My parents and I were after a mid-late Friday afternoon lunch at around 2.00pm, but wanted something healthy, affordable, and accompanied with a friendly and inviting atmosphere. A pub meal would have been the easy option, but would not have covered all the bases. We had been for lunch on the fly about a month ago and remembered a great café called Assaggio in Campbelltown. It had recently won Best Café in the 2012 S.A. Restaurant and Catering Awards, while its big sister restaurant in Hyde Park won ‘Restaurant of the Year’ and ‘Best Italian’ in the same coveted competition.
We were promptly greeted and escorted to our table (and even given a choice). Our menus arrived almost instantaneously along with an offer of some still or sparkling water. As we perused the well-defined and bountiful menu of flat breads, soups, appetisers, Roman pizzas, salads, pasta, sides, risotto, mains and desserts, our water and table bread arrived. Knowing the Schiacciata e pane al forno Bianca (oven baked flat bread with sea salt, roasted garlic, rosemary and extra virgin olive oil) was the perfect Italian accompaniment/starter, we could not resist its crisp crust and bold flavour.
For mains we ordered:
Mum: Rialto Salad (warm chicken salad with mixed green leaves, semi-dried tomato, ricotta served with verde dressing and caramelised balsamic)
Dad: Gnocchi Bolognaise
Myself: Penne con salsicce (Penne with a ragu of pork, fennel and chilli sausage with lentils slow cooked in a tomato, herb and Lambrusco sauce)
The Chicken salad was monstrous, fresh and oozing with flavor. The Gnocchi, tender, with a traditional bolognaise sauce all Nona’s would be proud of - great flavor and volume. My penne pork sausage ragu was certainly tasty. The softer elements of fennel and chili shone through the sauce, and complemented the ‘Sticks’ Pinot Noir I drank with it. A touch of last minute fresh herbs would have been a welcomed improvement and unfortunately the Penne was cooked al dente, but wasn’t home-made. From sight it didn’t appear that the gnocchi was home-made either and as it’s not stipulated in the menu I would lean towards no. Understandably this is a difficult and time consuming practice, but there is certainly no substitute for the real thing and making it fresh would give the meal an extra level of Italian authenticity.
To close and compliment the meal we decided on some coffee. A double shot flat white and a double shot affogato with home-made vanilla bean ice cream. We ordered a trio of house made chocolates and were given a banana, a raspberry and a mandarin plate. I had sampled the banana before and mum wanted the mandarin, so I tried the raspberry which had a thick jam layer, just under the thin ‘Assaggio-branded’ chocolate crust, topping a truffle base.
Once again I felt a great vibe and contented joy when I left, knowing that I would be back. With a bill totaling just over $100, it was slightly more than expected for a lunch of flat bread, pasta, salad, 3 chocolates, mineral water and 2 glasses of wine, but Assaggio Campbelltown is certainly a welcoming, delicious and modern introduction to the eastern suburbs for a lunch.
Average Menu Pricing
Appetisers $9 - $16
Sides/Salads $7 - $19
Soups $9 - $15
Pasta/Risotto $16 - $24
Roman pizza $14 - $23
Main $24 - $28
Dessert $6 -$11 or $15pp for a stage plate
Where: 84 Newton Road Campbelltown SA 5074
Trading: Mon-Sun 11am to Late, open public holidays
Contact: 08 8336 5599
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