Osteria la PassioneMarch 26, 2011
A little while ago (read: last month) we went out to celebrate D’s birthday at a new Italian osteria in Bridge Rd, Richmond. The chef is Carmine Constantini, who we first met when he was working at the Tea Rooms of Yarck (a most delicious feed, if you’re ever in NE Victoria). He’s recently opened up his own place, where there’s no menu, you just pay a fixed price (and add on if you’re really hungry and want more courses), and let the chefs decided what to serve you, based on market availability and what he feels like making. Easy peasy!
We began with a small plate of zuccini chips, sliced finely and fried till crisp, delicious and surprisingly sweet. Then we were given a series of small dishes to whet our appetites, which were all delicate and tasty but rather homely and warm at the same time.
- Yabbies poached and then served straight with a little olive oil and lemon (fresh and delicious, I love the slightly muddy, earthy taste of yabbies as compared to prawns).
- Beautifully tender discs of octopus in a salad.
- Marinated mussels, and a bacalhau fritter (good grief I LOVE salted cod! Any Italian/Greek/Spanish person will agree)
- Pepperonata and Cauliflower with vinetta dressing. Pepperonatta is a wonderfully sweet dish of marinated red capsicums in olive oil, and I actually liked the cauliflower done this way!
Our pasta dish was giant tortellini with ricotta and spinach, served in a delectable sage butter sauce. I really enjoyed this but thought it was a little small for a pasta dish, only two pieces of tortellini, especially seeing as most other tables around us got good sized swirls of angel hair pasta mushrooms and peas.
The main problem I had with this place (and it may seem petty now, but trust me it was crucial then) was the time gap between entrees and main. Yes, I understand the concept of having a long, slow meal, but this was just ridiculous, over 45 mins between the pasta and the main? A number of other good restaurants I’ve been to have been able to match the desired speed of each table, so I found myself frustrated that they couldn’t pick up on this. But anyway.
Our mains (when they finally arrived) were delicious, I certainly can’t fault the kitchen on taste. First up was suckling pig, juicy and soft with potatoes and bitter italian cabbage sauteed with spinach, so moreish. Then we got a wonderful, winey beef stew done simply (like mum would at home) with carrots and celery, such an intense flavour.
Our meal was unfortunately cut short by A developing a terrible migraine, so we left without dessert (which was disappointing because I was looking forward to having the tiramisu), but not tragic because we were all very full anyway (and hanging around for dessert probably would have taken another hour!). Overall good, simple, tasty, honest food, but not so fabulous service which was attentive but lacking good management.
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