Thursday, August 29, 2013

Alexandria's own Café Sopra and Fratelli Fresh

Despair not, carb-hungry fans of the now-closed Café Sopra in Danks Street, Waterloo. Neighbouring suburb, Alexandria now has its own Café Sopra, complete with Fratelli Fresh providore, setting up home in what was previously a pub.

Café Sopra and Fratelli Fresh, Mitchell Road, Alexandria
Gone are the pokies and in place, the Fratelli Fresh cool room housing vacuum-sealed packs of salumi and wedges of cheese.

Shelves of pasta in Fratelli Fresh, Mitchell Road, Alexandria
Study the wall of dried pasta or shelves of balsamic vinegar and olive oil as you wait for a table, inevitably at dinnertime on a Thursday night, although it doesn't take too long for our two high seats at the bar.

You can even wander around the produce section with a drink in hand as you wait, although the Fratelli Fresh section closes for purchases at 7pm.

Affettati misti at Café Sopra, Mitchell Road, Alexandria
The old pub feel is barely noticeable, except for the remaining U-shaped bar with beer taps, looking through to the well-staffed kitchen. Italian accents are aplenty with T-shirted waitstaff running the room with efficiency and intention. There's no signature Café Sopra blackboard menu here, but printed paper menus.

We started with affettati misti; a mixed plate of cured meats and cheese. I didn't quite catch it all but I think there was prosciutto, ham, bresaola, coppa, chilli salami and smoked mozzarella cheese.

Affettati misti
There were a few particularly salty items – the ham, for one – with the highlights being the chilli salami with quite the kick, smooth and subtle bresaola, and smoky flavoured, semi-soft mozzarella – all shaved paper thin.

Aperol Spritz
Aside from a few cocktails and classic aperitifs like an Aperol Spritz, the beauty of Café Sopras all over the city is their fantastic, Italian-leaning wine list where the house red and white wines start at $3.50 per glass.

That said, I can rarely go past the Montepulciano or for more celebratory occasions, the full range of Pommery by the glass or bottle.

The pizza chef in action
The Alexandria outpost of Café Sopra is like the Bridge Street, CBD one in that there's a pizza menu to supplement the pasta offerings – with fresh dough stretched and thrown ever so professionally before going into the woodfired pizza oven.

Pickled beetroot salad with soft boiled egg, crisp pancetta, rosemary
and gorgonzola dressing
The salads at Café Sopra are as legendary as their pasta dishes and we forego the classic shaved Brussels sprouts salad for the pickled beetroot one, with large chunks of the sweetly earthy root vegetable beneath large mixed leaves awash with a creamy gorgonzola dressing.

Two halved and soft boiled eggs bulked up the salad, while thins of crisp pancetta added highlight flavours and inimitable texture.

Tagliatelle with salsicce, crushed peas, mascarpone and pecorino 
The medium width ribbons of tagliatelle are one of my favourite long pasta types, here done with nubs of quality Italian sausage and a slightly green-tinted sauce of crushed peas and creamy mascarpone.

Topped with grated pecorino cheese, the tagliatelle was slightly underseasoned; however, that was easy enough to rectify and forgive with salt and pepper brought to the table without asking.

Lamb ragu with chilli, rosemary and gnocchetti
I have trouble going past any ragu or the very good, rich bolognese at Café Sopra, and with the last of winter in our midst I had the lamb ragu with gnocchetti - supposedly like little gnocchi but a bit like shell pasta too.

The pasta seemed to play second fiddle in the dish that was so generous with slow-cooked chunks of falling apart lamb, it was pretty much a lamb dish with a sensationally full-flavoured tomato sauce (and no noticeable chilli).

Inside the dining roomCafé  Sopra
I don't remember the pasta dishes being quite so big at Café Sopra and with a maximum price of $22, they might have the locals' weeknight dinner out covered.

There was a moment's consideration of doggy-bagging some of the pasta (they do offer takeaway), but the plates ended up completely clean and us a little stuffed.

Torta Banoffee
But not so much as to skip dessert. I've known about Café Sopra's banoffee pie for some time now and had never tried it until now – and I've been missing out.

The tart features a thick biscuit base that's a flawless balance of crumble and sweetness with a touch of salt. Then it's a thick caramel that is just heaven in a mouthful, beneath perfectly piped whipped cream and thin slices of fresh banana, all topped with chocolate shavings. A more perfect tart, there could not be.

Shelves of sauce
It's got your groceries covered; it's got drinks and snacks covered; it's got dinner covered; it's got that banoffee tart. Alexandria's own Café Sopra is as good a local as you could have – welcome to the neighbourhood.

Café Sopra at Fratelli Fresh on Urbanspoon


Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

I think it was only about time Cafe sopra/fratelli fresh opened up in Alexandria. It fits so perfectly there!

Chris @ MAB vs Food said...

Great to see Fratelli Fresh in Alexandria. Love their pasta dishes. And that torta banoffee looks amazing. Must try that next time.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

There are so many now! Not that I'm complaining! :P I love the bannoffee pie :)

chocolatesuze said...

ahhh that banoffee pie is calling to me!

gaby @ lateraleating said...

That charcuterie plate looks amazing! I wonder why it has such a low ranking in Urbanspoon.

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Nice shot of the pizza toss but gah, I can't tear my eyes away from the banoffee torte. Creamalicious!

Tina said...

Hi Tina - Well I think it's because they had to relocate from Waterloo, where it made Danks Street what it is.

Hi Chris - Definitely get the banoffee, it's completely amazing. I also love all their pasta dishes - they do the naughty creamy ones especially well.

Hi Lorraine - One for wherever you need one! I must say, they're all very well located.

Hi suze - Oh yeah (it says lovely things as you ea it too!)

Hi gaby - Seems to be a fair few complaints, ranging from food to service. Perhaps it's the new-ness that needs some settling time, though we had no issues at all.

Hi Helen - 'Creamalicious' sounds almost naughty!

Mr C @ The Food Diary said...

I've yet to try anything related to fratelli, looks like this one is quite easy to get to on my lunch breaks so I might give it a go :D


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