YOU know you’re in a warm and fuzzy restaurant when you read “our story” on the menu. And in the case of Santa Lucia, the story is about Caterina and Francesco Catanzariti, who came here from Calabria in 1956 intent on leading a wonderful life and sharing with Australia their passion for homemade, traditional Italian food.
The menus feature endearing family photos, covering three generations, and sweet images from “back home”.
Santa Lucia was in Kingston for many years before moving to Swinger Hill (where it still operates). And then the opportunity presented itself to re-open in Kingston, on the corner of Tench and Giles Streets. I’ve been several times and recently discovered that the Kingston location has live music the first Saturday of the month. A nice touch… but I have to say that my experiences at the “new Kingston” have been hit and miss, unlike my many experiences in days gone by at the “old Kingston”.
Still, I can make several recommendations, including the delicate carpaccio di salmon, thinly sliced, melt-in-your-mouth salmon marinated with garlic, salty capers, tangy lemon and quality olive oil. It’s a sensational dish ($14.50 for small, $21.50 large).
Also from the antipasto section is prawns, garlic and a kick of chilli cooked in olive oil ($17.50).
And for mains, I can vouch for the “Spatchcock Alla Diavola” ($29.50), marinated and grilled in a classic combination of truly Italian flavours – garlic, wine, lemon and chilli sauce.
The dishes at Santa Lucia are generous, indeed. You won’t leave hungry, although I couldn’t finish my pasta on my first visit. Sadly, it was overcooked and the peas didn’t look or taste fresh. On this recent visit, my slow-cooked meat still needed more time in the oven and the fat should have been better trimmed. The flavours were fine, but I couldn’t finish this dish, either. And the friend who sat beside me had a tortellini from the specials board, with pancetta. At first she was delighted with the flavours, but it all became too salty about half way through.
What I can say is that Santa Lucia manages customer concerns exceptionally well. There is no shying away from a potential problem (I was not charged for my meal). And I admire the restaurant for that. Too often I’ve been in establishments where the staff just say: “Thanks for your feedback” and then walk away with no resolution.
The wine list at Santa Lucia is decent enough and features an imported Italian range. Two options fall under “champagne” – Jacobs Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir and the Italian Riccadonna Asti. And although I rarely indulge, I drool at the thought of one day trying my favourite Italian dessert of all time – tiramisu.
Santa Lucia, corner of Tench and Giles Street, Kingston. Call 6295 1813.