Luciano’s, Glenelg

disclaimer: I was a guest at the Luciano’s influencer dinner

It was a sad day when Esca down at Glenelg’s Marina Pier closed. It had been one of the longer-lived venues in this somewhat tricky space and was also one of the best located – central, with both marina and sea views. And it was actually also good.

It’s space has been recently reinvented as Luciano’s – a modern Italian restaurant, with Adam Swanson on board as consulting executive chef and Loris Facciolo as head chef. While Adam is probably going to be a familiar name (Zucca’s, San Remo ambassador) Loris probably not so much. That’s because Loris hails from northern Italy and brings his Milanese experience to Adelaide.

The refit of the restaurant is very ‘beachy’ – my guest’s word to describe it – with a big open kitchen and lots of neutral colours, with a real white-washed feel to it. Mercifully, important things like carpet, upholstered chairs, tablecloths (and really lovely cloth napkins) have been incorporated into the new design. Great news for anyone who actually wants to have a conversation! Even at our very long (and noisy!) table, you were able to hear the people next to and opposite you. This augurs well for smaller groups.

Of course, lovely furnishings, a great ambience and incredible sunsets only get a restaurant so far. The most important things are food and service (and not necessarily in that order). The waiter at my end of the table was charming (Italian, so maybe that goes without saying), efficient and helpful – volunteering mocktails for the non-drivers and ensuring that glasses were always topped up.

We were incredibly lucky to be treated to an astonishing spread of food. It felt like almost every single dish on the menu was presented to us – the idea being that we take a mouthful of everything. By the time main courses arrived, most of us were full (pasta does that to you) – it was an extremely generous spread.

I’m not going to list every dish I tried, nor am I going to put every single photo up: I’m going to go for the highlights. All the photos (good and bad!) are in a Facebook album here.

Highlight of the antipasti was the vitello tonnato. This is a dish which, to my mind, should just NOT work. Veal with tuna sauce. In English it just sounds … average (to be kind). But it is so good – the veal was beautifully tender, the tuna sauce (dressed with bottarga) was delicious. I’d have this again – and someone suggested that it would make an amazing sandwich filling. I’m on board with this – if Luciano’s starts offering a vitello tonnato sandwich at lunch … I’ll be there!

For pasta, we had mezzi rigatoni (short ones) carbonara (“no cream!” explained Adam), the linguini con volgole and the gnochetti with crab (the restaurant’s signature) along with risotto milanese. I’m not not sure which was my pick here … possibly the linguini con vongole purely because I don’t eat it often. Alongside the pasta, three pizzas were served – the winner easily being the prosciutto rucola e grana on the smoothness and creaminess of the fior di latte alone.

At this point the mains came out – I managed a mouthful of each. Twice cooked pork belly – deliciously tender and moist with crispy skin, barramundi parcel – also tasty and the veal cotoletta which was a big thick chop, crispy crumbs and beautifully cooked. A shout out to the side of broccolini although this could be improved upon with just a touch of chilli!

If you can believe it – we then wrapped up with dessert. Of these, the star was the white chocolate pannacotta with raspberries and pistachio. You don’t hear me say that often because white chocolate is comprehensively the devil’s work but this pannacotta was delicious – wobbly, smooth, sweet and cut through by the raspberries and raspberry coulis.

As I was a guest, I didn’t have to worry about the bottom line but the menu prices are all standard – if you eat out often there’s unlikely to be bill-shock. The menu (and drinks list) is online and the ‘tutto’ (or feed-me) option at $60 for six courses sounds like it should be sensational value.

Will I head back and spend my hard-earned at Luciano’s? The answer is yes. I promised Master 9 I’d take him there for a meal if it was any good … maybe we’ll see you there during the school holidays!

Marcellina’s Turns 50

Fresh pizza toppings
Spread ready to go!

date of visit: Tuesday 30 May 2017
disclaimer: I was invited to the dinner

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: On Monday 5 June, to celebrate 50 years of pizza in SA, Marcellina’s in Hindley Street (and note, the Hindley Street store only), from 11am – 4pm, will be selling the original Marcellina special (9″) for just … EIGHTY CENTS. Limit of two pizzas per person.

I grew up in Pizza Hut’s heyday. In fact, before Pizza Hut even did the all-you-can-eat thing. And even then, my parents would talk about Marcellina’s and how it was a revelation when it opened on Hindley Street. I was amazed that there was a time when there was so little Italian food in Adelaide, let alone that that time was within living memory.

