Wednesday, 29 August 2007

La Contadina Cafe Restaurant & Bar

I actually didn't have as many posts as I thought. Because a lot of places were our favourites and repeats, therefore I didn't take photos to blog. Oh well, there's still a few fair posts to go. :D

Dad was in the mood for Italian one night, so we scanned through the Entertainment Book for a nice and near and recommended Italian restaurant. Dad picked La Contadina Cafe, Restaurant & Bar out of the selections we gave him.

La Contadina is a cozy little Italian place. I really like the atmosphere of the place. It's casual and homey - with cluttered pictures on the wall, lots of knickknacks and so on. (Food pictures are a little lacking because of light, unsteady hands and really hungry people, sorry!)

Homey and nice - I like the wood panelling.

We ordered an entree to share, and since Dad is a huge fan of tomatoes, the Bruschetta Florentino ($15) it is!

Bruschetta Shot #1.

Bruschetta on my plate! Ready to be gobbled!

It's honestly lovely. The bread was toasty-crispy with no black/burnt bits (AHAHA) and the tomatoes were VERY seasoned nicely with a mix of herbs. It was not overly soggy or crunchy as the case with some bruschettas. There was just enough tasty cheese to go with the bread and everything went together in a nice crunchy mouthful of bread and tomatoes. Thumbs up!

Dad ordered his main, Panzarut Du' Casa ($22) (Main), which was pasta pockets with spinach ricotta and King Island creamy tomato.

Dad's pasta in his pockets.

At first Dad thought it wasn't going to be good because he wasn't a fan of pasta pockets, but he was sold after the first bite. The pasta pockets were perfect - not too doughy (Dad's fear) or thick. The spinach ricotta filling was absolutely yummy, never knew that spinach and ricotta goes so well together! And added with the tomato sauce - which was made with fresh tomatoes - Dad was sure satisfied with his meal!

Mum had Vitello Au Furno ($26.90), essentially oven-baked veal parmigiana.

A mountain of veal!

Mum thought the veal was cooked just right - and there was a LOT of veal, around 5 pieces of meat. She certainly enjoyed the accompanying tomatoes and the sauce was very good - hearty and herby and complemented the meat really well.

Me and my sisters ordered two mains to share, because we weren't too hungry. Me and big Sis couldn't resist the Risotto Du' Mar ($32), because it was risotto sauteed with chili garlic prawns, lobster and Morton bay bugs! YUM!

A shot of two pastas.
OMG look at the lobster bay bug risotto how can anyone resist!?

Wowee! We adored it! It was so good! The lobster and bay bug wasn't from-the-sea fresh, but that didn't stop the risotto from being divine. The seafood overtones were toned down by a mixture of herbs and risotto and the risotto was cooked just right, not mushy and not undercooked. A mouthful of creamy risotto, prawn,lobster and bay bug was like WOW. It was just really good. I reckoned it would be even better if the seafood was uber fresh but that would be nitpicking.

Our other shared dish was Rigatone De' Ladri ($22), which was venison and duck dumpling meatballs in "pomodor ragu sauce" (no idea what that is, not Italian).

Tube pasta with meatballs without cheese

And after a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. I HEART cheese.

Also really really good. The meatballs were so tasty - meaty and tangy and the pasta sauce was fantastic. Pasta was cooked right and the whole dish was prepared very well indeed. There's fresh tomato puree with the sauce that makes everything tasted really fresh and savoury and yummy.

We also ordered some veggies - Saltet Spinach Mediteran ($6.90) to share and didn't expect it to be uber small.

...Seriously, that's it? That was my thought. Really good but also really tiny.

It was also VERY good, I think they used some kind of special salt for it, but kinda not worth the $6.90 price tag considering the portion. :x But it's good.

For dessert, no one can resist the Tiramisu! In fact we ordered two to share.

Pretty tiramisu with chocolate sauce splashes and icing sugar!

Scrumptious. One of the best tiramisu I've tasted in a very long time - creamy, chocolatey and cold and cake-y...yummy!

I think our experience there was really good. The staff was friendly and efficient and the atmosphere cozy. For the record, Sis reckons the food there was as good as authentic Italian cafes in Italy. She should know, cos she's been to Italy. So yeah, it was that good to her, and it was amazing to the rest of us poor schmucks who has never stepped a foot into Europe (except Mum).

Will definitely go back there with the gang! :D Although I think the price is a little steep considering the portions weren't very big. It fed us full enough but for a couple of my guy friends, it might just be too little.

