Posts Tagged ‘italian’

Provincia, Albert Park – Honest, Unpretentious Italian

ProvinciaAfter being disappointed with the cheap italian feel that was Basilico in Albert Park I was certainly expecting something good from the unpretentious restaurant serving local style italian dishes that Provincia advertisers itself as. The food lived up to this expectation, it was good, honest, well presented and represented the flavours of provincial italy with class.

The space isn’t big, it is dominated by the bar and it’s ceiling-high wine rack and spirits shelves. The room is dark, with most of the light provided by tea lights set on each table and a few muted hanging and wall lights. There isn’t many tables, all set out around the perimeter of the space with settings for 2 or 4. The dining room is intimate and almost unwelcoming for a group of 4, but perfect for a dinner of 2. Unfortunately our table was in front of the door and each time the door we felt an unwelcome gust of cold Melbourne night.

Inside Provincia, Albert Park The service is as you would expect, perhaps a little too keen as I struggled to finish my whole glass of water before our waiter topped it up. I was disappointed with their wine service though. After we had ordered our meals we asked for a wine recommendation and the waiter told us that a particular wine was a nice italian variety. This has happened a couple of times recently and perhaps I’m not asking right, but I want to know what $60-100 bottle of wine will go nicely with our meals.

The menu consists of a variety of italian dishes under the premise of being each from provincial Italy. Beside most of the dishes is noted the area the dishes are from. The prices around the $30 mark and the quality of the food is easily worth it. The wine list is mostly international and as you would expect the majority are Italian. The bottles start at around $50 which seems a little excessive, perhaps they could provide a cheaper entry-level.

Negroni, Provincia

The Negroni was on the money. Personally I prefer a slightly more vermouth heavy Negroni but nonetheless it was a great start to the proceedings.

Pear, Gorgonzola and Walnut Bruschetta

The pear, gorgonzola and walnut bruschetta was an ordering afterthought but was amazing. Mild flavours accentuating each other all capped off with the texture and flavour of walnut. Brilliant.

Grilled Porterhouse and Mushrooms, Provincia

This great sized piece of porterhouse was cooked perfectly and served with grilled field mushrooms. It was a great piece of meat, cooked well, what more is there to say?

Bork Belly, Provincia This roasted pork belly with a coriander salad reminded me more of a chinese-style pork belly, yet further research suggests it is just as italian as chinese. Fatty, crisp, tasty, perfect.

Pasta at Provincia

I didn’t taste this pasta, but it certainly looked great.

Lamb at Provincia

This slow-braised lamb shoulder was exquisite, melt-in-your-mouth lamb with root vegetables. This was always going to be a winner for me as it’s one of my favourite dishes. It didn’t last long on the plate.

Pannacotta, Provincia

The pannacotta was lovely and rich yet not overly sweet with the Campari reduction adding the necessary sweetness and orange flavour.

Self Saucing Pudding, Provincia

While the meals across the board were exceptional, this stole the show. The chocolate self saucing pudding with vanilla-bean icecream was heavenly. The chocolate sauce was thick and rich. The texture of the icecream was subtly granular and the vanilla flavour prominent. The dark and light flavours work so well next to each other.

Provincia on Urbanspoon

Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe

This post is part of an ongoing series about dinner ideas.

Spaghetti BologneseSpaghetti Bolognese is the most Australian-Italian recipe there is. It is a staple in nearly every university student’s diet, taught by their mother with instructions something along the lines of, “This is cheap, good for you and you can freeze it for a rainy day!” Cheap it is, with enough food to feed 4 or 5 well clocking in under $15. It is so easy it is almost a case of throwing all the ingredients in a pot, boiling some pasta and serving.

The actual Italian authenticity of this recipe is doubtful. It has almost certainly been bastardised by lazy, homely cooking techniques, but one thing is for certain, it never fails to please. It is easy and almost impossible to go wrong with and there are so many ways to modify and improve this recipe.

Ingredients, to serve 4

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-large onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 500g good quality mince
  • 2 tins of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 200ml of stock, beef or vegetable
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of vegemite
  • Fresh or dried basil, parsley, oregano, thyme
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 red capsicum, diced
  • 2 handfuls of swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 500g homemade pasta (spaghetti) or 300g of dry pasta
  • 1 block parmesan cheese


Spaghetti Bolognese Over a medium heat in a deep frying pan, cook onions till they are clear in the olive oil, add the garlic and cook for about a minute. With the onions and garlic, fry the mince until it is brown. Stir into the mince the tomatoes, stock, tomato paste, vegemite and finally the herbs (the more the merrier). Let this simmer for approximately 10 minutes, before adding the carrot, capsicum and mushrooms. Cover and simmer for a minimum 10 or more minutes, the longer the better.

Cook the pasta with a liberal amount of salt, strain and 5 minutes before serving add to the sauce and stir in. This step is important as the pasta absorbs the flavours in the sauce and makes the meal that much better.

Serve in a deep bowl with cracked pepper, rock salt and a generous serving of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Wine Pairing

This meaty, tomato sauce is best eaten with an earthy, spicy, medium bodied red such as a young Cabernet Merlot, Sangiovese or Pinot Noir. Notes of tobacco, leather and dark cherries will complement but not overpower the rich tomato flavours. There is no need to overspend as most recent releases of these varieties will probably be suitable. Read the label and if the winemakers notes agree the wine will be great.