La Svolta

September 21, 2013

3-5 Cecil Place, Prahran

A little while ago I was kindly invited to attend a blogger’s event at La Svolta in Prahran to sample their menu for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s Spring Graze Event. It’s on tomorrow, Sunday 22nd September, with this special menu offered for lunch, and I’d highly recommend a visit.

As part of their new and improved year-long program, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival now organises a number of events to reign in Spring, with lots of restaurants putting on fantastic courses of Spring lamb, new season vegetables and wines to match. La Svolta, an Italian pizzeria and trattoria in Prahran, is one of them.

I’ve been meaning to visit La Svolta for some time – last year they won Pizzeria of the year at the Melbourne Pizza Festival, and I’ve heard many people rave about their top-notch, authentic Italian fare, so I jumped at the chance to eat there and try other parts of their menu. All local produce for our degustation dinner had been sourced from restauranteur Carimine Constatini’s farm in Yea, and we were treated to a small taster of each dish offered on their Spring Graze menu.

The restaurant is nicely fitted out, with a fantastic exposed brick wall and packets of produce tucked into little shelves. A map of Italy chalked onto a blackboard wall also includes the dessert menu and the wines available by the glass. The staff are very friendly, authentically Italian, and clearly passionate about their food. The open kitchen, wood fired oven proudly on display, lends itself to a warm atmosphere, and the tables around us were full of chatter and laughter.

We began with a beautiful little plate of beef carpaccio, sliced so thinly it melted in your mouth, with wild rucola and shaved parmigiano. I love the pink hue of the sheets of beef against the blue plate. A fantastic teaser with which to start the meal!

Our dishes were matched with Cafe di Stasio wines from the Yarra Valley, first a glass of 2011 Chardonnay, followed by a 2011 Pinot Noir.

A a second antipasti of verdure pastellate, a plate of lightly fried vegetables with a trio of aioli: garlic, parsley/caper and red pepper. It was introduced as a sort of ‘Italian tempura’, and while the batter wasn’t quite as light as tempura, the fried tomato was a bit of a revelation. I particularly loved the sinfully garlicky aioli.

Following our (rather substantial) antipasti, we were treated to two (2) primi dishes! The risotto burrata with fresh basil and a light salsa di pepperoni was beautifully sweet, nicely balanced and lifted to another level by the creamy, milky burrata that slowly melted and swirled into the al dente rice.

Secondly, my favourite dish from the evening, a spectacular plate of handmade carciofo pasta with artichoke, chilli and guanciale, a type of pancetta that comes from the pig’s cheek. It was delightfully fatty and bacon-like, and went so well with the chewy pasta and slight kick of chilli. I was getting quite full by this stage but I loved this so much I finished the whole bowl! Such a great dish, and a really clever textural contrast.

Then (as if we hadn’t been spoiled enough already), a taster of the two secondi courses plated together. On the left side of the plate, a grilled lamb cutlet with artichokes, lime and mint. On the right side of the plate, a generous piece of porterhouse with spring onion mash and madeira sauce.

Both lamb and steak we perfectly cooked – lovely and pink in the middle. I preferred the lamb but that’s probably just my Greek heritage coming through! Having said that, the madeira sauce was fantastic with the beef.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for dessert – I had a frightfully early start the next morning so needed some beauty sleep. You can check out the desserts (panna cotta and zabaione) on offer over at Peach Water and Gastrology.

Suffice to say, I was very impressed with the food we had, in particular the carpaccio and the carciofo pasta, so beautifully executed! I will most certainly be back in the near future to try their pizza! If you’re looking for somewhere to spoil a loved one with Sunday lunch, look no further than La Svolta!

Finally, a tremendous thank you to Jefsie from Little Big Marketing for inviting me to the event!

La Svolta Pizzeria e Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Filed under: Italian, Prahran