15/20

Mezzalira

Corner London Circuit and West Row, Melbounre Building, Canberra, ACT

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Calamari crostini.
Calamari crostini. Photo: Graham Tidy

Bryan Martin

Canberra Times Top 20 for 2012

This is one of Canberra’s Italian stalwarts, occupying a fine-dining slot on the corner of the Melbourne Building for many years now. Next year, you can expect a promised revamp, with plans for a new menu in a more relaxed environment. With a trend to more informal food and service, this is the way to go.

Already, Pasquale Trimboli, who with his family also owns the hugely successful Italian and Sons on the other side of the city centre, is trialling some new dishes.

A pair of crisp crostini, topped with tender pieces of calamari on a finely diced caponata plus a few spears of seasonal asparagus is what I’m talking about. It speaks the right language. It’s light, healthy and at $16, good value. It tastes so good, crunchy, flavourful, so gosh-darn Italian.

The new kitchen will boast a woodfired grill, so dishes like swordfish will take on a more guttural intensity with the wood smoke and caramel notes, paired with an inspirational finely diced marinated peach and slices of zucchini and then, bang on top an anchovy and ricotta-like cheese-filled zucchini flower. See, I bet you’re thinking how good that would be already.

To finish, the family has a penchant for great Italian cheeses; hard to resist.

The wine list has always been a strength, with lots of interesting imports from Italy and fair prices. Mezzalira is fairly formal, but with a rejig of the style and menu, combined with the wines and woodfired breads and focaccia, I can see the new Mezzalira emerging like Italian and Sons to set casual dining alight in the city.

How we score: Food and Wine Annual Top 20

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Corner London Circuit and West Row, Melbounre Building, Canberra, ACT

  • Cuisine - Italian
  • Features - Accepts bookings, BYO, Licensed, Private dining, Wheelchair access
  • Chef(s) - Pasquale Trimboli and Diego Arata
  • Owners - Trimboli family
  • Opening Hours - Lunch Mon to Fri, dinner Mon to Sat
  • Author - Bryan Martin
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