Thursday, June 19, 2014

goCatch a progressive dinner at A Tavola

Posted by Jan 

Dinner at two fine Italian establishments in one night - this was the proposition for a progressive dinner at the new Bondi Beach outpost of A Tavola as well as the original Darlinghurst restaurant.

I've always regarded A Tavola as a great Italian experience and its new Bondi Beach restaurant is of a similar ilk, with more of a seafood focus as appropriate for its beachside location.

Dining room at A Tavola, Hall Street, Bondi Beach 
The Bondi Beach dining room is a large open space with a bar to one side and long communal tables. The room hints of the original feel of the Darlinghurst dining room incorporated with the chic casualness of a beachside neighbourhood restaurant.

The plan was to stay in Bondi Beach for drinks and nibbles, like the Italian tradition of aperitivo, before goCatch-ing to the Darlinghurst restaurant for mains and dessert.

Aperol Spritz
We started with the classic Aperol spritz, which reminded me of walking along the streets of Italy in the evening when the bars start prepping for the after work aperitivo crowds.

Probably Italy's favourite cocktail, the spritz is a refreshing citrusy, slightly bitter drink, with a relatively low alcohol content from a combination of Aperol, prosecco and soda water, plus a classic olive garnish.

Aperitivo is usually accompanied by small snacks and I was delighted to see that some of the Italian classics were served. I love fried food especially when it is high in proteins like meat and cheese.

The golden-hued, crunchy-surfaced arancini balls were filled with a mix of olives, minced pork and veal, and pecorino cheese before being crumbed and fried to become some of the tastiest, meatiest arancini ever.

Calamari fritti
It is only fitting that a restaurant located near a world famous beach does seafood well. The fried calamari served at A Tavola was better than some I found at many of the snack bars in Italy; crunchy, salty and divine with just a squeeze of lemon.

Anchovies, Tomato
The final snack that we had before moving to Darlinghurst was the most interesting and could be called fish and chips - A Tavola style.

I really like anchovies and I think they are such an under-rated fish. The anchovies served that evening packed a lot of flavour and were complemented well by the fresh tomato and fried polenta base.

The goCatch app
The plan was to use taxi booking app goCatch to travel from A Tavola's Bondi Beach restaurant to the Darlinghurst one.

I have to confess to being a very regular user of the goCatch app. I love how you can just book a taxi from where you are and be able to track the taxi that accepted the booking. It was to my great delight that I could show some of my fellow diners how easy it is nowadays to find a taxi, literally, a few taps away.

Front dining room, A Tavola, Victoria Street, Darlinghurst
When we arrived at A Tavola Darlinghurst, I stopped to admire the huge marble table in the front dining room where the pasta is made fresh every day. The envious home cook in me even started plotting "The Great Marble Table Heist" for a couple of fanciful minutes.

Maltagliati con borlotti e seppie
On our second leg of dinner chef and owner Eugenio Maiale served up a dish of maltagliati diamond shaped pasta with borlotti beans, cuttlefish, white wine and cavolo nero.

A lighter pasta dish made with simple ingredients, it was a great alternative to some of the ever-popular, heavier meat and cheese based pasta dishes.

Triangoli con ripieno di zucca
I prefer pasta dishes that don't require a lot of sauce, so the house made triangoli triangle-shaped ravioli with pumpkin, mustard fruit, burnt butter sauce and sage was ideal; a great example of traditional flavours that always work well together.

The addition of amaretti crumbs brought a touch of sweetness and crunch to the dish along with the fragrantly crisp sage leaves.

Pappardelle con ragu di manzo
It was not my first time eating the pappardelle with ragu at A Tavola and I'm pretty sure it's not going to be my last. This perennial favourite is exactly why I am rather picky about ragu when I dine out.

A good ragu is slowly cooked with a flavoursome, dark sauce. The beef was rich, tender and falling apart with a hint of sweetness in the background. We liked it so much another serving was required.

Cremino al cioccolato
For dessert, we had A Tavola's signature cremino al cioccolato which might as well be called "heaven in a cup". I've had it twice now and invariably, the entire table swoons after a single taste.

Whoever came up with the idea of combining chocolate with hazelnut, salted caramel gelato, torched Italian meringue and amaretti biscuits deserves a medal.

Dinner at two fabulous Italian eateries and the easiest of taxi rides in between. From the beach to the inner city, A Tavola has got it covered with simple Italian cuisine of the highest quality and freshest pasta - and there's no catches to it.

Food, Booze & Shoes attended the A Tavola progressive dinner as a guest, with thanks to Wasamedia.

A Tavola on Urbanspoon

A Tavola on Urbanspoon

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