This warm and atmospheric space (the site of the old Three Clicks West) features a red back-lit bar, beige walls framed in dark timber and decorated with old Italian poster advertisements for products like alcohol, and popular light Italian opera on the stereo.
Co-owner Cinzia Spinazzola leads the somewhat shy floor team with confidence, genuine warmth and knowledge; recommending for us a delightful Italian wine – the 2006 Vietti Roero Arneis DOC ($59) – which complimented the food perfectly. It was nice to see a range of seven Italian Whites ($31-$51/bottle) and eight Italian Reds ($39-$96/bottle) on the wine list.
They brought us Italian bread rolls, a grassy serve of Little General Olive Oil and some nice olives to prevent us from starving as we read the menu and tried to decide. I always like a snack while I read a menu - menus make me hungry!
The antipasto dishes felt a shade pricy with respect to what you received for the money (two slices of proscuitto, or two scallops), but taste-wise they were both delightful. The ‘proscuitto di parma’ ($19.50) served with a gorgonzola stuffed baked fig and walnuts was my favourite. According to Cinzia, Moscato di Asti is a great wine match for this dish, but we'd already chosen our wine by that stage.
The Hervey Bay Scallops ‘crudo’ ($19.50) with shaved fennel, mandarin and saffron dressing was a close runner up in the antipasti.
It was no contest in the pasta course - the Veal Tortellini ($19/$26) with chestnut mushrooms, peas and parmesan cream sauce was perfectly al dente and won hands down. By the way, this is a entree sized serve, not a main course.
The other contender was a small serve of Potato Gnocchi ‘sorrrentina’ ($19/$26) which lost because it was disappointingly overcooked. While the gnocchi fell apart to a mash like substance when you tried to pick it up on your fork, the tomato sauce it was served with was superb.
There was a pleasant rustic edge to the secondi of Roast Suckling Pig ($30) on a bed of cavolo nero and scattered with grappa soaked sour cherries. I liked it, but was glad for the accompanying salad.
For a salad we chose the Rocket, Radicchio and Parmesan Salad ($8.50) which was nice, but not quite as springy as the salad we had recently at Bei Amici.
I finished with a dessert of Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake with Braised Figs ($15) which was both unusual and nicely presented - not quite my cup of tea, and the ice-cream was fairly crap selection, but it might appeal to some.
There's nothing wrong with this restaurant - and the space in particular really suits an Italian restaurant, and makes it an atmospheric visit - but it didn't quite win me over. Having recently dined at another Italian restaurant, Bei Amici made me draw comparisons, and I preferred the cuisine at Bei Amici.
Da Gianni Trattoria
127 Booth Street, Annandale
Ph: (02) 9660 6652