Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

This has definitely been the longest break I’ve gone without blogging – motivation waninggg – but I’m back ..again ! And hopefully for good this time :)

 I always hear about how there are lots of places to eat in Epping, but I never really see them ..I guess because they’re just too well hidden.

But for my birthday (which was, incidentally, a very long time ago), my darlings <3 took me to BORRELLI’S, an Italian restaurant only 5 minutes walk from the station.


At 6pm the restaurant is rather deserted, but it’s pretty much the calm before the storm – turns out they get a sizeable crowd at 7pm – and so by 7.30pm the entire place is packed.
At first glance, Borrelli’s looks teeny ..until you’re led to a private room in the back, perfect for intimate gatherings.


The lighting was dim and there was Italian music playing in the background – and I’d say the Borrelli’s owner is definitely attentive to detail – I remember he was fiddling with the aircon because he kept coming back to ask if the temperature was warm enough.


Risotto Funghi (vegetarian) – $18, or entree for $14
Trio of pan fried wild mushrooms with garlic, white wine and creamy Arborio rice

It’s nice that the menu pointed out that they use short-grain Arborio rice. From what I’ve heard, most places that make risotto try and use the Chinese long-grain, which doesn’t produce the sauce for risotto very well (Food for thought: did you know that you’re not actually supposed to add any cream/sauce/milk to risotto ‘cos it’s supposed to come from the rice itself!)

What makes a good risotto IMO is the creaminess of the sauce (and the texture of the rice), and this was perfect :) I’m not usually a fan of soggy, saucy risotto, but this rice wasn’t soggy nor was the sauce watery – and the amazing thing was, that the sauce all came from the rice !


Spaghetti Marinara – $23
Al dente spaghetti tossed with a medley of seafood, including fish, prawns, calamari and mussels cooked in a white wine, garlic and chilli tomato sugo

I’m really stretching my memory trying to remember what the food here tasted like. The sauce was a weak tomato, but the spaghetti was really good – it was firm but not overly chewy – sturdy enough to bite, but not hard and crunchy like undercooked spaghetti.


Cannelloni – $18, or entree $13
Home made crepes filled with a mixture of veal, chicken, spinach and herbs. Presented on a bed of rich tomato sugo and topped with creamy bechamel and mozzarella gratin

I love cheese and tomato, and this dish was pretty much cheese and tomato ! I don’t particularly like sugo, just because I find it a little too watery for my liking, even though this tomato sugo was a bit more like soupy tomato puree. The crepes were paper thin and drowning in tomato sugo, but definitely a winner if you like savoury crepes.


Melanzani al forno (Oven baked eggplant) – $22.50, or entree $13.50
A tower of grilled eggplant and zucchini layered with bocconcini mozzarella, fresh tomato, basil pesto and parmesan cheese. Baked in the oven and served on a bed of tomato sugo with a side of kumera crisps

I’m not used to eating such soggy eggplant, ‘cos my mum makes really nice grilled eggplant :)
Then again, I thought the whole dish tasted kind of bland, and the eggplants were all stacked on top of each other, making some kind of soggy eggplant castle on a tomato moat :s


Funghi con l’aceto ragu e Polenta (trio of mushroom with balsamic glaze and baked polenta) vegetarian – $21.50, or entree $13.50
A hearty trio of mushrooms ragout with red onion, garlic and balsamic glaze, presented on a disc of baked polenta (vego)

This polenta was such a disappointment compared to the crisp, crunchy one at Villa Moura ! Maybe because the ones there were polenta cubes, and not soaked in mushroom sauce, whereas Borrelli’s polenta resembled a mushy cake bathed in mushroom. Maybe that’s the way polenta is supposed to be served, but I like it a bit more crunchier. You’d also expect it to taste slightly acidic as well because of the balsamic glaze – but that’s the beauty of Borrelli’s, I guess – bar the sauce, everything else is subtle.


Capesante con radicchio e prosciutto crudo (Scallops with radicchio and prosciutto) – $19.90, or entree $15.90
Pan seared scallops wrapped in prosciutto and served on a bed of radicchio with a sweet lemon and seeded mustard dressing

I usually eat scallops Asian style, so to try Italian-style scallops was a refreshing change. The scallops were fleshy and sweet, with a tang of lemon. I’d definitely recommend trying these – I felt as if I was eating salad but in scallop form instead. Very tasty :)

 The one thing I can say about Borrelli’s is that they looove their tomato. Also, their use of herbs is sparing, so if you don’t like an overpowering taste of basil in your food, this is probably perfect for you. There’s also something about their attention to detail in terms of food and presentation that makes me say it’s genuine Italian cuisine (but what would I know?).

