By Koray Hussein
For some reason I’ve always had a weird relationship with Italian food. I love Italian style pasta and I would quite happily marry a woman made out of Neapolitan margherita pizza. Yet, I cannot remember the last time I purposely went out “for some Italian”.
It never happens.
Go out for burgers? Sure. A curry? You’re damn right! A kebab? Are you shitting me?! I’ve even bit my lip thinking about those barely edible hot dogs you see outside football stadiums on more than one occasion. But Italian? Nope. Never had the urge. This may have something to do with the fact that I used to date an Italian and I’m yet to taste any ragú or bolognese that comes close to her’s (and I’ve been to Rome).
Even when I did end up at Attilio, I didn’t go out with the intent of eating Italian food. It was a (mostly) pleasant surprise that we ended up there.
I was out one night with a few friends and we were actually walking over to Tinseltown on St John Street when we stumbled across the place. It was practically empty but as it was almost eleven o’clock we didn’t take that as a bad sign and thought we’d have a look.
We were greeted by an instantly likeable waiter with a massive smile and friendly Italian accent. He seated us outside, flicked on the overhead heater and shot out a quick (but apparently forgettable) joke before heading inside to grab us some menus.
Attilio was off to a good start and we hadn’t even locked eyes on food yet.
Our waiter returned with the menu along with some assorted olives, olive oil and bread. Nothing to rave about but in no way horrible.
We all scanned the menu and after a few minutes had decided what we were getting. I almost instantly settled on the fettuccine and meatballs and, much to my annoyance, two of my three friends had also decided on the same thing. The other went for a tuna steak with chips.
The food arrived pretty sharpish to be fair. I’m not sure whether that was just their standard waiting time or if, since the small hand had now ticked past eleven, they were just trying to get the food out so that we’d shove it into our faces and get out.
To be completely honest the food was slightly confusing. The pasta tasted fresh and was perfectly cooked and the tomato sauce was also super tasty… But the meatballs? They were kinda blergh. Too tightly compressed and almost flavourless the meatballs completely stood out on the plate, and not in a good way.
It was kind of disappointing; had the meatballs been even average the meal would have been saved by the pasta and sauce and would have been really enjoyable. Unfortunately they weren’t, and the entire meal suffered because of them.
The tuna steak and chips had a similar issue (according to my friend). The steak was tasty (and quite a decent size) yet the chips were just your normal standard chips and nothing to write home about.
Despite the meatballs, I’d definitely return to Attilio and probably choose one of their veggie options. I think I remember seeing something on the list that mentioned cheese sauce and mushrooms. I’d recommend the restaurant purely on the strength of their pasta and sauce but would advise to stay away from the meat balls.
Have you been to Attilio? Or is there another Italian place that I should want to, but never actually visit? Please let us know in the comments below!