Tag Archives: Italian

La Capanna

I haven’t eaten here for ages, and in the last few weeks, I’ve eaten here twice! This was a quick meal to line our stomachs before some wine tasting. Martin had his usual – the cheeseless pizza base thingy with mushrooms and artichokes. I didn’t feel like any of the pastas, so ordered a small vegetarian pizza instead. I have to say, it wasn’t too bad. It was, however, kind of sloppy, but it had a decent amount of toppings and the base is pretty yummy. I was starving, so it didn’t take me very long to eat it all, however, it is quite large for a small pizza, so unless you are really hungry or are sharing with someone else, I wouldn’t recommend that you go any bigger than a small!

Mama’s Trattoria

It was a last minute decision to eat out with a colleague of Martin’s from the US, and Mama’s is a good, consistent, Italian restaurant, and one that we know does a variety of veggie dishes as well as meaty ones. We had garlic and herb bread to start – the herb bread seemed a little stale which was a bit disappointing, but didn’t really detract from the meal. I ordered the Fuseli Pompeii again, Martin went for the Fettuccine Pesto, and our companion ordered something with prawns and chilli. We all enjoyed our meals, it is just a shame that Martin wasn’t feeling 100%, so he couldn’t finish his meal! Wow – it would appear that I have not ordered an arrabiatta pasta dish from an Italian restaurant for a while now – I must be feeling a bit ill!

La Capanna

This was a geek dinner and there were eight of us unexpectedly descending on this restaurant. They were able to accommodate us fairly easily (being a Thursday), however, a few little things went wrong with the experience! One person didn’t receive their drink and Martin received the incorrect meal. They were very apologetic and made him the correct one, but also commented that they sound very similar – although, one had artichokes in it and the other didn’t and I clearly heard Martin say artichokes when he ordered. Anyway, the food was pretty good. As I have mentioned previously, my favourite pasta from here has disappeared from the menu, so I am usually at a loss as to what to order. I am not a huge fan of their pizzas, and am also not so keen on the bruschetta either. So I decided to order the rigatoni matriciana without the bacon. I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t actually happen that way, but it did and it was great – nice and spicy, but not too hot. My only complaint might be that it was a little on the small side. We also ordered garlic bread which is always yummy! Overall, not bad, but I think there are better Italian places around!

Mama’s Trattoria

I always love Mama’s! I think that is clear from previous reviews! Although in the last review I said that I usually order the same thing, this time I actually went for something a little different. There was a yummy looking special, but I decided I couldn’t really go past the Fuseli Pompeii, however Martin ordered the special, so I got to taste that too! The Fuseli Pompeii was great and is one of Martin’s favourite dishes – it comes with a tomato-y sauce with spinach and semi dried tomatoes – if it just had a bit of chilli in it, I think it would be my favourite pasta ever! The special was a creamy pesto sauce with capsicums, which was nice too. However, after a while it got a little bland and I was glad that I didn’t have to eat the whole dish. We also ordered garlic bread which is always yummy and after all that food we were so full that we could barely do our shopping! Needless to say, we had salad for dinner!

Il Porto – Nelson Bay, NSW

We were going to get some take away from an Indian restaurant, but it was closed, so we headed out to see what was open. I thought this place looked a little odd (sort of commercial and not really traditional) so I guess I didn’t really expect great food… which was what we got! We started with the bruschetta and a greek salad – both of which were great, but I have to say the salad was exceptional… full of feta and really, really good olives! I didn’t even miss the tomato! There were a number of veggie mains on the menu, however we both opted for other dishes without the meat – which they were happy to do for us. I had the spaghetti arrabiatta (yes, again!!) and Martin had the penne diavola. Both dishes came with optional chilli and we were asked how hot we would like it. Realising later that it was a stupid thing to say, I said ‘as hot as it comes’ meaning that the chef should decide and I would eat it as it comes with chilli in it – after I said it I realised that it was probably interpreted as ‘make it really hot!’. Anyway, it was incredibly delicious, and it was definitely one of the most spicy arrabiattas that I have ever eaten! Martin was also very impressed with his dish, commenting that the pasta was just another one of the ingredients instead of the main thing in the dish… We washed it all down with a large glass of Cockfighters Ghost Merlot each and it complemented the meal very well! The serves were huge, but I saw another table eating some very delicious looking desserts, so we decided to check the menu. After much discussion about the Toblerone Chocolate Mousse, we finally agreed on the profiteroles filled with Grand Marnier cream to share… and they were very, very good… and excellent finish to an excellent meal… If I were to go back to Nelson Bay, then I would definitely eat here again…

