Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 10: Cafe Cavillino and a visit to Regent Theatre

After we spent saturday sipping on malibu pineapples all night long at Melbourne's infamous nightclub SEVEN that is popular with the local Asian community we managed to crawl out of bed and make it to the 1.00 p.m. broadway musical we had bought tickets for. We were super lucky to score tickets in row 13 just three days before the actual show. At AU$ 113 the show was marvellous and completely worth every cent.

The show featured unbelievable sets, breathtaking special effects, elaborate costumes, brilliant calibre of acting and singing and on the whole blew me away!

The musical was on at the Regent Theatre which is in the CBD of Melbourne. The theatre features exquisite Victorian architecture with wonderfully carved columns. Unfortunately photography was prohibitted so these pictures are not the best as they were taken on the sly!

Ozmopolitions! Wicked is a take on the Wizard of Oz - so therefore if you're wondering why the word play?! And the plastic martini glasses glow in the dark!!!

After the musical we grabbed a late lunch and coffee at a neaby cafe before indulging in a couple of frozen daiquiris squeezed out a slush machine at the Crown. At $5 this Kiwi Kiss you don't pay much attention to detail - but I'm totally diggin the neon ! And then it was time for dinner...

The race is as good as won when you have a fabulous pizza recipe ...

Living in the information age choosing the perfect restaurant is only a click away. Eateries are usually classified according to price range and include a brief on the restaurant, with additional links to the restaurant’s website and contact information. While our reliance on the internet is an inherent part of modern life the widespread exchange of information has been the cause for a standardisation in overall dining experiences.

In a bid to follow the formulaic success of middle to upmarket restaurants, cute little sidewalk cafes, lively pubs, bistros and mom-and-pop diners have traded individualism for a generic, sterile approaches. A contrived notion of what the restaurant should be has given way to a breed of middle range copycat restaurants with long winded and unnecessarily complicated menus. Indistinguishable, offering a commercialised, impersonal and entirely forgettable experience, several wannabe restaurants are ultimately lost in the pages of dining directories.

Lygon Street of the ‘70’s was a truly quaint Italian suburb with a sprinkling of ristorantes serving up hearty portions of lasagne and glasses of Chianti. Today much has changed - the simpler rustic charm of yester-year Lygon has given way to glitzy fine dining establishments that line both sides of the street. Stumbling upon Café Cavallino was altogether refreshing. The little pizzeria is immediately inviting and characteristically Italian. Unlike the majority of eateries today Cavallino remains one of the few places that offers neither an online menu nor reviews; merely contact details in the yellow page listing. Testament to their extensive menu, two pages dedicated solely to pizza and pasta, hang beside a window that reveals stacks of freshly made bases, homemade sauces and roaring wood oven. Tantalized by the irresistible wafting aromas of freshly baked pizza you soon find yourself walking in to claim your very own slice.

Spicy Salami Pizza with Kalamata Olives

Cinqo Fromaggio and Marinara with Squid, Prawns and Clams

Ravioli with Portobello Mushrooms & Feta in Cream Sauce

Veggie Canneloni stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach served in a really tasty, fresh homemade tomato sauce seasoned with earthy Italian herbs.

Cavallino’s interiors scream personality: kitted in red sports memorabilia with racing flags, suits and model cars – the owner, undoubtedly a formula one enthusiast and Ferrari fan. Quintessential red chequered tablecloths set the scene for the arrival of the most fabulous pizza in town at unbelievable prices. Choose from pizzas in 9 inch ($12 approx) or 12 inch ($17 approx) and the pasta dishes as either entrées or mains and prepare to be wowed. At this point the protective plastic laminate over the tablecloth sticks to your elbows while you peruse the wine list, a definite downer. Regional Australian wines are well represented, although I opted for a $4 glass of house Merlot, which was bold, yet balanced the pasta and pizza.

The Cinco Formaggio featuring mild mozzarella, robust parmesan, provolone, catupiry – a unique Brazilian cream cheese and punctuated by the buttery gorgonzola is a must have. Another favourite is the Spicy Salami with Kalamata Olives that hits all the right spots in keeping with the tenets of a good pepperoni pizza. Ravioli stuffed with earthy Portobello Mushrooms offset by a delicately, smooth feta puree, coated in a creamy white sauce enlivened with thyme and basil proved to be a real winner. A simple but well executed Spinach Ricotta Cannelloni in a homemade herbed tomato sauce was popular with the table, although personally speaking it was rather dull and could have used a bit of garlic and peppercorns to lift the overall dish.

In true Italian style the evening was rounded off with a shot of hot black espresso. I left sated and smug with my penchant for picking a good restaurant.

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