I adore Italy with every ounce of my being.
The relaxed way of life. The Italian hospitality. And of course, if you follow my blog you will know, I dearly covet their food.
I love Italian food for its simplicity, its purity, its generosity, its regionality, its tradition and because it is just so damn delicious.
What I wouldn’t give for a summer in Tuscany, riding my bicycle daily to the piazza for a morning coffee and Pistachio gelato…
So, a few weeks ago when I was invited to the launch of a new Italian restaurant for a long table dinner, I was excited.
But, then I was all like… Hmmmm, but it’s in a big shopping centre. Hmmmm…
Ordinarily restaurants in large shopping complexes lack intimacy. Ordinarily they lack, heart.
And, I held high hopes as I always do when embarking on an edible adventure, but I also wasn’t placing any bets that I’d walk away, totally blown away.
↑ Duck and Porcini Arancini
Cicheti at the new Brickworks complex in Thebarton, is an anomaly.
Yes, it’s attached to an undercover shopping mall, but this is a warm and inviting restaurant, in every single way.
They are a family.
The staff are members of the family.
I felt like I was part of the family.
Nonna Maria even rolls up her sleeves daily to make her incredible fresh gnocchi.
Cicheti has loads of heart, but it also has an old and caring soul.
↑ Vitello Tonnato
The food was extraordinary. It took me right back to Italy.
It was everything I adore about Italian food. Uncomplicated, fresh and generous.
Walking in and being greeted with a sparkling wine, oysters, pizza and a slider, although a thoroughly tempting teaser, didn’t really prepare me for the traditional delicacies that actually lay ahead…
Once we were seated, the first course platters of Antipasto with Sopressa, Olives, Frittata, Prosciutto e Melone (one of my all-time favourites) and marinated fior di latte cheese arrived, and the widespread delight was palpable. We were in for a treat.
The antipasto were followed shortly thereafter by some of the most delicious rice balls in town. Served with a fresh Tomato and Rocket salsa, their delightful Duck, Mushroom and Mozzarella Arancini, made my risotto lovin’ heart skip a beat. I may or may not have eaten more than my allocated share…
↑ Penne Salsiccia
We were then treated to a plate of Vitello Tonnato. I LOVE this dish, and the Cicheti version didn’t disappoint me. Tender, perfectly cooked veal with a tangy tuna mayonnaise and capers, I was trying to be courteous, so I didn’t just run off with the whole plate. But, I wanted to…
Sitting around the table, the atmosphere was social, jovial and loud. Exactly what you’d expect from an Italian family dinner. We all felt right at home.
I was seated next to Michael from the Atlas Wine Group. This South Australian wine distributor has an extensively delicious catalogue of local and imported wines. Atlas works closely with Cicheti to constantly update and evolve the wine list options, so they perfectly compliment the food menu. Obviously, I was bombarding him with questions. My wine knowledge halts somewhere around the ‘Ooh, I like the taste of it’ or ‘Nah, I don’t like the taste of it’ vicinity.
↑ Fettuccini Granchio
I voraciously attacked the Hither & Yon Tempranillo, before setting my sights a little more discreetly on the Vinteloper Pinot Gris, and finishing with a modest nip of Cortese Dolcetto. Although please know dear friends, my discreet sights and modest nip were not by choice, merely just necessity.
Why GOD, WHYYY did I drive to this dinner…
Ummm, that’s right because it was a Wednesday night, and I had to work my Westfield pop-up solo for 12 hours the next day.
*pats self on back for being a responsible borefest*
↑ Bistecca Tagliata
Clearly, we were already getting our fill, and next, out came the pasta course.
Nonna’s Gnocchi with a gorgeous Duck and Porcini ragu
Penne Salsiccia. Italian sausage with garlic, basil, chilli, broccoli and white wine… Oh. Em. GEEEE.
Fettuccini Granchio… Crabs, tomatoes, fresh pasta. All signs point to absolute deliciousness.
Each dish was as tantalizing as the plate sitting next to it. Fresh, vibrant, simply delectable.
The gnocchi that Nonna Maria works so tirelessly on was a standout.
Seated on my other side were the gorgeous ladies from Tempting Palates, and since I was too busy stuffing my face to get a good picture of nonna making gnocchi, I’ve used theirs. Thanks girls xxx
After the pasta course, I was ready to find a quiet booth and enter a food coma. But, then… Straight from the charcoaled amazingness of the Spanish Mibrasa oven came our mains.
Bistecca Tagliata. Scotch fillet with Eggplant relish, Rocket and Parmigiano-Reggiano
*insert sigh of utter satisfaction*
Nonna’s Stuffed Capsicums
*insert second, and much louder sigh of satisfaction*
Perfectly cooked Pork Ribs…
Chargrilled Prawns wrapped in Prosciutto with Saffron Potatoes and Salsa Verde…
Ahhhhh ughhhh ohohohoh squeal groannnnn. Ahem, sorry about that, just had a foodgasm.
I didn’t want the meal to end. I wanted more. Our table was still heaving with food, because in true Italian fashion they had catered for double the numbers. But, regrettably I was full. Sadly, I couldn’t eat another bite of bistecca.
I whispered to Tassi from Tempting Palates about my desire for round two. Waste not want not, you know?
“Do you think I should ask to take some home… For my darling husband Cory?” I asked her
Yes, yes, for Cory…
Note to everyone: When you marry someone, what’s theirs, is actually yours. So clearly, although the leftovers were intended for Cory, he would have no choice but give me my legally bound 50% share of them. WAHAHAHAHAHA *Insert villainous laugh*
But, I couldn’t… Nope, I couldn’t possibly ask…
Tassi shook her head and urged me to stop being a loser.
“Just ask… Or else I’ll ask for you” she said
So, I made the request. And when it was met with excitement from our host Dougal and the owner Remo, Tassi couldn’t contain her I told you so smile.
When the other diners saw my white styrofoam container draw near, they all wanted in on the action too.
Within two minutes the table was totally cleared and Remo was ecstatic.
Evidently, every single one of the 40 odd guests sitting at his table had thoroughly enjoyed their meal.
Anyhoo lovers, I don’t know about you, but after nooky I just want to lay there and eat grapes like Cleopatra.
Clearly Remo got the memo, because he finished off our food-gasmic feasting with a perfectly paired fruit platter.
I was content. I was smiling from ear to ear.
I then enjoyed a delicious flat white, said my goodbyes, and then carried my developing food foetus and my overflowing doggy bag out into the warm, dark night.
Cicheti’s is fantastic, a true Italian experience.
Family, Food and fabulous wine. What more could you ask for in a meal?
I wasn’t just blown away, I was truly surprised and already looking forward to my near return. Cicheti’s have changed me.
No longer will I tar restaurants with the ‘impersonal, shopping complex eatery’ brush. They have altered my way of thinking and they have certainly left their mark.
Remo and family, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for your hospitality and for such a memorable meal.
Until next time we dine… xxx
Cnr of Ashwin Parade & South Road
Torrensville SA 5031
p:(08) 8152 0765
Open for business – 7 Days
Early am till late for dinner
(Closed Monday night)
↑ Rare BTS shot of me getting my photo on. Thanks Tassi 🙂 xxx
*** Please note: All photographs contained in this post are the work of ‘Food According to Bree’ except the above picture of me and the shot of nonna rolling gnocchi, which are the work of Tempting Palates http://temptingpalates.blogspot.com.au/