Friday, 10 August 2012

Don Camillo

Down the Sandy Bay Rd strip of shops, among banks and dry cleaners you will find one of Hobart's oldest restaurants - Don Camillo. 

The restaurant is cosy and is decorated evolving selection of artworks by Tasmanian artists. AJ and I have been here 3 or 4 times now and have been generally impressed by their menu of traditional italian specialities. 

On past visits - we've had; the 'Filetto' a tender cut of eye fillet wrapped in pancetta served on a cannelloni bean mash, the 'Pollo Involtini' a filled chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto with gnocchi. These are arguably some of their 'signature' dishes - I think during our meal I spotted at least 20 plates of the 'Filetto' from the kitchen. 

But tonight we thought we would try something that we hadn't had before.

So to start out the night we ordered some antipasto as an entree. This was a good selection of salami, stuffed bell peppers, cheeses, olives, etc. - but rather pedestrian in flavours. I think it is difficult to judge a restaurant on how they put together antipasto - for the mere fact it is other peoples produce that is featured. Everything was fresh but it just wasn't impressive as a restaurant entree. 

Now I must make mention of the long delay between courses. This was rather atypical of the restaurant - but it was a very busy night based on past visits. The owner was very apologetic and even offered us a free round of drinks which we thought was a kind gesture. 

For mains we tried a tried and true Italian favourite, but something AJ and I hadn't had in years - Spaghetti and Meatballs, and the Veal Cottoletta. 

The spaghetti was fresh, the meatballs were flavoursome, but unfortunately the sauce was lacking rich tomato flavour. I also took issue with the pasta to protein ratio - being probably 10:1. It was an enjoyable dish but was let down by the absence of a full bodied and well seasoned sauce to tie it together. 

AJ had the Veal and it was excellent. Tender, with a golden crumb that was delicate and crisp. The herbed tomato sauce and melted boccocini was a great addition. Unfortunately, the salad was let down by a odd-tasting dressing. 

We weren't unimpressed with the main courses but had come with greater expectations based on past visits.

Now, on to dessert. The tiramisu was a delight that made up for the mains. It was rich with mascarpone and espresso but had a light and pillowy sponge with a quenelle of hazelnut cream. The swirl pictured on the plate was an espresso reduction with Frangelico for a bit of decadence. 

 We also tried the Fig & Bread and Butter pudding which was served in a gooey butterscotch reduction, a scoop of Valhalla ice cream. It was moist, sweet and an excellent example of why simple desserts are often best. 

The combination of flavours sometimes reminded me of a sticky-date pudding but the mixture of figs throughout provided some textural and balance to the palate that could otherwise be overwhelmed by the sweetness. 

While there was some disappointment, our enjoyment peaked with the last trio of dishes. On our next visit there will likely be a return to the old favourites for me.

Don Camillo Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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