Modern Italian eats in European surrounds
Waterloo’s undergone a bit of a facelift recently. And nowhere demonstrates this better than the Casba development: it has a plaza that feels somewhere between a Moroccan riad and a Spanish luxury mall. Upstairs are apartments, and on the ground there are numerous posh shops and restaurants, not least the excellent Middle Eastern eatery Kepos & Co (Kepos Street Kitchen is just round the corner). And now there’s Beccafico, a swish, Italian-style restaurant.
Inside, it’s darkly toned, clean and contemporary, with extensive wine-rack walls and wide glass windows. It’s not exactly homely, but the service is solid, and with a Negroni in hand it doesn’t take long for us to feel settled.
Food is a mixed bag – tender pillows of gnocchi come tossed in a rich, bisque-like prawn sauce along with crunchy fresh prawns, lightly steamed broccolini and a tumble of crispy breadcrumbs for texture. It could do with more sauce, and seasoning is a bit low, but everything is beautifully cooked.
Rabbit pasta comes in the form of ravioli stuffed with shreddy meat. A light ragu coats the pasta and little pops of broad beans give the dish texture. Again seasoning is lacking. We love the beef short rib however, which sees big, tender hunks of caramelised meat served with crunchy, fluffy roast potatoes tossed with rosemary. There’s a vinegar-heavy salsa verde singing of basil on the side that helpfully counteracts the richness of the meat. Order the flat beans too – their waxiness is balanced against a punchy, reduced tomato sauce and plenty of Parmesan. Its simplicity and honest reflection of good produce makes it one of the best dishes of the night.
The tiramisu is creamy but dense, oddly served with thawed-out frozen berries, mint and coulis. Coffee and chocolate are already a perfect marriage, why bring in an awkward third party? If you need a pud, opt for the pistachio gelato. It’s bought in, but contains whole nuts so it's nubbly and needs no other adornment.
The kitchen certainly knows how to cook here – almost every dishes' elements are beautifully prepared. But we don’t like being charged $7 for (quite dry) bread when most restaurants do it for free (or at half the price), nor do we like superfluous berry adornment that succeeds only in diminishing our enjoyment of dessert. Pair it back, work a bit on seasoning and this place could gain a star. As it is though, it’s still a solid Italian in Waterloo. And those beans…
|Venue name:||Beccafico Bar and Trattoria|
Shop 8/18 Danks St
|Opening hours:||Tue-Thu 5.30pm-late; Fri-Sun 10am-3pm and 5.30pm-late|