So finding out that this year Marcellina’s celebrates 50 years as a proud South Australian business kind of made me feel … old.

The recent gelid weather is perfect red wine and pizza weather, so on Tuesday night, I collected a friend and we headed to Hindley Street to help the Marcellina’s team celebrate. We had no idea what to expect and when we arrived we were a little concerned to see the shop looking quiet and empty. Of course, the great thing about a pizza shop is that there is always pizza.

Marcellina’s original store on Hindley Street is also home to a large function room (Bebe’s Room) at the back of the store … and there, across the length of the room, the most beautiful table had been set up.

A quick introduction revealed that guests would be making their own pizzas from the amazing spread in front of us! The original idea had included us rolling out our own dough and while that had been shelved as being impractical (thank goodness!) balls of fresh dough were included in platters across the table, just so we didn’t forget why we were there.

There was also plenty of food for immediate grazing, along with the all-important red wine, but we didn’t have to wait long before a pizza base (in an individually numbered box) arrived and we could load it up as we wished. The Marcellina pizza ovens are capable of turning out a pizza in just SIX minutes so any delay in eating was solely on our own heads.

pizza
The finished product!

Obviously I enjoyed my pizza (although I do rather wish I’d added the char-grilled capsicum to it) and, because I managed to eat just over half of it, it meant I had a rather tasty afternoon tea the following day!

I don’t normally do this but I’d like to commend Sassafras PR and Marcellina’s on what was easily one of the best events I’ve attended. It was well planned and interactive, with a brief, but informative, introduction. The area in which we were hosted was well lit and beautifully set up (important for photos and social media!). Crucially, for a Tuesday night, it ran to time. OK – super-speedy pizza ovens and getting your guests to build-their-own undoubtedly helps in that respect – but for anyone who has to get up the next day (whether that’s for work or for loud children – or a combination of both) this is crucial.

Even if you’re not able to take advantage of the 80c pizza special, I’d recommend taking the time to make a pizza pilgrimage to Marcellina’s on Hindley Street. A slice of South Australia’s culinary and restaurant-trade history.

Marcellina
273 Hindley Street
Adelaide SA 5000
8211 7560

Gelatissimo x Trolls

gelati
Poppy’s Frosting & Branch’s Cupcake

disclaimer: I was a guest at the gelato masterclass

A couple of weeks ago I was invited up to Gelatissimo at Norwood to a gelato masterclass which also celebrated the launch of two limited edition Trolls flavours.

For some reason, I’ve always been under the impression that gelato is non-dairy based (unlike ice cream). However,  I have been wrong. Sorbet is water-based, gelato is milk and cream-based and ice cream may be milk and cream-based or it may be custard-based (in which case it also contains eggs). At Gelatissimo, the range also includes sorbets – so if you don’t eat dairy, you can still enjoy an icy treat.

We started with a quick run down of the theory of making gelato, before being shown the ropes. The Gelatissimo stores all make their product on-site and in the Norwood store, the action takes place behind a wide window, so you can get an idea yourself.

Gelato is made by mixing the milk, cream and sugar at temperature (in order to dissolve the sugar) before cooling and adding flavourings.  It is then churned at near freezing temperatures in order to both set the gelato and ensure there are no crystals.

gelato machine
Where the magic happens

While gelato is hardly health food, Gelatissimo does keep one eye on nutrition and there’s an emphasis on using natural products. Despite its very scary purple appearance, the Trolls-inspired Branch’s Cupcake gelato is actually coloured with beetroot! Quite a few of the standard flavours use Stevia in lieu of extra sugar and where possible, natural flavourings and colourings are used. The great thing is that the staff in the Norwood store (at least) were across all of this, so you can quiz staff about their product and they will actually know.

We sampled the two new flavours – Branch’s Cupcake and Poppy’s Frosting. I was really scared by the purple of Branch’s Cupcake (purple and blue are two colours foods are just not meant to be!) but I really enjoyed it. Not sure I can nail a flavour description for you – Gelatissimo describes it as ‘cupcake’ so I guess that kind of vanilla and cake batter vibe is what you should expect. I really wasn’t a fan of Poppy’s Frosting. It’s described as a bubblegum flavour but to me it was more along the lines of banana or banana sweets. 

As these are limited edition flavours, if you want to try them out you should do so during the school holidays. But never fear if you do miss out, as Gelatissimo has a very impressive range of flavours to choose from!

Gelatissimo Norwood
1/198-200 The Parade
Norwood SA 5067
ph: (08) 7225 4320