Nestled in the northern suburb of Inglewood you’ll find Il Pasto on the corner of Beaufort St and Ninth Avenue. It was so busy on a Saturday night, that when friends rang to book the day before, the only choice for table for five was at 6pm or 8.30pm. We opted for the later table and were pleasantly surprised when the restaurant called to day our table was ready earlier. We were seated by 8pm.
I was immediately impresses when I walked in. Every table was full of smartly dressed diners, many looking European, chatting away. A good sign. The interior was smartly decorated and had an elegant and comfortable feel.
The menu was good, offering good selections of antipasti, pasta, mains, sides, and desserts. One advantage to sitting so close to other tables is that it’s easy to see what they are eating – if you are like me and like to look at the dishes before ordering. Upon seeing the next table’s mains and the generous portion sizes, we opted to share antipasti for entree.
I was so happy to see marinated white anchovies ($12) on the menu – a favourite of ours when we were in Sicily last year. The whole menu in fact is influenced by Sicilian food. Forget the salty hairy fish found on cheap pizza that make kids say “gross”,these anchovies were light and delicate, marinated in a vinaigrette, and very moorish. The big green Sicilian olives ($6) were meaty and firm, and the dried pork fennel sausage ($7) tasted home made and had a touch of spice. A great start.
Zorba opted for Paccheri alla Siciliana: Large tubes of pasta, anchovies, chilli, tomato, basil, baby capers topped with sheep’s milk Pecorino Debbene Biologico ($25). He enjoyed it and when I tasted it, I reached for my glass of sparkling Italian water – it was spicy! Then again, I’m such a softy for chilli and usually find anything with chilli in it too hot.
My main meal was the winning choice of the night. Paccheri, zucchini e frutti di mare: Large tubes of pasta tossed through finely chopped Morton Bay bug meat, tiger prawns, crab, zucchini,EVOO and cherry tomato topped with fresh herbs ($34). The pasta was perfectly cooked, the seafood was sweet, the zucchini added texture, and every mouthful was a delight.
The service was attentive and friendly, and everyone around the table enjoyed their meals. Despite the portion size, we all left our plates clean. Best thing of all, you can match this great food with your own favourite wine. It’s BYO ($3 corkage per bottle).
The desserts looked and sounded tempting – Torta Caprese, Tiramisu, Cassatta (all $12), but we were full and totally satisfied. We decided to stop there rather than keep eating and leaving feeling disgustingly full. Sometimes less is more.
Our bill, split between five people, came to just over $40pp. Very reasonable and for the quality of the food, service, and ambience, i thought it was actually very good value. Thumbs up from this discerning Italian restaurant critic!
Verdict: Quality food, service, and good value for money with a comfortable elegant setting. It’s busy on weekends and probably not the best for a romantic night if you want to talk in private as tables are close together. Otherwise, it’s a great choice. Bookings a must.