I am generally not a huge fan of Italian food but ‘J’ loves it and decided we were going to try out newcomer, Provini, tonight. Expecting to be completely underwhelmed and uninspired, I didn’t take any photos of the food. Big mistake. Provini may be the best Italian that Canberra has to offer. So despite the lack of photos, I feel obligated to report back on the experience, albeit, in briefer form than usual.
We started off with the minestrone ($14), which boasted big chunks of carrot and zucchini and a tasty piece of crusty bread. This was one of the best minestrones I’ve ever had. It was a bit salty, but in that full flavoured, seasoned way. If you don’t like salt, it may not be for you, but I really enjoyed it.
I ordered the San Daniele pizza (tomato, fior di latte, roquette, prosciutto, parmesan, $24), and this was, by far, the best pizza we’ve had in Canberra. Not overloaded with cheese, fresh ingredients, and a base cooked to perfection, meaning just the right amount of smoky burnt bottom and poofy crust.
‘J’ ordered the veal osso bucco with polenta ($33). This is a bit out of our usual ordering habits so I don’t have much to compare it to, but the veal was incredibly tender and flavourful and paired well with the mild polenta. We really enjoyed this. Definitely a solid, worth-while dish.
‘A’ ordered the gnocchi (tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil, $26) and this was the only dish we weren’t wowed by. The gnocchi was made well and all the ingredients were fresh but the flavour was a bit bland compared to the other dishes and the serving size was small. It wasn’t bad; it just didn’t live up to the other dishes. I’d also recommend ordering it as a dish to share rather than as a meal.
We also order the bitter leaves salad off the Contori menu ($12) consisting of very large leaves cos and radicchio (I think) in a very light vinaigrette with faint hints of something citrus-y (maybe mandarin?). This was a nice side for those who like to add a bit of green to their meal.
There are a few different rooms in the restaurant, each with their own decorative styles. We were surrounded by a warm ’60s, almost Mad Men-esque feel, but could definitely see the Italian Grandma room from where we were. We were attended to by friendly, attentive staff. The dishes were pricey but not unreasonable, and comparable to most of the other Canberra Italian restaurants.
Bottom line: we will most definitely be back.