[invite] – Bianca: There’s much to be said for Allegra Dining on Danks st, Waterloo. Serving contemporary modern Italian food in a minimalist fit-out. Obviously, the flavours are all very familiar to us and being spoilt by my grandparents cooking over the years, we’re hard pressed to find Italian food that truly impresses us.
Firstly, Allegra is definitely subverting the typical traditional flavours we know and love. Perhaps, more in line with the experimental stylings of Lumi and Acme and for a modern Italo/Aussie, it’s pretty exciting!
Bread with ALTO olive oil butter, smoked salt $3pp is a must, I can wax lyrical about bread for days (okay, maybe minutes) and the amaze butter with olive oil really tipped this over the edge to something special. I’m a big advocate for salt on bread/butter and the smoked salt really just added a whole other dimension.
The Puffed Tapioca w/smoked trout & roe $4ea probably wouldn’t have been my first pick. The trout was strong in flavour but the mouse was light and creamy. The bursts of roe were textually interesting but ultimately too intense a flavour for this usually seafood averse girl.
Guaranteed you haven’t had a Burrata dish quite like Allegra’s Vanella Burrata –w/ artichokes, zucchini, potato crumbs & bottarga $22. Starting at the top, the burrata was incredibly creamy and not that runny creamy you find with some cheeses, it held its shape very well, making it easier to consume and no wastage. Bottarga is listed on the menu but correct me if I’m wrong but I didn’t see nor taste any of the discernible fish roe. BUT, the most interesting aspect. The potato chips, adding such a unique quite intense saltiness, fantastic texture and flavour.
Pasta is generally the live or die, tell-tale sign for any Italian restaurant, so we settled on two pasta dishes a main and a side to round out the rest of the savouries. The first being the Rigatoni Verdi –w/chilli, pork sausage and egg yolk $24. Rocket and watercress give the dough its vibrant green colour. The pasta cooked al-dente, this dish simply put, sings! Once the yolk is tossed through the pasta, it creates a light creamy sauce. With a bold kick, thanks to the chilli, the peppery pork sausage whilst a little tough was full of flavour. This was the universal favourite dish on the night. Strong recommendation for this one!
The Raviolini –w/ buffalo blue cheese, dried figs, radicchio and crumble $24 was the dish I was most looking forward to. With intriguing flavours and ingredients. The edges were ever so slightly undercooked. This dish is sweet, there are no two ways about it and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Old school wogs might struggle with the flavour profile. The blue cheese filling was fragrant and on the mild side (in comparison with some bold blues). The spiced bread crumble, flavour wise, was like Christmas personified. But I struggled with the texture, had it been crisp like a breadcrumb opposed to chewy/ squeaky it would have been far more enjoyable. The dried figs added a mild fruity spiciness. It was really a dish that was evocative of the festive season. I will also mention, that prices were very reasonable for the portion size.
We shared the Rangers Valley Flank, puffed tendon, eggplant, mustard seed and wasabi cress $38 succulent and tender flank steak, cooked perfectly. We’ve had a good run of beef dishes recently and we can add this one to the list. Alex likened this to ‘tasting like a church’. It did have that sort of incense(y) smell and flavouring to the dish but I really enjoyed every element. There was a smokiness to both the eggplant pieces and puree. And the mustard seeds allowed you to add a dose of sharpness to each bite as you saw fit. The Shoestring fries, rosemary and burnt butter $7 were probably unnecessary but worth the calories… with the rosemary keeping things interesting.
And on to the best part of most meals. We were intending on ordering 2 desserts which is why we were more conservative than usual with our initial ordering. But they also brought us a ‘palate cleanser’ but I believe an incarnation of this dish is also available on the menu. Honeydew melon Granita – w/coconut sorbet & lime. I was actually taken aback by how much I loved this dish. The chunks of fresh melon added a lovely texture juxtaposed with the icy granita. The coconut sorbet was the ultimate highlight, full of concentrated flavour and as a complete uniform bite the dish was light and fruity.
And then it descended into madness. Tiramisu w/ Zokoko chocolate $14 rivals our Zia’s and Vanessa’s. And theirs is a pretty damn good one. What sets this tiramisu apart is the quality of the chocolate and what we assumed to be chocolate pop rocks, as they burst in the mouth once they melted. The chocolate was bitter and intense. With the exact precise proportions of coffee and liquor to balance the flavours. If there was any criticism, there was just slightly too much mascarpone for my tastes.
And finalmente, Shaved reypenaer VSOP, mascarpone, torte, hazelnute, honey date $14 which really just sounds like a bunch of rando ingredients slapped together on a plate. The nut torte cake in itself was very moist. I think the word most used when we discussed this dish was ‘interesting’. The parmesan was really the main element that weirded us out, obviously cheese in some desserts work. Whether it did here was somewhat contentious. I liked the saltiness the cheese added but it was perhaps too experimentive for us.
We left thoroughly impressed with the food at Allegra. We have family in the area and have already recommended they check them out. And I’m sure we’ll be back!
Photos by Alex
*For Food’s Sake dined as guests of Allegra but all opinions our own and independent.