PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
A sister eatery to the often awarded Assaggio Ristorante in swanky Hyde Park, this suburban favourite has earned its own stripes, being voted "Best Café" in 2012. It has a similarly rich décor of mocha, slate and funky hot orange – and if you can get past the seductive sweets cabinet flaunting herself at the entrance, then a hearty meal waits inside. The expansive dining room's feature wall extolls gastronomic sentiments of, "Who eats well, lives well" and, "A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine". Many will agree, and the vino list here offers pickings of grappa, moscato and other Italian imports, among domestic drops.
The menu is a satisfying read, with surely something to please most - soups, pasta, rice, seafood, pizza, salads and meats. In Assaggio style, dishes show a modern recognition of traditional Italian culinary ways. There is a slight spin on things, literally, with five popular appetisers presented to share, on a mini lazy Susan. Menu staples include farmhouse chicken soup, mushroom-filled aborio rice dumplings flavoured with vegetable broth, Calabrian veal and pork meatballs, seafood spaghetti, and Abbruzzi style pork, fennel and chilli sausages with fondo bruno glaze. The little ones ("i piccoli") get their own menu, while young and old alike will have a hard time keeping their noses out of that desserts display. Its in-house pasticceria is this café's pride and joy.
Assaggio Café is also on the Flavours of Campbelltown Food Trail – the local council's initiative to recognise, celebrate and share all of the many wonderful food producers and businesses in this region. The Food Trail's Bus Tours often stop here for lunch - a sure sign this Italian neighbourhood noshery is on track.