Dining: Small place, big on quality

“It was so good that my friend returned the next day (without me) to order her very own sausage penne, loving every single bite,” writes WENDY JOHNSON

FOOD envy. It happens to the best of us.

Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson

You’re at a restaurant and order what you’re convinced is the most delish dish on the menu only to discover, when your dear friend lets you sample theirs, that they’ve got more inspiring food.

This happened recently to a friend of mine at Da Rosario on London Circuit, the city’s newest Italian place, when she sampled my sausage penne. It was so good that my friend returned the next day (without me) to order her very own sausage penne, loving every single bite.

Da Rosario is modelled after the little pizzerias in Italy where you can enjoy a coffee or wine while grabbing your weekly fix of salami and bread. So it’s tiny by design.

Quality of food is high on the menu at Da Rosario, an Italian grocer-type operation. It’s so small you can’t dine inside and Da Rosario uses the kitchen of its big brother next door, Mezzalira, to prepare the food. The main man at the helm is Vince, one of the Trimboli brothers.

My sausage penne, from the “pasta e zuppa” part of the menu, smashed it ($17). It came with crumbled bits of Calabrese sausage, cavolo nero (legendary Tuscan cabbage), Cinzano bianco vermouth and shaved pecorino. The dish was the right size (some establishments prefer quantity over quality with pasta) and gorgeous.

Although my friend was suffering from food envy this didn’t mean she didn’t adore her panini ($10), made with slow-roasted, deboned and rolled Berkshire pork and stuffed with rosemary and thyme, grilled eggplant and baby cos. It was served on a wooden board and the perfect size for those who want something tasty at lunch that isn’t too large or heavy.

The wood-fired pizzas are no doubt fab and, of course, you can enjoy antipasti.

The menu also offers rotating specials. Breakfasts are simple and include small passionfruit tarts. Savoury breakfast options roll out soon and don’t forget you can take away.

At Da Rosario it’s fun to sit on stools on the sidewalk pavement in an oh-so-cosmopolitan kind of way.

The service was friendly, efficient and the waiters knowledgeable on product (it drives me bonkers when I ask about a dish and am greeted by a waiter shrugging their shoulders because they haven’t a clue).

Our waiter suggested we try the tiramisu, which comes in a small glass ($10) and I really wanted to but couldn’t fit it in. Next time. And there will be a next time.

 Da Rosario Pizzicheria, Melbourne Building, 59 London Circuit, Civic.


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