided to walk there cos it’s only a few blocks, when we got there it was fascinating – neon lights and signs displaying each little restaurants, there were at least 6 restaurants to choose from. So we decided to go through each restaurants to briefly look at their menus. Each restaurants had a staff standing outside giving customers a copy of their restaurant menu. Finally we got to the last restaurant called Bryndisi Cucina Di Mare, a nice lady was showing us their menu which consist of wood fired pizza, pasta and meat dishes. We decided let’s tried this Italian restaurant it was rather packed inside so they sat us down a table of two outside freezing cold. Fortunately they had a heater on outside.

Neon lights & signs

Neon lights & signs


Bryndisi Cucina Di Mare

Bryndisi Cucina Di Mare

okies, so we had a look through our menu, I suggested we must try their woodfire pizzas and grab a pasta to share that should fill our tummy. So the waiter came, he sounded italian so he got us some fresh warm bread rolls – complimentary that’s nice and we get to dip into this awesome spinach olive oil – I was sure there’s another herb in it but was too hungry so I scoffed it down.

bread rolls with spinach olive oil

bread rolls with spinach olive oil

Now when it came to ordering the waiter arrived and asked us what we should have. I went we want a woodfire pizza and a pasta dish, for the woodfired pizza I chose a pizza by the name of Capricciosa – which consists of artichokes, mushrooms, olives, mozzarella, prosciutto and tomato and I asked the waiter “is there a signature pasta dish that you could recommend to us?” he replied “certainly mam, if you like our pasta dish – Linguini Allo Scrigno – which is a pasta baked in a pizza crust which consists of tomatoes and seafood. I was really excited I’ve never had a pasta baked inside a pizza crust – really looking forward to it.

So the pizza arrived first – wow it was huge and the presentation was fantastic, all the fresh ingredients and colour on a thin sliced woodfire pizza, the waiter layered it on top of a wire stand which made it look even more impressive.

Capricciosa Woodfire Pizza

Capricciosa Woodfire Pizza

The Linguini Allo Scrigno shortly followed, and the presentation was amazing. The waiter gently placed the dish on the table.

Linguini Allo Scrigno

Linguini Allo Scrigno

You may be amazed how I could remember the dishe’s names with my fish memory. Well, I wrote them down on my book that’s why! Ha there’s no way I could remember those names. Anyways, the waiter slowly made a cut and the moment he cut it open the steam of fresh seafood aroma rushes into us – it smelt delicious.

Linguini Allo Scrigno cut opened

Linguini Allo Scrigno cut opened

Now I asked the waiter whether we could eat the pizza crust on top, he said ofcourse you can dip them into the sauces and it taste great! So that’s exactly what I did, the pizza crust was crunchy and tasty – not doughy, thin and when you dip them into the pasta sauce it was very flavoursome. However, I had to remind myself not to be carry away with this pizza crust when I had a whole woodfire pizza to finish. So we must be pretty hungry cos both Pandabear and myself managed to finished the whole pizza and our pasta baked dish. The seafood was fantastic fresh, mussels, prawns, fish & scallops were tender not over cooked. I generally don’t like tomato based pasta but the tomato based sauce was infused with the seafood so it gave that extra bit of kick when you eat it. I loved it! Certainly was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten. The food waiting time was great, we received our meal within 10-15 minutes. The staff were friendly.

Here’s my ratings:

Dining Experience: 4.5 star
Food Experience: 4.5 star
Would I recommend: Absolutely YES!

When the waiter came back to collect our empty plates he asked us how we went with our dishes – I said “Balisimo” he replied in some Italian I have no clue what it means maybe some where along the lines of ‘That’s great, we hope to see you again’ so before we left I told the girls we really enjoyed our meal and we found out the lady was the owner’s daughter and apparently they own another 2 Italian restaurant down the streets selling different dishes. How bizarre?? Wouldn’t they be competing against each other? Well, perhaps they all got their different signature dishes and specialties, I said I would come back to try another two if I have time and it turned out we didn’t have time…oh well, there’s always next time 🙂

