Dining / New Santa stays true to its wholesome history

“Salotto remains true to its original idea of providing wholesome, inexpensive, yummy Italian food, the kind ‘nonna’ would dish up with love,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON

Homemade ravioli filled with roasted pumpkin and ricotta… large pieces of ravioli served in a buttery cream sauce infused with sage. Photo by Wendy Johnson

WHEN I first came to Canberra more than 20 years ago, one of the first restaurants I was introduced to in Kingston was Santa Lucia, owned by the Catanzariti family, who opened their small and inviting establishment in 1975.

Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson.

I was sad when Santa Lucia left the area and delighted when – many moons later – they returned once more, opening Salotto on Kennedy Street.

Salotto by Santa Lucia remains a family-owned restaurant, which has been passed down three generations. Today it’s run by Pasquale Catanzariti and remains true to its original idea of providing wholesome, inexpensive, yummy Italian food, the kind “nonna” would dish up with love.

Salotto is divided into three sections – dining, bar and outdoors. I’ve dined there many times and on the most recent occasion with a small group. We ordered several dishes to share.

We loved the Carpaccio Di Manzo, raw beef sliced ever-so-thinly and dressed with a simple, yet effective, extra virgin olive oil and lemon dressing ($19.50). The roquette salad, topped with a generous serve of shaved parmesan, adds a fresh element.

Next up was a delish serve of prawns with garlic and chilli, sizzling away in olive oil in a cast-iron pan sitting on a wooden board ($19). It’s a decadent dish, but worth indulging in. I mean, who doesn’t love sizzling prawns?

We adored the homemade ravioli filled with roasted pumpkin and ricotta. Don’t expect small squares. These are large pieces of ravioli served in a buttery cream sauce infused with sage ($16.50). It’s light, flavoursome and not too creamy.

I’ve indulged in many Salotto pizzas ($19 to $24). A fave is the prawn pizza with garlic and chilli. Pastas include eight options ($22 to $26.50).

The Caprese salad… ripe tomatoes, basil and buffalo mozzarella. Photo by Wendy Johnson

Salads include a warm Verdura – greens and cannellini beans slow cooked in extra virgin olive oil and garlic (you can opt for chilli as well). It’s a delight ($9). I’ve often ordered the roquette salad but have asked Salotto to cut back or remove the red onion ($14), preferring simplicity and no conflict of flavours. On this occasion we enjoyed the Caprese, with ripe tomatoes, basil and buffalo mozzarella, dressed elegantly, including with balsamic vinegar ($14.50).

Salotto’s interior décor is warm and rich, with an exposed red-brick wall running down the dining area and a wall of colourful posters. Tables, with red-checkered tablecloths, are easily configured for large parties. The alfresco area enjoys plenty of sun. It’s a mix of smaller, individual tables and larger, communal tables with fixed-bench seating (challenging at times for those in skirts or dresses).

Staff are friendly and accommodating. Salotto works hard at offering a relaxed, non-pretentious experience.

Salotto, 25 Kennedy Street, Kingston, call 6295 1813. Open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday.

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