How many pizzas and pastas would an Italian restaurant have dished out if it has been around for more than thirty five years?
Good food consistency is important for a restaurant but La Botte D’oro in Sydney’s “little Italy” must be doing something right for so many years among the litany of old style Italian restaurants in Leichhardt.
We used to frequent this restaurant many years ago and I recall it is more than ten years since my last visit here with Monk. So together with Fiona tonight, we are eager to check out the menu after such a long time.
Here’s the scene ~ there are no Gen X & Ys in the dining room because they are all partying in hip bars in Surry Hills.
And you know this restaurant is more than thirty years old when baby boomers are happily tucking into ravioli bolognese, penne arrabbiata and fettuccine boscaiola. You can always spot regular restaurant goers from a mile. Armed with their BYO wine coolers, they waltz into the restaurant greeting staff by their first names.
The dining room is spaciously spread over three different areas. A large woodfire oven is located at one end and a chef is dishing out pizzas to diners.
But one thing that sets this restaurant apart from so many in Leichhardt is the fresh seafood. Shellfish, octopus and fish are displayed on an open ice bed in the middle of the dining room.
A 2011 A. Retief Chardonnay is floral with summer stone fruits and light on the palate with good oak balance.
Grilled fresh seafood is a specialty in this restaurant and we order a mixed seafood platter of prawns and baby octopus.
Halved lengthwise, the prawns are plump, seasoned with dried herbs, olive oil and chargrilled. Tasty as they are, these prawns are not entirely difficult to replicate at home.
I had images of flaky white fish stirred into short grain rice when our waiter said the special tonight is a John Dory risotto.
What arrives instead is al dente risotto with fragrant and earthy aromas of truffle oil, topped with a John Dory fillet and rocket leaves.
I’m not sure if the peppery taste of rocket leaves are most appropriate for this dish but hiding underneath the greens is a beautifully charred piece of fish and a deliciously creamy risotto. The John Dory contributes little, if any flavour to the risotto since it was cooked separately. But if this risotto is any indication of wonderful truffle aromas, I would gladly return just for the risotto al tartufo for $18.
The pizza chef is busy with orders from the floor and takeaways.
Margherita pizza is as basic as tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil leaves.
The crust and base is thin, crispy and a light sprinkling of parmesan on top adds more flavour to nudge this pizza beyond good.
The fresh seafood on display attracts diners who are curious and keen to check out the seafood before ordering, almost similar to a Chinese restaurants with live seafood.
A spag vongole is firm with flavours of small clams, garlic, white wine and parsley.
Tasty but stock standard, it’s one of those dishes where nothing should go wrong and nothing is really out of the ordinary.
There are no smoky aromas from the BBQ from a spatchcock since it is flattened and seared on a griddle rather than a BBQ.
Tiramisu in a traditional Italian restaurant is like fortune cookies in a neighbourhood Chinese.
La Botte D’oro is a good choice if you are looking for old style Italian food.
The dishes are tasty, the pizzas hit the mark being your friendly neighbourhood pizzeria though the menu can do with a bit more excitement.
Then again, when you have been around for thirty six years, is there any good incentive to change something that has always worked?
So dear readers, do you like old style Italian restaurants serving yesteryear favourites or would you prefer more contemporary Italian food?
La Botte D’oro
137 Marion street
Leichhardt, New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 9560 1349
Opening hours: Lunch and Dinner 7 days