Last week I met up with Tania and Celia for a very long overdue lunch – our first for 2014. Lorraine was meant to join us but unfortunately, due to an unavoidable scheduling crisis, she had to bow out of our get-together.
Celia organised the lunch at a restaurant that she has been to several times with her husband, Pete. It is Righetto Osteria Romana where their slogan is, ‘The art of eating well’.
Righetto Osteria Romana is in the main street of Haberfield. Parking is no trouble at all and it’s free. The day we met for lunch it was around 40C (104F) with a strong wind blowing hot air like when you open your oven door and your eyelashes melt. You will notice no one had chosen to eat outside and I was very relieved Celia had booked an indoor table.
As you are all aware, the food scene in Italy is divided into regions and this restaurant is proudly not only Italian but Roman. This was the first time I’d had specifically Roman cuisine.
Righetto Osteria Romana is a casual dining restaurant with rustic charm. On entering the restaurant you are greeted by the owner, Enrico who wears a warm and welcoming smile. He led us to a long wooden table that had plenty of elbow room and space for all the food.
Because we were worn out from the heat, we started our lunch with a glass of Pinot Grigio. The chilled dry white wine was a welcome relief and with the aid of the air-conditioning, helped cool me down. I thought the heavy wine glasses suited the rustic charm of the restaurant.
While we sipped on the wine Enrico brought out some toasted sourdough bread with a small dish of olive oil and balsamic. The oil was robust in flavour and the balsamic leaning towards sweet rather than acidic.
We wanted to sample as many things as we could manage and so we started with an antipasto platter. We asked Enrico to just put a selection of things on a board but I have to say, when it arrived we were certainly surprised by the size of it. There was a stuffed cabbage leaf, suppli, crocchette, polpetta, an egg-less frittata made with mashed potato, a zucchini frittata and bruschetta. While the bruschetta had great flavour from the basil and garlic, I would have liked the tomatoes to be a little more ripe. Everything else on the platter reminded me of good honest home cooking.
So early into the lunch and I was already no longer hungry. Then out came the mains that we were sharing. The first to arrive was the Trippa Fagiolini, tripe in tomato sauce. While Celia and Tania were enthusiastically positive about the tripe, I have to confess I didn’t eat any of it. I have an issue with tripe that I’ll tell you about in an upcoming post. But for those with no tripe issues, Tania and Celia have said this tripe dish is amazing.
The next dish to arrive was the Eggplant Parmigiana. I loved this dish. The eggplant wasn’t oily and was soft and mellow and it harmonised well with the stronger flavours coming from the cheesy tomato sauce.
There are a few gnocchi dishes on the menu and I would have liked to have tried the gnocchi with gorgonzola but as Celia is trying not to have too much lactose we chose the Funghi Tartufo that was made for us without cream and cheese. It seemed they’d replaced the cream and cheese with garlic as as soon as the dish hit the table we could smell the wonderful aroma of garlic. The gnocchi were very soft and yielding and quite like little pillows. The stronger flavours of mushrooms and garlic gave great flavour to the gnocchi.
We were unable to finish the three mains and so they were packaged up into takeaway containers for us Celia to take home to her boys. Just as we were about to step back out into the harsh conditions, Enrico arrived with three bowls of homemade strawberry gelato in a strawberry sauce with fresh berries and a sprig of mint. Now despite being full to the gills I managed to finish this and found it to be refreshing and cooling.
It was served with a small glass of homemade limoncello. As I was about to get behind the wheel of my car, I didn’t finish this glass of rocket fuel but I did have a few sips. Despite its potency, I do love limoncello. It really is a wonderful way to finish a meal and it compliments sweet desserts very well. The sour citrus flavour mixed with the alcohol is a very refreshing mix.
It had been a two-hour lunch and we’d talked so much we hadn’t paused for breath. Enrico had been very attentive and we were well looked after. The portions are generous and the food authentic. It was a delight to discover Righetto Osteria Romana.
Verdict: Everyone would want a ‘local’ like this.
Righetto Osteria Romana: 103 Ramsay Street, Haberfield NSW 2045
Ph: 9799 5500