It’s been three years since I last had the pleasure of dining in The Strand Arcade at La Rosa. It’s a slick and sophisticated spot, even if it does play second fiddle to its better-known sibling, Pendolino, at the other end of the ornate, Victorian arcade.
Separated from the restaurant by a dark screen, the bar is a cosy and intimate place to enjoy wine or a well-crafted cocktail.
The Speyside Sour ($23.80) presents Glenfiddich 12-year old single malt under a frothy head of lemon, sugar, Angostura bitters and a twist of lemon rind that’s been expertly cleaned of all pith. The Cocold Old Fashioned ($19.70) tarts up the classic drink with chocolate bitters, topping it with fine flakes of chocolate and another textbook twist, this time, orange.
While there is a bar menu, we hold out for dinner, so are hungry by the time we’re moved to our assigned table in the long, red-roofed room. Fast moving, black-clad staff quickly get us started on a Laissez Faire ‘Field Blend’ ($82.60) of pinot grigio, gewürztraminer and pinot blanc from Western Australia’s Great Southern. We fret a little on the Pane Basket ($5.95), which takes a bit longer to arrive.
The basket's warm pizza crusts are however enjoyable against the Vignarola Salad ($17.80). For a salad, it has a very inviting list of ingredients – zucchini flowers, almonds, onion, quail eggs, fennel, artichoke, and organic Gorgonzola – but the naughtier bits are in moderation, so it’s still a healthy dish. Truth be told, I did pine for more organic Gorgonzola, and I don’t think I saw any zucchini flowers (though they are out of season).
The cool night intrigued me into ordering the fish pie – Tiella Di Gaeta ($38). The petite, open-topped pastry pie arrives under a fish skin sail. It's filled with a creamy mix of Gaeta barramundi, salt fish and turnip, and sits on a green circlet of turnip top greens (cime di rapa). Both size and saltiness make sides a requirement for this dish.
The Cetriolo E Schiacciate ($12) with cucumber, crushed green olive, parsley, black grain and Parmesan was useful, but dominated by cucumber. I’m so-so on the trendy black grain addition too, preferring the more plain cucumber and green olive salad I ate on my last visit.
Salad is also suitable for a square of Lasagne Al Fondo E Finferli ($39.75). While this lasagne is pricy, the spend is evidenced in the blend of good quality pork and White Rocks veal.
Our Zeppola ($16.50) arrives with a flourish: warm, caramel sauce poured at the table by staff.
Taken with a Piccolo Latte ($4.30), the sugar-dusted traditional potato doughnut topped with vanilla gelato, turns out to be my meal highlight in this space that continues to exude a sophisticated, date-night vibe.
NOTE: See a previous visit to this restaurant back HERE.
The Strand Arcade, Shop 133/193 Pitt Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9223 1674