- Mouse


La Contadina Cafe, Restaurant & Bar
168-170 Rathdowne Street
Carlton 3053
Phone: (03) 9347 6173


New Kid on the Blog said...

it looks yummy... i bet it was a good one, right?

Anonymous said...

wa... they looked so wonderful!! i wanna go. esp the lobster + bay bug rissoto and the tiramisu. the way u decribe the restaurant as a whole make it sounds like its a place definitely worth visiting yea. lol. if got chance(got extra vitamin M in my pocket), i will go =D

*btw, the tiramisu looks abit weird? doesn't look like a cake?too soft? no?*


Ginger said...

Oh my, the lobster looked simply amazing. Pity that I dont fancy risotto. You think they could replace that with pasta? =p

crushedguava said...

Ooo, food of the gods (tiramisu).

Truffle said...

Price aside it sounds fabulous. I'd love to try it! Thanks for the review.

tigerfish said...

my fav too - Bruschetta, it is. But I prefer without cheese, that is. And for $15, quite expensive, this is :)
This place uses a lot of long rectangular plates :)

.+ shopaholic +. said...

The food in this place looks really good! Especially the tiramisu.. I think the prices (for an Italian restaurant anyway) seem rather standard.. but then again I don't frequent many Italian places other than.. Sofia's. haha. budget eating.

durianberry said...

Such a tempting meal to look at!

East Meets West Kitchen said...

Nice looking plates of yummy italian food! :)

ilingc said...

The food looks delicious especially your dad's pasta pockets and the risotto. Pray, do tell, how do you manage to remember all the names of the dishes?! Whenever I eat out I try to memorize the names but by the time dessert hits the stomach, I'd already forgotten half of what I ate that night. LOL

Seriously, thanks for the recommendation, now I know where to head to in Carlton for some good Italian food.

Towser said...

Hi, great to read that your experience at La Contadina was a good one. You guys definitely had a better experience than our one and only visit there but perhaps both the restaurant and us were having a bad one that night! We also had the crustacean risotto, looked impressive yes but on our night the lobster was bland and mushy and we couldn't really taste the sea at all :( Keep up the great posts!

Shirley Khor said...

OMG! Look at those mouth-watering dishes :P"

The bruschettas look really yummy! I'm a bread person but they are a bit too costly, dont u think? Bah...Who cares when ur parents are paying. Haha! XD

mouse said...

Hi new kid on the blog, yeap, it was a good one indeed! Really enjoyed ourselves!

Hi SAN, yeah, was really nice and delicious and cozy. BAY BUGS and LOBSTER RULES. Tiramisu is supposed to look like that I think, mostly the Tiramisu we have are like flavoured cakes (Tiramisu cakes).

Hi ginger, yes, the lobster was scrumptious! I don't know whether would they be willing to replace though; hopefully the answer is yes if you ever do go there. :)

Hi crushedguava, yeap, got that bit of info from your blog as well, hehe. Thanks for that!

Hi truffle, it IS a little pricey I admit, but the food's really good in my opinion. Worth a try, but not really a place that can be marked "favourite for repeat visits". :p

Hi tigerfish, I see that you prefer bruschetta without cheese, like my dad! I love cheese so that was all good with me - and yeah, it was quite expensive for bread, I'd say. :(

Hi shopaholic, the tiramisu was gorgeous really. And I think it is a little pricier than some of the places in Lygon but it's better, too, haha. Oooh, I do LOVE Sofia a lot. Haven't been back there in ages!

Hi east meets west kitchen, thanks for dropping by!

Hi ilingc, I actually took photos of the menu. :P When I looked at the menu and saw a huge bunch of complicated names, I knew there was not way I could remember, so I photo-ed them. :D If not I wouldn't be able to remember at all! And you're welcome, I hope you will enjoy it if you ever do go there. :) Thanks for reading!

Hi towser, I'm sorry to hear your experience was bad! :( We definitely did have a good time there and the lobster was flavoured well enough. Like I said it wasn't like fresh FRESH but I really have no complaints, the lobster meat was springy enough. If you ever do give it another go in the future, I hope that experience will be a super one to make up for the first one!

Hi Shirley, I'm a bread person too! Love bread. :D And yeah, I do think they are VERY pricey for bruschetta, but my dad is a huge fan of tomatoes and he was willing to pay. Heh. :D

mouse said...

Hiya durianberry, thanks for dropping by and reading! :) And it was a really good meal to gobble up, too. XD;;