Monday, May 25, 2009

Melbourne - Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons

Back to Melbourne, yeah! Back on a Sunday night, oh no!! Not having lived in a western country for a while, I forget that Sunday is a rest day and dining out is a limited adventure. Thank goodness for the Crown Casino, there is a wide range of cuisines available and while I generalise that most of these establishments don't usually surprise (pleasantly at least) nor have the best value, we were quite pleased with what we got at Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons.

Because you can't look into the restaurant from the outside, there is that slight feeling of walking into a mafia meeting as you pull the doors open but step in, and it's a jazzy, noisy Italian kitchen and bar at work. Great for a relaxed and casual dinner.

The placemat menu was impressive. A lot of interesting dishes, some traditional, some with a modern twist but the overarching denominator was the fresh produce, a lot of which are made in-house.

We started with the Ossocollo - made from the neck fillet of larger Berkshire pigs where there is natural heavy marbling. Rolled, tied and hung for 3 to 4 months to age, it had a nice sweetness to finish as you savour each thinly sliced piece. The marbling was not at all greasy but lent a smoothness to the cuts. And in this decade, as we become even more conscious about the effects of the environs on our food, etc., the meats here are both gluten and phosphate free.

The "Punterella" wild Italian chicory salad, exclusively grown by the group, and served with salted anchovy, Asiago cheese, shallot dressing and 3 vinegars was nice and fresh. The leaves aren't as bittersweet as their Italian counterparts, but if you like your leaves a little more peppery, you would like this more. The various parts to the dressing were well balanced to provide harmony to the palate.

Our first pasta dish continued along the own produce theme. The Mezzi Rigatoni, made with their very own pork sausages, tossed with sage, tomato, garlic and chilli was very robust. The sausages, broken down into little pieces for saute-ing, were very tasty and provided a fantastic base. Brings new meaning to Ragu.

Our other choice of Spaghettini with sea urchin was not available so we were recommended the Lumarche, which was a broccoli based pesto laced with anchovies, garlic and a tiny amount of chilli. While it wasn't spectacular, it was a nice contrast to the rigatoni, and provided good balance. And as pestos go, this wasn't too bad.

The calamari fritti with zuchinni and mint was an interesting twist to the usual seafood only dish. The tempura-ed zuchinni and mint added crunch and freshness respectively. Of course, not detracting from the very well and just-cooked calamari. A little much on its own, but perfect to share.
To finish, the baked chocolate pot with chocolate pearls, served chilled, was decadent goodness. With Melbourne's obsession with chocolate, this certainly did not disappoint. Very smooth, rich and not at all cloying. Definitely ends the meal on a high, accompanied by a good Flat White.

Thus saved our Sunday night in an otherwise ghost town.

Crown Casino
Ground level
8 Whiteman Street
VIC 3006
Tel: +61-3-9694 7400

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