Miss Piggy and The Boy dined as guests of La Vucciria.
Back in the 90s, before most of you were out of primary school, I worked with a lady at Optus. We were work friends but never really hung out after work that I recall. After about 2 years of slogging it out at the Big O I decided to up sticks and go traveling. I never saw my work friend again...but of course we're friends on Facebook. Whenever I write a blog post I pop it on Facebook thinking maybe someone who knew me 100 years ago would like to have a read.
And you know what, the lady from Optus reads my blog (Facebook - you are good for something). She mentioned me to Stephanie at La Vucciria -- where she has become a regular -- and an invitation ensued for The Boy and I to venture to Sicily...via Paddington.
La Vucciria is a little Sicilian oasis tucked away on busy Flinders Street - identifiable by its bright red door, basket of goodies parked on the curb and a larger than life menu scrawled on the outside wall. I already love it and we haven't even set foot inside. It feels so charming and rustic and a world away from Paddington.
The interior is quite modern, a leather banquette down one side, sleek bar on the other, interesting lamp shades made from planks of wood, but the food feels authentic and rustic. The menu changes on a regular basis depending on what's in season and what looks good at the markets that week.
After a harrowing drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic down Parramatta Road (seriously, that has got to be the WORST road in the known universe) I really need a drink. A wine menu is handed over with the list of wines tapped into an old Italian travel magazine. I need something stronger however and the cocktail menu gives us both a chuckle - the drinks list has been inserted inside a vintage style Italian "magazine for men" with the rudie bits covered by strategically placed stars. LOLs.
The cocktail list is organised by type of spirit - vodka, rum, whiskey. It feels like a Gin night to me so I settle on a Bramble cocktail - a mix of gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and a Blackberry Liqueur all topped with an ever-so-retro maraschino cherry.
The Boy chooses the entrees starting off with Gratin Scallops ($15.00) - perfectly cooked Scallops topped with a browned, crispy Gratin and a zesty Tomato and Caper garnish. The Crispy Prawns ($13.00) are wonderful and sit in a small pool of beautiful creamy sauce - but they are not the Flash Fried Prawns we were expecting (and had seen on other tables).
Not to worry as chef, cum waiter for the evening, Fabio sees us staring longingly at the other tables with bowls of the Flash Fried Prawns and arranges for a platter of Crispy Calamari, Prawns and Zucchini ($18.00) to magically appear at out table. This is a GREAT dish, the prawns are so crispy we can eat the head, tail and shell as well as the meaty prawn flesh. Sadly my photo doesn't do the dish any justice (the restaurant has some moody, dark lighting happening), but I think my "skills" with Picasa have helped restore the photo...sort of.
The mains are all written in Italian so we need some help deciphering what's what. In fact the staff are all Italian (probably Sicilian really), and speak with dreamy accents - there are also quite a few Italian speaking customers, so this place must be the 'real deal'.
The Boy beats me to my first choice of Swordfish alla Palermitana ($26.00) and it's a stunning dish. The fish is so fresh and light, the flavours lifted by the tomato, basil and caper topping. I have food envy, but I'm pretty happy with my Spaghetti nero Seppia ($24.00) - a spaghetti dotted with cuttlefish and stained black from the Cuttlefish ink. It's a strong flavoured dish, but really great.
By this stage I'm nearly bursting but we need to have dessert...for the blog of course! The Boy chooses Tiramsu ($9.00) which he wolfs down - it's strong with the flavour of espresso, guaranteed to keep you up all night! I couldn't go past the Figs with Lemon Cream ($8.00). Is there anything figs can't do I ask you? The Lemon Cream is sublime, sweet - almost like a Lemon Curd. It was the perfect dessert to end a perfect meal. We'll be back!
La Vucciria is at 160 Flinders Street, Paddington (just before you hit Anzac Parade). Phone them on 8068 5598. I'd suggest making a booking as they were PACKED when we visited on a Saturday night.