Assaggio Ristorante

What is the best way for two good friends (both food bloggers) to celebrate the day of their birth? Classy Italian of course!

Assaggio Ristorante has a lot going for it – chic Hyde Park location, tasteful interior, and three different menus that cater for vegetarians and gluten intolerant diners. With numerous awards won over the years, to say I had high expectations of Assaggio might be a slight understatement.

Roasted Veal

Tash started off with a cold entrée of Roasted Veal with a tuna and caper sauce. It wasn’t very attractive to look at, but the veal was nicely roasted and the tuna was the perfect combination that some might find overbearing (if you aren’t a fishy type of person), otherwise I enjoyed my sample.

Zucchini blossoms

Next, we both chose a hot entrée each; Tash ordering the Grilled Prawns wrapped in speck with some sort of bean salad stack while I chose the Zucchini blossoms with spinach, blue cheese, and ricotta. I didn’t get a chance to sample (or take a photo) of Tash’s dish, but she was definitely sold….and it was attractively presented.

My entrée was good without being spectacular. The ingredients were fresh and nicely cooked, but the dish ended up being lighter in flavor than expected. Perhaps a larger quantity of cheese might have been more to my liking. Not bad, but for $19, I didn’t see much value.

After our entrees, we were given complimentary palate cleansers of lemon sorbet. It was a lovely touch, and definitely proved its worth.

Pork Rib Eye

For the mains, Tash opted for the Pork Rib Eye and I chose Egg Ribbon Chicken pasta. The pasta was a perfect portion size. Slightly smaller than an average main at other Adelaide Italian restaurants, but was still quite filling. The ingredients were of a very high quality, alas, the flavor of the vegetables overpowered the chicken, and so it almost felt like I couldn’t taste the chicken at all. All the ingredients including the chicken, mushrooms and pasta were cooked fittingly. It was an acceptable dish, but I was anticipating more. I’ve definitely had better pasta in Adelaide.

Egg Ribbon Chicken Pasta

Tash’s pork looked (and smelled) mouthwatering. Again, I didn’t get to sample any, but it looked oh so juicy and flavorsome, Tash definitely enjoyed it.

The ambience inside the restaurant was superb. Soft lighting, comfortable chairs, with lofty ceilings, I could have sat there for the entire night. The young waiter was superb. He was professional and had a great sense of humor. In fact, all the staff was very well trained, and knew the menu well.

I don’t know how, but even after quite a filling pasta dish, I still had room for dessert. The dessert menu certainly featured many tempting Italian items. Tash chose the Panna Cotta and I opted for the Semifreddo.

My dessert appeared looking fresh and ready to be devoured. A tin of espresso syrup that the waiter poured into the chocolate cup on top of the semifreddo, dripping down the sides, joined it.

The cake was of a high quality, no doubt. The white chocolate was beautifully creamy and had a hint of pistachio that worked wonderfully with the chocolate on top. I personally found the espresso syrup too pungent, but that was my fault as I’m not a big coffee fan and overlooked the description of what was actually in the dessert – oh well!

Panna Cotta

I sampled Tash’s panna cotta and it tasted light and refreshing. Made to a very high standard, and presented with two strips of Italian pastry, it looked like a work of art.

When I made the booking, I was asked if this was a special occasion dinner, which I confessed we were celebrating both out birthdays. After our desserts, the waiter came back and said he had a little surprise for the both of us. He arrived back with this plate………

To say I was impressed would be a huge understatement. Two chocolate biscuits sat below a blue flame, the plate flawlessly decorated with Happy Birthday written in frozen chocolate. A lovely touch that was certainly appreciated – and superbly executed.

Overall, Assaggio was a lovely (albeit somewhat underwhelming) dining experience. I wouldn’t go back for the pasta as I know places that offer superior pasta of comparable quality. I thought my entree was overpriced, and while the mains were acceptable (price wise) – I would have expected more for what I paid. The service and the atmosphere were unquestionably the highlights of the night; the staffs are customer focused, well trained and the ambience is comforting.

Anyway….cheers to another year! Happy Birthday Tash, thanks for being my superstar!

Until next time…happy noms 🙂

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