I don’t expect to like Italian and Sons. I don’t really feel like Italian and just how many tables are crammed into the small space on Lonsdale Street raises my eyebrows – but I’m surprised with how much I like the food and experience.
We arrive at 6.30pm and the restaurant is absolutely packed. The tables are so close together that we have to walk a rather odd way to our table on the side of the restaurant.
Once we’re seated, it’s fine – it’s a good location, and there’s no jostling or bumping of the seats as people walk past, despite how crowded it is.
The service is friendly and attentive, with the right balance between a few questions without being annoying. But, throughout the night, four or five waiters serve our table. There’s a waiter for the water, then the wine, then a waiter who tells us the specials and takes our orders, then one of them comes back with some dishes, and another with some other dishes – you get the picture. Given the amount of staff, it’s a credit to them that it’s just a few occasions when we’re asked the same question one of their colleagues has asked moments before.
Like I said in this post, there’s something a bit more intimate and personal when you have the one waiter. Maybe it’s not possible in a really busy restaurant like Italian and Sons, but I think it would add a lot to counter the otherwise slightly frenetic feel.
And, there are a lot of specials. A lot of specials. We’re taken through the five antipasti specials (I only remember the last one) before we even start on the main specials. Phew! No prices are given, but we don’t ask, either. The thing is: from what we’re able to hear (and remember!) the specials sound really good, and we order two.
The calamari (this is a special, so I don’t have the details on the price or ingredients!) is tasty, if not a touch chewy, but presented beautifully. The batter could probably have done with a few seconds more cooking, but that’s hardly a criticism.
The pumpkin pasta is another specials dish, but this is really, really good. The pumpkin is savoury, but offset by what I think are roast currants and pepitas. This is a tasty dish with a good match of flavours. Would definitely order it again if I heard it (managed to hear it?) on the specials!
The eggplant parmigiana has a lovely rich tomato base and a strong hint of basil throughout. The cast iron post is hot (but we’re warned!) it’s a filling dish. Yum!
We could eat antipasti all night, but we opt for a potato and gorgonzola pizza to fill us up. It’s okay, but we have to search for those gorgonzola flavour hits. While authentic, for the price I think it could learn a little from Bridge Road Brewers!
We’re not quite full, so we opt to see the dessert and wine menus again. There’s a lovely moscatel which, chilled, makes for good drinking (though is almost three times the price at Dan Murphy’s).
Given some of the sweetness in our mains, we’re more keen on the cheese platter, offered for $12 (one), $20 (two) or $27 (three cheeses), as well as nuts, thin bread, apple and grapes. We choose a hard cow/sheep mix from Italy which is excellent, and reminds us of one of our favourites, and a hard blue goat’s cheese (verde capra). It’s a bigger platter than I expect, and a lovely finish.
Date: Saturday, 10 May 2014
Where: 7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
Cost: $188, including three antipasti, one pizza, two cheeses, one bottle of dessert wine and one bottle of (lovely) prosecco)
Value for money: Medium