Wonky service delivers ‘pizza perfezione’

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Siciliana pizza… ultra-thin crust, whole anchovies, salty capers, olives and gorgeous oregano. Dish of the day! Photo: Wendy Johnson.

“Antica Ricetta staff are pleasant, but the service was wonky at best. We waited more than 20 minutes for our bottle of wine. It took several reminders before it finally arrived, after our entrees.”

ITALIAN cuisine is so comforting, especially on a windy winter’s day, so we booked Antica Ricetta in Palmerston Lane, Manuka. The atmosphere is very Italian, including the music and red, green and white colour scheme. 

The menu is extensive, reasonably priced and includes all the Italian suspects. 

Arancini Siciliani… crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

We shared a couple of dishes, including the arancini Siciliani ($7 a piece) which was crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. The ragu bolognese was rich and cheese oozed from the centre of the two arancini balls.

The dish of the day by far was the Siciliana pizza with ultra-thin crust and well thought-through toppings – whole anchovies, salty capers, olives and gorgeous oregano ($20). Perfezione.

Parpadelle Calabrese with chilli… deep and intense flavours but some pasta had clumped together. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

My pappardelle Calabrese with chilli ($18 or $21) offered up deep and intense flavours that made a strong statement. While the passata sauce is memorable, my happiness ended there. Some of my pasta had clumped together (most unpleasant and a surprising technical flaw) and I struggled to find much evidence of Italian sausage.

Pappardelle ai gamberi… plump and garlicky prawns and a nice chilli kick. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

A dish that scored more points was the pappardelle ai gamberi. The prawns were plump and garlicky ($21 or $24). This dish had a nice chilli kick and the pasta, tossed in a seafood bisque, wasn’t overcooked. 

Tortelloni porcini… pretty on the plate, stuffed with mushroom, gorgonzola cheese and potato. Photo: Wendy Johnson.

One of our party ordered the tortelloni porcini as a main ($29). It too was pretty on the plate, with the three large parcels of pasta stuffed with mushroom, gorgonzola cheese and potato. It was served with a butter reduction and while not the restaurant’s fault, we were dining in the cold so it didn’t take long for the butter reduction to harden. We agreed a burnt butter sauce might have been wiser, to cut through the richness. All up, this dish was good but not great. Our friend, having road-tested our choices, openly proclaimed she had “food envy”.

The rocket and beetroot salad was OK. Toasting the walnuts and including in-house roasted beets would have lifted the flavour profile.

Antica Ricetta staff are pleasant, but the service was wonky at best (even though three staff tended to us throughout our lunch). We waited more than 20 minutes for our bottle of wine. It took several reminders before it finally arrived, after our entrees. 

We had to ask for water. We had to ask more than once for cutlery, including a spoon to dish up the gorgeous arancini sauce. We had to ask for utensils and plates so we could share the salad. After several requests to turn the outdoor heaters on we finally lucked in. Patience is certainly the name of the game at Antica Ricetta.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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