Restuarant Review – Sebastians Italian Cafe

Published February 3, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hello People, time for some restaurant review. This time we are heading down to the Italian Cafe in East Victoria Park. It’s always packed so we wanted to check this place out. So when we got there, there were quite a few tables filled up already. The waitress seemed rather friendly set us down to our table and gave us some water. So we ordered the mains. we waited for our food and it took around 20 minutes for them to serve our main, I think it’s ok provided they were really busy that night. I had the chicken with the avocado sauce. The chicken breast was tender, not dry and I love the sauce very nicely done. Very creamy and not too rich and it complimented well with the simple salad as a side serve. Others had creamy seafood penne and they said it was quite nice, not a huge serving but enough to satisfy your tummy. Mum had the fish and chips and she said the fish was huge, but it was really well done – tender and delicious. my sister ordered steak with mushroom sauce and it came with hot chips. She was pleased with her food. I had a taste of her mushroom sauce as there seemed alot of mushrooms floating in her sauces and I love mushrooms – the sauce was delicious. 🙂 The kids had spaghetti bolognaise and it was quite good, nothing spectacular. I would definitely recommend dining at this restaurant as their serving was sufficient and quite tasty 🙂

Here’s my rating:

Dining Experience: 4 star
Food Experience: 4 star
Would I recommend going: YES

Chicken with Avocado sauce

Chicken with Avocado sauce

Seafood Penne

Seafood Penne

Fish and chips

Fish and chips

Steak with Mushroom Sauce

Steak with Mushroom Sauce

Spaquetti with Bolognaise sauce

Spaquetti with Bolognaise sauce

Comfort Food Recipe – Lasagna

Published February 3, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hello people, I’m struggling today – low energy and feeling tired. Thankfully, Pandabear has sms me and said we’re taking take away tonight cos I ain’t got any energy to cook tonight. So this particular recipe has quite a few variations, but mine is pretty simple and tasty. And it tasted just as great if you leave it in the fridge over night and reheat in oven or microwave. So here it is 🙂

Lasagna

Ingredients

Thin sheets of lasagna in packet
500g beef mince
2 tin cans of tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 chilli
1 table spoon of herb spices
small block of Parmesan sauce

Instructions

1. Heat pan with oil, and add in minced garlic and brown the beef mince. Add in chopped chilli and herb spices. Add in tin cans of tomatoes. Stir into sauce.

2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees, and in a baking dish lay out the lasagna sheets (it usually comes into packets – you can buy them in any supermarket), pour the sauce to cover the lasagna sheets, and lay the lasagna sheets on top and then pour the sauce in again. So do it alternatively until you’ve used up all the sauces.

3. Grate Parmesan on top of the baking dish and put it in the oven and bake it around 40-45 minutes until the lasagna sheets are cooked through. Now for creamy sauce in between you can adopt mixing flour and butter with some milk or alternatively add in fresh cream mixture and lay it in between the lasagna sheets. However, if you are lazy – the tomato based lasagna is also good enough 🙂

Enjoy…

Lasagna

Lasagna

Comfort Food Recipe – Meatballs with Spaghetti

Published January 26, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hello everyone, okies as I’ve mentioned earlier my favourite Chef is Jamie Oliver so I’ve since learn a few of his simple dishes from video clips of Ministry of Food and they’re so simple I thought I’ll try them out at our family Christmas dinner and everyone loved it 🙂 so I’m going to share some of the dishes I’ve cooked. This particular dish is so simple even the kids loves it – Meatballs with spaghetti tomato sauce. Honestly I used to prefer creamy carbonara sauce but some tomato based sauce for pastas is pretty good as well.

Here it is…

Meatballs with Spaghetti

Ingredients

500g minced beef
1 packet of crackers
1 egg
1 small bunch of rosemary
1 table spoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of mustard
Parmesan cheese
2 tin cans of tomatoes
1 chilli
1 bunch of basil

Instructions

1. Add in a big bowl, beef mince, oregano, mustard, egg, sliced rosemary

2. You need bread crumbs for binding the meat together – use 1/2 packet of cream crackers and put it inside a tea towel and bash it with a rolling pin so that the crackers become bread crumbs – it feels great bashing things when you’re under pressure hehehehe

3. Mix the bread crumbs into the big bowl and use your hands to mix and roll the beef mince mixture into little balls – you can add some water to make it a little smooth and shiny. Try to make the meat balls into similar sizes otherwise they will cook at different times.

