Last Friday, a friend and I were both craving Italian, so we decided that a ‘feed’ was in order. Another friend had previously recommended La Cantina in Narrabundah, and because I was feeling too lazy to drive in to the city and deal with parking, we decided to give it a go.
La Cantina is located at Narrabundah shops, right next to one of my favourite Canberra restaurants, The Artisan. The space is really, really, cool. Behind big wooden doors is a brick cellar like room, with a large bar and kitchen towards the back. Classic Italian art adorns the walls and the lighting is soft and ambient – perfect date night material! I did find it a little bit cold, being next to the window and surrounded by brick, but that wore off once I started drinking.
The space was about three quarters full when we arrived, and we were seated towards the entrance quickly and without fuss. My friend commented that we were on table 13 on Friday the 13th – obviously this meant…actually I don’t know what that means, but she told me I had to mention it in my post.
Our waitress for the night told us about the specials (including a delicious sounding chicken and mushroom ragu), and we ordered drinks. I’d had a bit of an insane week/month/year, so I decided to go straight for the hard stuff – a negroni. The negroni was strong and bitter, just how I like it.
The bruschetta was nice, the bread was fluffy, but apart from the very fresh taste of tomato there wasn’t much else going on.
For mains we both decided on a small pasta dish. V ordered the Rigatoni Rustici – Sausage, pancetta, confit Roma tomato and Pecorino cheese.
My friend liked her pasta, said it was made up of delicious ingredients, but also felt like it was something she could make at home (although to a lesser quality). I tried some of the sausage and I thought it had great flavour.
I ordered the Ravioli di Anatra e Funghi – Duck and mushroom ravioli with confit organic garlic, burnt sage butter and Pecorino cheese.
This dish is supremo comfort food. The burnt sage butter was strong and rich, and the ravioli was large and full of intense duck/mushroom goodness.
It is an indulgent dish, but I felt it lacked any freshness and would probably work well with some green vegies or something to just lift it out of the ‘too heavy’ category. I do think it would be perfect for winter though!
For dessert we both ordered our own dishes, V ordered the Flourless chocolate torte served with vanilla bean gelato and Pistachio soil and I ordered the Vanilla and orange infused Panna cotta with Vinocotto poached pear and crispy honeycomb.
The torte was rich and moist, really dense and decadent – yum! The Panna Cotta was also delicious, flavoursome and rich – but perhaps a little bit less wobbly than I would like (personal preference, though). The vinocotto poached pear was sweet and soft, and the honeycomb was indeed crisp. I really loved this dessert but was too full to finish it.
The service at La Cantina was spot on, really friendly and efficient without being intrusive, and the ambience of the restaurant was really classic and homely – I had a relaxing night and was more than content (although full) when I left. The food is classic and well-made Italian, perfect if you’ve got a hankering for good produce deliciously prepared.
I’d highly recommend this place for date night and for a catch up with a small group of friends – there’s an intimacy about this place that looks to suits smaller parties really well (as evidenced by the large number of couples/groups of two friends there that night.