And a muchas gracias to my lovelies for taking me out that night ;)


Borrelli’s (visited 13/06/09)
3 Bridge St
Epping NSW 2121
Ph: (02) 9876 6563


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So there’s this relatively new business complex on George St (near Town Hall station) called Regent Place, which houses a variety of new and hip restaurants and the most confusing floor plan they could fit into this little space. I’ve walked past Mid Town Cafe before and being the shallow person I am, the first thing noticeable about this place is the cute decor (chandeliers, pink walls, lots of glass…) and the general friendly atmosphere of the place.

Kind of hard to take discreet photos; this is behind the front desk/coffee bar.

Tables near the front entrance, they also have tables closer to the back with a more moody atmosphere.

I’ve had coffee from this place before which wasn’t spectacular, but we decided to give their meals a try. Midtown offers a lunch special menu (mainly or all Italian food I think) at $9.90 which has a large selection of mains from meat, fish, pasta to salads.

Lunch menu (one of the pages only), I believed they had a large selection of pastas on other pages.

The menu sounded like a pretty good deal as a $9.90 steak or fish at a nice sit-down restaurant in the city is pretty rare to come across.

Risotto Pollo Ai Fungi – $9.90
Risotto with chicken fillet and mushrooms cooked in a creamy white wine sauce

Despite having a not so attractive name the flavours were quite nice. I guess it’s hard to go wrong with chicken and creamy sauce but it was rich though not overbearing. The chicken was quite dry unfortunately, but the main complaint was that the risotto was undercooked and hard, which kind of ruined the whole dish.

Rump Steak with pepper sauce – $9.90

Presentation seemed to be the highlight of Midtown Cafe as all the dishes looked really nice (which extends from having nice decor, I guess). The steak was nice on the outside and the sauce was wonderful, but I can’t say the same for the meat itself. The meat was quite tough and hard to chew (and it was cooked medium-rare) and I don’t think there was enough sauce to give the meat enough flavour.

Perch Del Giorno – $9.90

This dish got no complaints. It looked really nice which a tasty and colourful salad, and the fish was cooked perfectly and full of flavour.

Overall, Mid Town Cafe and Restaurant is a really cute and cosy place to sit down with friends, but the food is only so-so and kind of hit-and-miss. They do also have a delicious looking display of desserts as well, which I need to go back one day and try.

Shop 10.05. (next to KFC)
Regent Place
501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9269 0262

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In all my years of living in Sydney, I have surprisingly explored little of the city and its surrounding suburbs.  And as restaurants and dining go, I’ve always opted for the usual suspects: the CBD, Chinatown etc., so I was particularly excited today to have lunch in Sydney’s ‘Little Italy’, the suburb of Leichhardt.

Walking down the main street, Norton St, the first thing I notice is the countless Italian restaurants with their tables lining the sidewalk (and also GPs and pharmacies…but that’s another story). It all kind of felt like a big Italian courtyard. Since there were so many restaurants to choose from, we decided on Cafe Gioia, which was right across the road from where my friend lived (lucky!)

The restaurant was originally an old petrol station and some of the structure remains, including the car park. Since it was a nice and sunny day we decided to sit outside. The only complaint was that the seats were right next to where the cars were parked, and whenever a car left we got a nice big swiff of petrol exhaust.

As expected, their menu had an extensive range of all thing Italian, from pizza to focaccia and a really really long pasta menu. The pizzas looked huge and ranged from $20 and onwards, while the focaccias were pretty cheap (around $8-9ish). I really felt like pasta so we settled on that.

Tortellini papalina – $17.80

Personally, for a cheap/poor uni student, the menu was kind of pricey, but it seemed to be the standard in Leichhardt and it was completely worth it.

The tortellini was stuffed with a meat filling. The papalina sauce was rich and flavoursome and tomato-y, and was accompanied with mushrooms and bacon. The friend ordered a seafood marinara sphagetti with a similar sauce but more…seafood-y? in flavour and less rich. It was served with mussels, prawns and a heap of octopus, so pretty good value for seafood!

Spaghetti Marinara – $17.80

Although the servings didn’t look large, they were deceptively filling and I was stuffed by the end of my pasta. However, I just couldn’t resist a good genuine, home-made Italian tiramisu.

Home-made tiramisu – $7.70

The tiramisu had nicely complemented layers of fluffy cream and chewy shortbread, and it wasn’t too rich which I liked. It was served with a chocolate and rum(?) sauce. You can get cream and ice-cream with it for an additional $1, but I was glad that I didn’t because against my stomach’s protestations, I finished the tiramisu and pretty much couldn’t move afterwards.

Overall, it was a satifsfying, hearty Italian meal and I can’t wait to go back to Leichhardt: one restaurant down, many more to go!

Gioia Cafe (visited 8/05/09)
126A Norton St
Leichhardt, NSW 2040
Ph: (02) 9564 6245
Website: http://www.gioiacafe.com

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