My Local – The Taste of Italy
I HAVE been waiting for ages to see what they would do with our only local restaurant in Spearwood, which had been lying vacant and looking sad for some time.
When I walk in, it feels like it has grown in size. The warm taupe walls and new cream tiles make everything look invigorated. I admire the cream padded chairs as I sink into one, feeling the crispness of the white tablecloth. The crockery is also taupe and rustic, but stylish.
We chat with the owner of Portorosa Spearwood, Joe Napoli, who has returned to revamp and reinvigorate the restaurant after an absence of seven years. Back then, it had been runner up for Gold Plate Awards for Family Dining in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Joe and head chef Enrico Pelanconi are passionate about bringing the taste of Italy (with a modern twist), to this offshoot of Joe’s successful Fremantle restaurant (also called Portorosa), for all of us locals to enjoy.
One of his favourite dishes is Gnocchi Portorosa, which has prawns and a pink sauce (rosa means pink). He enjoys feeding families, as la famiglia is the epitome of Italian life.
We begin with Pomodoro e mozzarella di buffalo alla caprese. Roma tomatoes, basil, buffalo mozzarella, olive oil, laid on rocket leaves. Mama mia! It is real Italian cheese from real buffalo, white with plenty of body, and the fresh tomato and basil complement it perfectly. It is my partner’s dish of the day. We taste it with Ataahua Sauvignon Blanc, (Marlborough, New Zealand), a rounded full flavoured wine, and it brings out the creaminess of the cheese.
Polenta fritta con porcini trifolati is next: pan fried polenta with sautéed porcini mushrooms, garlic, parsley and white wine. This is my favourite, and I note a touch of parmesan, sharpening the flavour of the polenta with its crisp golden crust. The juicy mushrooms and delicate sauce pull the dish together. The Ataahua Sauvignon Blanc brings out the freshness of this delightful combination.
Risotto gamberi e zucchini: Arborio rice with local prawns, zucchini, basil, white wine and cherry tomatoes. The rice is cooked perfectly and not too gluggy, and the prawns have a pleasant firm texture. The slivers of zucchini are crisp, and the light sauce is not too overpowering for the subtle flavours. There is a large king prawn atop the dish which has a delicious smoky taste.
Our final dish is Filetto: grilled steak with a green peppercorn sauce, roast potatoes and vegetables. The scotch fillet is perfectly cooked, medium rare and tender with a pink centre. The sauce is creamy with a spicy bite from the peppercorns. The cubed potatoes have been browned nicely with a touch of rosemary, the beans wrapped in bacon are crunchy and the broccoli is a perfect texture. The 2013 Clos de Miran Grenache/ Shiraz (Cote du Rhone, Rhone, France), a light but smooth wine, brings out the lush flavour of the steak.
Portorosa Spearwood not only looks fresh and new, but the food and service are wonderful. A complete package of style and taste for everyone from couples to families to groups of any size. Buonissimo.
It is available for functions and special events such as Mother’s Day and the Melbourne Cup. There is a pizza oven, and the whole menu is available as takeaway for those too busy to stop and enjoy the ambience. Opening hours are Tuesday to Thursday from 5pm, and Friday to Sunday from 11am to late.
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