Another Welly institution I haven’t been to for years is Nicolinis, Open since 1997, it’s still going strong. If you remember Bellissimo or Aroma cafe late 80’s, same owner- Raffaele Abbate. I actually first met Raffaele and his wife when they ran the restaurant in the hotel in Webb St, early 80’s. Now there’s some years for you. When you enter Nicolinis you forget about noisy Courtenay place, as you arrive in Italy. A traditional narrow bistro, dark wood decorated with Italian maps, photos, flags to boot. The restaurant is small but don’t be fooled as they have a private area out the back with about 10 tables. Good for groups. The only thing is the lovely background music gets lost in the chatter, especially on graduation night/Christmas dinners.
Raffaele’s traditional Napolitan recipes use fresh, local produce with imported goodies to keep it authentic. One of his sons (strong resemblance) now runs the show and it runs like clockwork. The staff are friendly, efficient, knowledgeable and passionate. Very rare to have such well-trained staff. The only menu change I noticed was options for the glutards. Why change anything else for changesake, if it works right?
Our friends were having parking issues, so I arrived first. Being a trusty member of Club Garibaldi, we get free parking after 6pm and all day weekends. Bellissimo. I ordered us the obligatory bottle of Pellegrino sparkly water and chose a Sangiovese red for the tavola.The wine list is huge too with Italian, Aussie or Kiwi wines.
I wasn’t overly hungry (I know, not like me right?). Hubby was starving so ordered the calamari to share. It came within minutes which was a little suspect, and tasted a little too oily for my liking. Other hubby ordered bruschetta and a platter (OMG where doe she put it all?!). I enjoyed a single, large, warm olive and a tiny bit of bruschetta. Very tasty. That my friends, is how I maintain my weight. Small bites.
The majority of pastas or mains are creamy, so I opted for a tomato-based special; venison sausage rigatoni. However their only gluten-free pasta option was penne. I was like what, boom that’s my favourite anyway when I do have pasta as a treat. It was delicious and an ample portion so I couldn’t finish it. (I know right?!). Geez I could eat pasta till the cows come home as it stirs up so many fond memories for me, but my tummy isn’t good with it, and it shoots up your insulin levels. I’m darn well having it next year in Italy though. Every day! When in Rome.
Hubby enjoyed his mushroom risotto, as did Marc with his pescatora pasta and Ems chose lamb parcel pasta. Delicioso. Of course fat boy (Marc’s pet name but he’s no longer fat), chose the tiramisu. It was so pretty and perfect, but I still couldn’t even lean over to nab a teaspoon. There was no room at the inn.
There my friends, for a fab Italian night out at reasonable prices, Nicolinis is an Italian Welly institution and deserves our support.