7 Lonsdale Street Braddon, Australian Capital Territory 2612
|Opening hours||Lunch Tues-Fri noon-2pm; dinner Mon-Sat 6pm-late|
|Features||Accepts bookings, Licensed, Wheelchair access|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||02 6162 4888|
Canberra Times Top 20 restaurants for 2013: No.2
The confidence of Italian and Sons is infectious. The Trimboli brothers set this one up right, a classy casual-chic brasserie-style diner with a gorgeous loose menu of full-flavoured Italian comfort dishes. It's refined Italian, rather than rustic, but with food aimed at flavour and impact, not cleverness or artistry.
The menu has a single ''piatti del giorno'', and our favourite is Thursday's chianti-braised wagyu beef cheeks, with dark, gelatinous meat cooked to a fall-apart state. There are also short lists of pastas, pizzas, cured meats and starters. Best thing is to order this way, rather than attempting a straight entree-and-main format because there's an awful lot of goodness in the small dishes.
The sardines in saor starter is a favourite, the South Coast sardines served in the classic Italian sweet-and-sour pickle style, with pinenuts, currants and vinegar.
The cured meats, from Quattro Stelle in Sydney, are full of depth and pungency, and great alongside the fantastic oily, crisp bread from the wood-fired oven at one end of the room. Also from this oven come Canberra's best pizzas with gently chewy light bases and thinly spread toppings.
Among pastas is spaghetti of scampi tail, which has the intensity and simplicity of all the food that comes out of this kitchen, the spaghetti cloaked in an excellent seafood stock. The simplicity is epitomised in a dish of cannellini beans with calamari, a stew of minimal fuss, a few beans in a light tomato sauce with fresh fennel fronds.
For dessert, the tiramisu is rich and creamy, and the warm panettone is a must order - a bread and butter pudding in its own little cast-iron frypan, with custard with lemon-peel, grappa-soaked prunes, almonds and a separate amaretto zabalione. Sweet, warm with a lovely crunch on top.
The wine list is all Italian and very good; and service, too, has proper attention.
The two sittings (around 6pm or 8pm) put some off, but for us the very happily arranged menu, excellent produce and classy casual surrounds, makes it very near the best we have.