Dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON reveals her list of Canberra’s top five restaurants for 2017.
I LOVE Italian food, especially when served by an Italian, with a sexy accent.
At Molto Italian, Loui walked us through the lunch specials and happily gave advice on the regular menu. We wanted to keep asking questions so we could keep hearing Loui speak, but we were starving so ordered instead.
Molto is at the Kingston Foreshore and I applaud the place for being one of a very small number of eateries along the water to open on a holiday Monday, during Floriade, a major tourist season for Canberra (duh).
Molto mixes modern and traditional dishes. The wood-fire pizza oven, which hasn’t worked for 10 months, is now fired up, at least that was the report the day we lunched.
The head chef, Giuseppe Pappalardo, is from Sicily (he used to work at Italian & Sons). Many dishes, including pastas, are made by hand and the traditional Neapolitan pizzas are crafted with dough that rises for 48 hours. Ten styles of pizza are on offer, from $20 to $26, with the price of the seafood option based on availability.
We shared the beef carpaccio with truffle oil, Testun Barolo cheese and micro herbs ($19). The beef was sliced super thin and the flavours delightful – no sparing on the oil. My heart goes pitter patter when presented with a quality carpaccio.
The next share plate was the fresh Burrata cheese filled with crustacean oil and served with super ripe cherry tomatoes, salty capers and black olives ($20). The dish is known for its unusual texture – a combo of solid and soft. We weren’t big fans. There wasn’t anything wrong with the dish, it just didn’t tickle our fancy.
Next up, the pasta options caught my eye (ranging from $27 to $32) and I’ll be back one day to try the spaghetti cacio e pepe, served with flair at the table straight out of a pecorino wheel. I found the heartier macaroni with cured pork cheek, a rich and inviting slow-cooked tomato sugo and tasty pecorino romano cheese, divine and comforting at the same time.
The beef cheek (specials’ board) was out of this world. It was amazingly tender and married well with a bright beetroot puree and pureed artichokes. The veal with tangy lemon, also from the specials’ board, was equally tender and inviting.
The desserts are to die for, including Nonna’s famous tiramisu and the squiggly vanilla pannacotta (both $15).
Molto Italian’s interior is sleek and sophisticated, with an open kitchen, high ceilings and timber finishes. The exterior is large and gets sun for part of the day.
Molto Italian, Element Building, Eastlake Parade, Kingston Foreshore. Call 6140 7039. Open seven days for lunch and dinner.