To preface this article, I must confess that I am currently knee-deep in a The Sopranos love affair. Subsequently, my obsession with anything Italian is at an all-time high; so what better time to indulge in an Italian feast than now?
Located in the unassuming end of The Parade Norwood, Martini Ristorante has been a mainstay Italian eatery for the past 12 years, and is headed up by chef and owner Larry Piscioneri - a commanding force in hospitality for the past 33 years - and prominent front of house favourite Karen Pattinson. Their hospitality and business ethos allows for a warm and welcoming atmosphere, where diners feel as if they’re at Larry’s home rather than business.
After a six-month long renovation, the shopfront – complete with stunning custom-made windows - décor and menu have all had a makeover. And boy, was it worth the wait.
Reopening their doors in September of this year, Martini have reestablished themselves as the place in Adelaide for homely, mouth-watering Southern Italian eats.
I am still in a food coma.
It’s the middle of the week, and this upscale establishment is booked out, speaking volumes for Martini’s quality of service and food. Large tables of diners greet Karen, Larry and the staff, as all are treated as family – the familiarity obviously evident. Perhaps it is this regular customer base that accounts for the popularity of menu option “Let Larry Feed You!”, where Larry is entrusted to elect your meal choice (or, more accurately, meal choices).
Starting with good ol’ Antipasti, expect thin slices of prosciutto heaven, topped with vincotto, and accompanied by arugula and grana.
If that’s not your cup of tea (and quite frankly, I’m unsure why it wouldn’t be), alternate choices include olives, pancetta, pickled eggplant, to name but a few.
Moving onto Pasta. Larry believes that the key to a good quality meal stems from good quality, local ingredients that are treated with respect, and allowed to shine. This could not be more apparent than in his Granchio: Fettucine with Blue Swimmer Crab Meat, Roma Tomatoes, Chilli and Garlic. The pasta is fresh, flavourful, and the crab, unlike the multitude of seafood pasta dishes that are available elsewhere, can actually be tasted.
For the vegetarians among you, or simply, if you appreciate a good gnocchi, then you can’t go past the Gorgonzola: Housemade Gnocchi with, unsurprisingly, Gorgonzola, Arugula Pesto and Pumpkin.
No further words required.
Martini’s extensive menu, however, lends me toward recommending you go down the Italian Tapas path. I literally read the tapas section and just went ‘yep’. You’ll want one of everything – and because tapas is defined as “small, savoury dishes”, I firmly believe that you can in fact, have one of everything. Well I tried.
You can choose the Baccala – Salt Cod Croquettes that have such a pleasingly crunchy exterior, and creamy, decadent filling, that it is sure to please even those not keen on seafood.
Also on the menu are the Polpette – Meatballs in a Tomato Sugo that tastes like nonna has been slaving away the whole week to make.
The classic Caprese and Arancini also feature, alongside Quail, Salmon and Polenta.
Now, because dessert doesn’t go to the stomach, it goes straight to the heart, you are free (and strongly encouraged) to round off your night with the Bombaloni – Italian Banana Donuts, with a Dutch Chocolate filling and Banana Anglaise. And because it has banana in it, surely it counts as your one serve of fruit for the day right?)
Martini Ristorante can be found at 59A The Parade, Norwood and is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday.
Cheers to that, and buon appetito!