“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore,” crooned Dean Martin. And there is something about dining in a decent Italian restaurant that captures your soul and makes you feel like you are falling in love. Maybe it’s the food, or maybe it’s the atmosphere. And Molto Italian seems to have found that magic ingredient.
I dined after one of those awful days that you want to laugh about and forget. And my dining companion had had a pretty rough week as well. Yet somehow, as soon as we entered Molto Italian’s warm embrace we were chatting, smiling, laughing without a care in the world. I looked around and realised the whole restaurant was on a happy high well: La Dolce Vita – the sweet life.
We arrived without a booking and the restaurant was full, so we were seated at the bar. This was no hardship as the bar staff were charming and made sure that we were fed and watered. At their recommendation we ordered a plate of plate of two salamis: Italian artisan Salami Cacciatore, thick chunks of chorizo-reminiscent sausage flavoured with aniseed, and thinly sliced Prosciutto San Daniele DPO ($8 each for 40g). The salami was served with a savoury fried Italian doughnut bread, decadent with pancetta wrapped around it. Our Don Nicola ‘Old Vines’ Zinfandel wine was a bit too light for the meats, but was still easy to drink.
Happy and relaxed by the time we were shown to our table half an hour later, our attentive waitress assisted with the menu (which was partially in Italian) and spent some time explaining the special Florence T-bone steak, which came in 600g or 1kg. My dinner date was hooked. It arrived as a spectacular deboned tower, cooked medium rare to order. It was sensational. But not cheap at $72 for 600g (we did not realise this when ordering). He washed this down with a glass of 2014 Petaluma 100 Line Cabernet Sauvignon; the wine list is not extensive but well thought out. (My date is a self-confessed wine nut.)
I chose classic housemade ravioli with spinach and buffalo milk ricotta in burnt butter and sage sauce ($28). The portions were not overly generous, although the flavours were rich and silky. I was quietly happier with my ravioli.
For dolce I chose the nougat and honey semifreddo, which I had spied emerging from the open-air kitchen ($16). I thought it more icecream than semifreddo, but still exceptional. Sadly, this will come off the menu soon as winter approaches. My partner chose Nonna’s tiramisu ($15), which had too much cream relative to savordi fingers.
We felt like we were part of an extended Italian family during our meal, a sense completed when manager Carlo Tosolini sat down to chat. We felt special, a non-frugal meal I will always remember.
What: Molto Italian
Where: Eastlake Parade, Kingston Foreshore
Opening hours: 6pm to 11pm (Mon); 12pm to 11pm (Tues-Sun)