Pure Pizza Caf̩ РNelson Bay, NSW

We were hungry after braving the rough seas for a dolphin cruise, and pizza seemed like a good option. We were a little confused about sitting and ordering since there were a number of signs that seemed to contradict each other as well as what the staff said. Eventually we figured out that we should sit, then go order at the counter. We ordered a garlic bread and a half margarita half herbivore pizza and a couple of drinks. The drinks were served in the cans, without glasses and only 1 straw between us – interesting! When the plates were brought out, one was dirty and Martin had to return it to the counter and request another. The garlic bread was the standard sort – similar to the kind you get from fast food pizza places, which was a little disappointing. The pizza had a good crust and was absolutely smothered in cheese which made the tomato on the margarita half incredibly hot. On the whole, the pizza was ok – not outstanding. And I am not sure the whole thing was worth the 10% surcharge on Sundays!


We had an $80 gift voucher from here that had to be used up and since my parents were down, we thought that we would be able to spend at least $80 on dinner with them! Since it was a Saturday night, we rang and booked a table and I think it was a good thing that we did – they were incredibly busy. In fact, the tables were so close together that it was impossible to get past in some places once people were sitting at them… However, I digress! I have heard lots of good things about this place – the main thing is that they do amazing breakfasts – so given the quality of the dinner, I think we will go back and check it out. My mum decided that sizzling prawns were the way to go entree wise, so the rest of us shared a dip plate and the garlic and parmesan damper (from the specials board). The damper was delicious, as were the dips. The dips were a little unusual as it wasn’t your standard hummous, eggplant and beetroot. Well, there was beetroot, but there was also mushroom and something that we think was corn – absolutely yummy. And they came with a giant basket of bread which we couldn’t finish. We all ordered vegetarian risotto (some with chicken for the meat eaters) for our mains. The waitress recommended entree sizes since we had ordered entrees and we were glad that she did – they were still quite large. There are 2 types of vegetarian risotto on the menu – one with pumpkin and peas (which Martin had), and the other with tomato and spinach (which I had) and which was kind of like a risotto with a pasta sauce stirred through it. It was good, the flavours were subtle, but it was definitely good. This was all washed down with a nice bottle of wine, and we were so full that we could not even consider desert! There were a couple of things that were a little dodgy about this place. My dad’s risotto came out without chicken, so it had to be redone, in the meantime, the rest of us had all been offered cracked pepper for our meals. When my dad’s meal finally arrived, he was not offered pepper… a minor detail, but it was noticed. The other thing was that once we had our meals, it was incredibly hard to get someone’s attention when we were finished to ask for the bill. I finally did but there is one thing that really bugs me – I asked for the bill, therefore, it should be given to me. However, it wasn’t – it was set down in between the two men sitting at the table. I find this incredibly rude and annoying. However, the food was good, and it won’t really deter me from going back to try out their breakfast…

