Unlike most businesses operating out of old black-and-white houses, Nosh (like its one-word predecessor Krish) is true to its homey roots. Enter through the tool shed, and wind your way through the library and kitchen, past the fireplace in the living room and the notice board full of lists and notes in the dining room. “Pasta Brava on Craig Road has the phatest, dopest ravioli”, says one. Good to know.
As enchanting as the interior is, we opted to eat in the greenhouse area, a large outdoor patio wisely covered by retractable canopies should a sudden downpour rudely join the party. Dinner begins with a beautifully-presented mango avocado ceviche of black cod, heirloom tomatoes and chillies ($18) followed by the plump, yet crisp plate of Maryland crab cakes embellished with red coconut curry and cucumber apple salad ($16). The almond and sesame crusted eggplant ($21) with portobello mushroom confit is enjoyable, but regrettably a tad oily. However, the tamarind marinated beef tenderloin ($33) is tender and perfectly cooked. Your inner child may want to order an upscale version of S’mores ($12), but let the adult in you take the lead – the toffee date cake with vanilla custard ($12) is absolutely fantastic.
This place definitely deserves a return visit. The prices are decent, the portions are big, and the scenery in Rochester Park is relaxing and comfortable. Just like home.
You’ll love it if: You yearn for a relaxed night at home, but don’t want to lift a finger to cook or clean.
Fearing that this avowedly casual version of OTTO Ristorante might be too heavy on pizza and pasta, I wasn’t that excited about trying OTTO Locanda. In fact, I came perilously close to spoiling my appetite with not one, but two, super-calorific macaroons with afternoon tea.
How lovely it was to be proved wrong. Though the smallish but nicely balanced menu is in keeping with the informal trattoria style of dining it promises, its execution by Chef Davide Fabiano is anything but casual.
Proscuitto di Parma ($24) is served with compressed rock melon infused with black pepper; the creamy and subtle mousse of the Venetian salt cod baccalà mantecato ($24) is paired wonderfully with a crunchy, oven-baked polenta crisp; melanzane alla Parmigiana ($20) – Davide’s mama’s recipe, featured on all his menus, he says – is juicy with beefy-rich tomatoes, the aubergines fried in advance and left to drain overnight for a lighter, healthier result.
Highlights from the primi section included a fantastically tasty risotto alla Parmigiana, the distinctive flavour of the cheese gorgeously balanced by that of the Parma ham encasing the entire risotto; and hearty linguini with seafood all’ Scoglio ($30), served in a paper parcel.
On to the secondi. In a trattoria, you mightn’t expect the fillet of salmon al vapore ($34) with lemon and vegetables to be prepared sous-vide, but so it was, and superbly succulent too; nor a fillet of Malabar dentice to be artfully wrapped in freshly made “potato spaghetti” before pan-frying. Red-wine-braised lamb stinchetto ($34) was slow-cooked to stickiness and served with soft polenta and vegetables.
After all that – and despite my greedy teatime interlude with the macaroons – I still devoured the meringata ($12), a sphere of super-light creamy, meringuey deliciousness encasing an ambrosial confection of herbs, egg yolk and a dash of Frangelico, the whole thing floating on a sea of warm chocolate – a far cry from the menu’s prosaic-sounding “slice of meringue”. Casual? Bah!
The ambience is sophisticated yet friendly, the service attentive, and the wine a reasonable $70 to $108 per bottle. Prosecco, white, red and dessert wines are available by the glass ($15 to $16). Best of all, OTTO Locanda is in lovely Maxwell Chambers, an early 1930s heritage building with huge kerb-appeal that was once the Customs House.
You’ll love it if: You’re a fan of authentic yet inspired Italian dishes.