A cool Mother’s Day took us to Assaggio this year. After hearing many favourable stories and recommendations, we decided to break away from our traditionally home cooked meal and try a Mother’s day where we could all relax and be looked after. We were not to be disappointed on this occasion having a meal that was friendly, attentive and of good portion (aren’t most Italian places?) and carried out with a high degree of technical competence in the kitchen. This meal was described as a Mother’s Day fixed price set menu but with 5 starters, 12 mains and 6 desserts on show, we hardly felt constrained for choice with good main offerings for both pasta/risotto lovers and those who prefer something from the grill or oven.
Olive Ascolane con Salsa AgroDolce: Warm Green Camerano Olives filled with Vegetables, Chicken and Pork
Fiori di Zucca con Spuma di Spinaci, Gorgonzola e Pinoli: Zucchini Blossoms filled with Baby Spinach, Gorgonzola and Pine Nut Ricotta Mouse
Calamari alla Griglia con Ruccola: Char Grilled Squid with Roquette Salad and Warm Lemon and Mint Dressing
Gamberi con Salsa di Pompelmo e Semi di Melagrana: Grilled Gulf Prawns wrapped in Speck served with Sorana Bean Salad, Pink Grapefruit and Pomegranate-Seet Dressing
Arancini di Pollo e Zafferano: Little ‘Oranges’ of Saffron Flavoured Carnaroli Risotto Dumplings filled with Roasted Chicken, Smoked Provolone and Tomato Essence
Each starter was available on its own or as part of a tasting platter. We obviously went for the latter in order to try a bit of everything and were not disappointed. The olives were astringent but rich as a result of the soft and slightly rich filling. The same was for the zucchini flowers which were expertly cooked and filled with a delicate but confidently flavoured filling. The squid was possibly the most tender squid I have eaten, expertly grilled with and served with a mayonnaise based sauce and a zesty rocquette salad. The prawns were lovely wrapped in the salty and porky speck whose fat also added a nice mouthfeel which also tied in nicely with the bean salad accompaniment. Finally the arancini were exceptionally flavoured and decadently stuffed with the provolone cheese and served with an exquisitely flavoured tomato sauce which made this particular starter the winner for me.
Palate ‘cleanser’: Lemon Sorbet
About as perfect as you could ask. Light, acidic and fluffy, presumably due to the use of egg white it made a nice transition to our main meals. Note the interesting bowl and spoon combination.
Anatra Arrosto con Salsa di Frangelico: Balsamic Roasted Duck Breast with Soft Polenta and Frangelico Glaze
A lovely dish where the fattiness of the duck was countered by the acidity of the Balsamic and Frangelico providing body to provide a fully balanced dish. The polenta was soft and unctuous.
Bisteconne di Maiale con Broccolini: 300gm Pork Rib Eye with Pear Mustard Fruit, Broccolini, Tossed in Roasted Garlic, Mandarin and Chilli
This was no ordinary pork chop and my father who ordered it, described it as the best piece of pork he had eaten in years. This statement should not be taken lightly as it comes from an individual for whom pork is sacred amongst all meats (Hungarian background). Also, as a result of working in the restaurant and meat industries for longer than I have been alive, he truly knows his stuff when it comes to meat and his judgment is highly considered on such matters. Upon trying it, I had to agree, it was supremely tender and did not suffer the dryness one might typically attribute to such dishes. The flavour combination was sublime too with an intensely flavoured jus that extended the flavour and quality of the meat. The broccolini was perfectly cooked.
Linguine alla Pescatora: Thin Flat Pasta, ‘Little Tongues’ of South Australian Shellfish, Whitefish, Garlic, Chilli and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Nicely cooked and well presented, this dish was a hit with my dining companion with both the pasta and seafood being well cooked and not as is so often the case overdone. The garlic and chilli provided character whilst the extra virgin provided body to support the dish.
Garganelli al Ragu di Salsiccia e Lambrusco: Traditionally made Short Tube Pasta with Ragu of Pork, Fennel and Chilli Sausage and Persian Lentils slow cooked in Lambrusco Wine
Gutsy, rich and filling, this dish for me had it all with the sausage providing rich spicy notes which accented the tomato and red wine sauce which with the lentils provided a big flavour to the well cooked pasta. Served with a glass of Barossa shiraz this was the perfect winter warmer.
Vistorta: Rich and Moist Venetian Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake with Warm Chocolate Sauce and Amerena Cherries with a Caramelised Fig and Almond Gelato
This was a truly adult version of a chocolate cake. Not excessively sweet and made with good quality cocoa it had just the right about of bitterness and the hazelnut served to loosen the cake and lift the quality of the dish as a whole. The Amerena cherries were sour and soaked in booze and the gelato provided additional sweetness to the dish.
Budino: Warm Individual Spiced Citrus Pudding with Raisins steeped in Golden Rum and White Chocolate Gelato
This was the pick of the desserts for me. Warm and soft, it was the perfect sweet dish for this slightly cooler day. Accompanied by the White Chocolate Gelato it more than earned the ‘naughty but nice’ dish of the the day title.
Overall, this was a great meal and as a family, we all had a wonderful time. The food was exceptional and the decor and interior funky and cool with a slightly retro feel to it. Whilst the service was attentive and friendly, there was a slight tendency to rush the orders and to clear the tables but it certainly was not a deal breaker. I can most happily recommend Assaggio to anyone in the same way it came highly recommended to me. Whilst not cheap, the question then becomes whether or not there was value and in our collective opinion, it was provided in bundles. We will certainly visit again.
92-94 King William Road
PH: +61 (0)8 8272 4748
FAX: +61 (0)8 83571545