La Favola eats better than it looks; but that’s not to say the space is unattractive. The King Street restaurant, which opened in February 2018, is clean and welcoming - brightly lit in warm, white tones.
White painted bricks, tiles and minimal decorations help the small room - densely packed with pale tables and little wood and metal stools - not seem too poky.
A blonde wood frame and hanging leafy ferns also help create a sense of spaciousness, distracting your eye from the exposed building fixtures, while still keeping height.
At the front of the room, a brick counter is backed by a row of wine bottles and a menu board that explains the steps to designing your own pasta creation. It was this menu format, along with sitting on a stool in a cafeteria-style arrangement, that had me fooled into thinking La Favola was going to be a fast and convenient pasta eatery, something like Newtown’s ever-popular The Italian Bowl.
So when our Carpaccio ($20) lands I’m a bit taken aback. With wafer-thin slices of raw beef dressed with truffle oil, crisp kale leaves, capers, rocket, Parmesan cheese and blobs of truffle mayo. it is round and particularly satisfying if you manage to get everything in your mouth at once.
By the time our second entrée, a special of Calamari, Rocket and Cherry Tomatoes ($25), arrives, it’s becoming clear that everything that comes out of Chef Fabio Stefanelli’s kitchen is as attractively presented as it is simple and flavoursome. The delicately cooked calamari is tender with a big coal-cooked punch. It’s presented in a cast iron skillet with garlic oil that’s still sizzling, adding to the wonderful smellscape emanating from the open kitchen. Scooped onto Sardinian flatbread – pane carasau – with lightly wilted rocket and bright cherry tomatoes, it is fresh and summery.
Spying a typical Italian drink shelf in one corner - Bacardi, Smirnoff, Aperol, Disaronno and Campari - I imagined the list of Italian cocktails that could be made with that selection. I didn’t think of the Caprese Cocktail ($15) based on the tomato and basil salad by the same name, though it’s what I ended up drinking. Think of it as a white Bloody Mary – fresh and summery with a white rum kick – perfect for a blustery hot evening.
My dining companion kept it simple with a 2016 Collefrisio Vignaquadra Pecorino ($15) – floral, lemony, and great with seafood, which worked out well, because our chosen pasta was a house-made Gnocchi Seafood Ragu ($35). Topped with a perfectly cooked Balmain bug presented in the half-shell, the bisque-like sauce was great. While I found the gnocchi itself a little soft for my personal preference, it’s less about overcooking then it is about it being freshly made (two hours earlier) with ninety percent potato and ten percent flour.
We contrast it with a design-your-own pasta selection from the regular menu. Casarecce Tucker Dal Bush ($22) takes the restaurant’s authentic Italian brief, and situates it here in Australia by using lean kangaroo mince and bush spices in a bright, acidic Mutti Pomodoro San Marzano sauce. It’s nice to be eating a sustainable, environmentally friendly meat in a convivial environment, that’s filled up around us with diners of all ages and nationalities, from students to people popping in on their way home from work.
Thanks to AGFG for arranging this visit.
170 King Street, Newtown
Ph: (02) 8021 0002