4. Add olive oil in pan, drop the meat balls into the pan and fry it for around 8 minutes on a medium high heat or until golden brown and crisp. Set it aside

5. Boil water and add teaspoon of salt and throw in the spaghetti. The salt is used to season the pasta

6. Now we are making the sauce – add 2 cloves of minced garlic and slice the chilli stir fry it until there’s some colour and quickly add in chopped basil and 2 tins of tomatoes. Pop the meat balls into the pan

7. Drain the pasta and dump it into the pan, sprinkle it with basil and grated Parmesan cheese and if you follow the Italian style drizzle it with some olive oil.

This dish is so simple and tasty – you won’t go wrong with it 🙂

Enjoy…

Meat Balls with Spaquetti

Meat Balls with Spaghetti

Comfort Food Recipe – Home Made Pizza

Published January 24, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hello there, I love pizza especially home made ones because you can add as much ingredients as you like and remove the ones that you don’t like. Also they taste very fresh different to the pizzas you buy from take away shops. So it is a little hassle to go and buy individual ingredients for the topping but once in a while is well worth it. 🙂

Here it is…

Home Made Pizza

Ingredients

2 cups of plain flour
1 x 8g sachet of dry yeast
1 teaspoon of caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoon of olive oil
3/4 cup of warm water

Instructions

1. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add oil and water.

2. Mix to a soft dough

3. Knead on a floured surface until soft and elastic

4. Return into the mixing bowl and cover with a glad wrap and leave in a warm spot for 30 mintues and the dough should double in size. My secret is to pop it into a preheated oven that way it warms up quicker.

5. When it has risen, punch the dough once to remove air bubbles.

6. Remove from bowl and knead gently for a few minutes.

7. Roll the dough out to round circles to desired size, thinner = thin crust and thicker = thick crust and add your toppings – my favourites are olives, cheddar cheese, mushrooms, capsicum, bbq chicken. Pandabear loves pineapple, ham and cheese.

8. Pop it in the oven and bake under 180 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until it’s golden brown and cooked 🙂

It’s delicious, and very easy to make..

Enjoy…

Home Made Pizza

Home Made Pizza

Comfort Food Recipe – Chilli Mussels

Published January 20, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hello everyone, I think chilli mussels is one of the popular dishes amongst other Italian food. I’m not a full on mussel person but I love chilli mussels cos of the chilli and dipping sauce…yum yum…so having tasted so many versions of chilli mussels in different restaurants. I have come up a version of my own which is simple and quick and you can’t go wrong…so I hope you enjoy it and it’s best over a glass of white wine…here it is 🙂

Chilli Mussels

Ingredients
500g of mussels
some chillies
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
2 x cans of tin tomatoes
some basils
some white wine

Instructions
1. Scrub and wash the mussels, the last thing you want is some seaweed or some seagrass going into your chilli mussels so get into it by scrubbing the mussels with a steel wool or brush. Mussels are best serve fresh so if you buy it that day try to cook it that night otherwise you can store them inside the fridge and eventually they will fall asleep and the next day just wash them with water and they will come alive again. Soak the mussels in cold water and some that floats up usually they are dead so you can get rid of them.
2. mince up garlic, chop up chillies, basils – chillies and basils are best mates I love both and it really goes well with chilli mussels. So heat up the pan with some olive oil, chuck in garlic, chillie until you can smell the aroma chuck in half of basils and then chuck in mussels. As mussels cook pretty quickly, drizzle with some white wine, add the 2 cans of tin tomatoes put the lid on for a few minute and you will see all the mussels starts to open up and just stir around make sure you don’t over do it cos the mussel meat will fell out of it’s shell and then salt and pepper to season and add the rest of basil on top. You can serve it in a big bowl and along with some crusty bread and dip your bread into the thick aroma tomato sauce and it’s delicious oh yeah, don’t forget you can also accompany this dish with a nice glass of white wine. There you have it simple and quick chilli mussels that always works 🙂

Enjoy…