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|
The bustle and the great smells hit you as soon on you push open the door Italian and Sons. No longer the new-kid-on-the block from much-loved Canberra restaurant family the Trimbolis, eight years in it is settling into a solid and sophisticated place as a consistently exciting stayer.
Window seats, tables for four and more and some bar seating fill the narrow space that is anchored in the wood oven down the back. The room is in constant motion, with the swirl of practiced service giving it an irresistible rhythm that sweeps you up. You trust this lot: they look like they know what they are doing, and they love it.
A starter of asparagus and globe artichoke ($20) is lightly crisped, amplifying the flavour and indulgent goodness of these two wonderful vegetables - the asparagus is fat and the artichoke perfectly pared down to its nutty heart. Inferior versions of both vegetables are too-often tossed about: this dish reminds you how noble asparagus and artichoke are when simply treated and at their peak.
A serve of wood-fired focaccia ($8) is thin, crisp and delicious, a classy carrier for the good oil and good salt that adorn it.
Pizza Margherita ($24) is exactly as it should be, a blistered thin crust, topped sparely with the best fior di latte mozzarella, fresh basil and tomato sauce. Texture along with clear, clean flavors working in perfect sync, to deliver one of the great simple dishes - it is worth every cent of the $24.
A wonderfully black (with squid ink) linguini ($34), is a great balance of ingredients. The sweetness of the crab shining through and lifted with a little tomato, chili and crunchy breadcrumb panegrattato. Again this pasta seems simple, but that involves spectacular ingredients and a very sure hand on the pans. Restraint and balance are required to ensure the crab is not overwhelmed, that just the right amount of good oil is added, and that the crunch via the panegrattato makes a great conterpoint, not a scratchy, suffocating blanket.
Rosato from Calbria and Dolcetto D'Alba from Piedmont work well with the flavors, and take their place in a very impressive mostly Italian list. Some high-quality Canberra locals are present also, and a short list of great cocktails, see the white peach Bellini.
Dessert is altogether an indulgence and the silky smooth flourless chocolate torte ($16), with salted caramel popcorn and chocolate sorbetto is delightful: fabulous deep chocolate flavours, with sprightly contrasts, it makes a classy finish to a great meal.
Booking is essential here, and usually involves choosing an early or later sitting, so plan ahead for that special dinner. But if you can't wait in between times, there's hope. Out the back at Bacaro a drink and pizza of the day, along with a scattering of other menu items, are available in more casual surroundings.
Italian and Sons is never cheap but never dull. It brings together the best traditions of Italian cooking: clean, sophisticated dishes with an emphasis on ingredients, balance and the kind of simplicity borne of real skill, and years and years in the kitchen.