Sunday, 15 June 2008

criniti's southern italian cuisine

Published in Time Out Sydney

291 Church St
Parramatta NSW 2150
Phone (02) 9635 0311

Southern Italians are known for several qualities. Amongst these are short tempers and passionate dispositions.

Fortunately there are no short tempers on display here, but the thing you'll notice immediately about Criniti's is that they wear their passion on their sleeves. And on the walls. It reads like a who's who of best-loved sporting and film personalities; signed soccer balls encased in perspex on the ceiling, Ferrari memorabilia, signed Soprano’s cast photos and by far the best feature; a huge painting of ‘The Last Supper’ (the Criniti version), featuring Al Pacino's Scarface, Marlon Brando's Godfather and select cast from the Sopranos and Goodfellas.

Criniti's passion extends no further than its food. The extensive Southern Italian-focused menu stays true to its roots with lots of tomato and olive oil-based dishes, grilled seafood and the most famous of all Southern Italian food, pizza.

The pasta menu offers a range of classic favourites and southern specialties such as Aglio Olio - pasta dressed in virgin olive oil, basil and parsley, served with prawns and chilli. The quality of the ingredients was impressive, the pasta was perfectly aldente and the prawns were generous, both in size and quantity.

Our Pizza Azzuri arrives next – thinly based (the Neapolitan way) with proscuitto, mushrooms, artichokes, bocconcini and fresh ricotta. The toppings are generous which proves slightly problematic when trying to pick up a slice, as they seem to want to slide off.

In between courses, we notice several other tables ordering the grain-fed ribs with ‘homemade secret-recipe sauce’. If you happen to be in a group of 3 or more, do try them. Why not less than 3? They're huge. Fred Flintstone huge. In fact most of the dishes here are more than generously proportionate and are suited to sharing amongst several people.

The Seafood Spiedino - skewered seafood (prawns, squid, octopus and scallops), char grilled and served with salad, chips and garlic aioli - looks as impressive as it tastes. The seafood has a great charred flavour and the baby octopus is marinated in balsamic vinegar, giving it a tangy lift. Other than that, there are no other spices, letting the flavour of the seafood take the lead.

With most dishes around $24-34 for very generous proportions, it is a great venue for groups of 4 or more – this restaurant is designed for relaxed sharing amongst family and friends.