Wagon Wheels – Ramsgate (Sydney), NSW

This was a large extended family dinner to celebrate Father’s Day and some birthdays. There were 16 of us, but we booked in advance, so they knew we were coming. This is a pizza and pasta type joint that also did steaks and fish and various other meaty dishes. We were told not to worry because they did have some veggie options on the menu, however there were only 2 real options – not counting salad or dessert! Neither of us really felt like veggie pizza, so went with the only other option which was pasta napolitana – I got the large (which was huge) while Martin opted for the small and got pancakes as well. We also decided to share a Greek salad. Well! Our Greek salad arrived without olives or feta, which really made it a green salad with Greek dressing. My parents had also ordered a Greek salad, which also came without the bits that actually made it Greek, so we both sent them back. A few people had ordered pizza and it came out half an hour before everyone else’s meals arrived – which was approximately an hour and a half after we ordered. The pasta was ok – at least it had fresh tomatoes in it, but it certainly wasn’t great! And on top of that, other meals that had been ordered with vegetables came with chips, and vegetables were only brought out after this was pointed out… The service was incredibly average and the waitress seemed unable to remember anything about who had ordered what… We also overheard them offering another table free drinks because they had waited so long for their meals. That table of people arrived and ordered after us, however a number of their meals came out before ours. The waitress commented that it was due to having a large table in the restaurant that night… Geez – we had booked – how hard would it have been to put on a few extra staff to cope with the demand?? I personally won’t bother going back!

Il Giardino – San Diego, California, USA

We wandered around the ‘Gaslamp Quarter’ for a while looking for somewhere to eat. We checked many menus, kind of looking for Italian food that wasn’t too expensive! We checked this menu twice before actually decided to go in and eat. I am glad we did eat here, because we both agreed that this is probably the best Italian food we have ever eaten… it started out a little weird. We began by ordering a couple of glasses of Il Giardino Merlot (an excellent choice as it turned out – the wine was beautiful!). Following that, the waitress brought over a plate of meat to show us the lovely cuts that they had today. I jumped in pretty quickly and told her that we don’t eat meat, mainly so that she wouldn’t waste our time, but also because I didn’t really feel like looking at raw meat before eating my dinner… and not only because I don’t eat the stuff, even if I ate it, I don’t think I would want to see it raw before it was cooked and put on my plate! After this, she seemed to avoid us for a little while, but after she finished bringing out the meals for the table of about 15, she returned to us and ended up being fairly chatty. Anyway – food! We started by sharing the insalata di pomodoro – sliced tomatoes, red onion, basil and avocado. Since we were sharing, they actually brought it out, then divided it onto 2 plates and gave us each our own plate of it. Kind of a nice touch. It was delicious. For mains, I ordered my favourite meal – penne arrabbiatta and Martin ordered spaghetti al pomodoro. When they came out, I thought that they would taste much the same as the sauces looked very similar, however upon tasting Martin’s dish, the flavours were incredibly different. The arrabbiatta was amazing, the sauce was so obviously freshly made with lovely chunks of fresh tomato and just the right amount of chilli! Martin’s spaghetti also had chunks of fresh tomato, but it also had a lovely nutty flavour to it. We figured we were on a bit of a roll with the good food and decided to order some dessert as well. We had overheard the options being presented to the table next to us and I had thought that I might try the cannoli. However, they don’t just tell you what desserts there are – they show you – there is one of each set up on a plate and they bring them to your table to make your mouth water… So, upon seeing them, there was no way I could go past the profiteroles, but Martin decided he would have the cannoli. And both were great… As I said at the beginning, we think that this is the best Italian food we have ever eaten… if you are in San Diego, don’t miss it!

Mama Stella’s Pizza Kitchen – San Diego, California, USA

Mama Stella’s Pizza Kitchen is at Sea World, I wouldn’t normally review a place like this, however, you are not allowed to take outside food or drinks (including bottled water) into Sea World and this was pretty much the only place where we could get a ‘decent’ meal to eat! By the sound of it, Mama Stella’s was a place where you could get a nice-ish pizza, however, they were all pre-made and the only veggie option was cheese. They also had some salads, and when I asked if they had a pasta sauce without meat, I was able to get some pasta with a plain tomato sauce on it – I think it was the dipping sauce for the bread sticks – and I had to ask her to put an extra spoon of sauce on so that it was actually covering the pasta! I expected there to be little variety, and for it to be expensive, but it is incredibly disappointing that they tell you that you cannot bring in outside food and then offer you such a small choice. They are obviously catering to the masses and don’t care about people with specific dietary requirements.