Venue - Roberto's
Cuisine - Italian
Address - 428 Bridge Road, Richmond
Tel : 9428 3845
Hours : Open Mon-Sun 4-Late And they do take away.
Price: around $25 for shared Pizza and Main Pasta
Just cruise on down if you want to go. They are most accommodating.
Back when I was a troubled teenager giving my parents grief by forming punk bands, sneaking into nightclubs and growing my hair into dreadlocks, I was also a vegetarian. In order to make up for some of the grey hairs I caused my parents, I was often called in to work for them. Luckily for me they weren't butchers, and there was even a brief shining moment in my father's not always illustrious career when he was employed as a food critic.
Being the proud carnivorous Kiwi man that he is, and never one to miss an opportunity involving free steak and lamb's brains, my father needed someone unafraid to order the vegetarian dishes, in order to be able to give his vegetarian readers the balanced reviewing they had become so used to by the early '90s.
So I got to be his 'Vegetarian Daughter'. My father's name for me up in shining lights! The naive opinions of 'Vegetarian Daughter' were duly stolen and printed in the magazine or newspaper shortly thereafter.
So it is with much joy and delight that I now get to write my own words, for printing on our own esteemed blog, and therefore I christen this, my first review, with a review of a vegetarian meal.
The Italians occasionally understand the need for an all vegetarian meal, and this meal at Roberto's did not disappoint. The owner is the son of another Richmond local, a bottle shop owner whose small business could not compete when Dan Murphy's moved in. Being raised in Richmond, he felt the need to create a restaurant of his own in his home suburb. And you can tell. There is none of the glitz and glamour of the newcomers to the inner-city. Roberto's is smart but thoroughly unpretentious, much like my companions for the evening. It's like one of those friends who gives you a much needed kick back down to earth when your head starts to swell, and is definitely about content over style.
Not to say that it's not stylish. Far from it. The decor is simple and smart, and there are none of the unfortunately over-popular ugly, garish paintings (always done by unknown 'well-known local artists') that too many restaurants stick on their walls in an attempt to appear cultured. If you don't know art, and you can't afford to hire someone who does, it's better to have plain white walls.
The atmosphere is light and friendly, the service fairly attentive (although they could have been a bit more attentive towards our wine bottles) and polite, and, apart from a slamming door that made the whole restaurant stop and stare at me on my return from the toilet, with the added bonus of my table pronouncing me a 'drama queen' (what did I say about the kick back down to earth?), the night was easy and relaxed.
We started with a pizza; simple, traditional Italian style, a margarita with fresh herbs. A thin crust, generously sized, it was delicious and went beautifully with our bottle of Marlborough Sauvingon Blanc (what else would one expect from a table of 5 New Zealanders?).
For the main course I had the Vegetable Fettucine (as a bonus you can choose your own kind of pasta, I adore restaurants where you can do this), in a Napoli Sauce, which was full of many different sorts of vegetables and fresh herbs in a proper tomato Napoli. Again, a generoso molto with regards to size. The pasta was aldante, the parmagiano plentiful, and no annoying waiter persons appeared brandishing giant pepper grinders and asking with the enthusiasm of an eager to please Irish Setter 'Cracked pepper? cracked pepper?'. (I'm sure I will be writing more about this annoying, conversation interrupting trend). This was a little bit of the real Italy, in dirty ol'Richmond.
My only criticism would be the lack of entree sized pastas. Not everyone can eat that much in one sitting, even food-obsessed bloggers. In particular one of our group, whose a wee little thing, and we wanted to taste both the pizza and the pasta as they are both well worth trying. In fact there wasn't much at all in way of entrees, and my wee friend had to suffice with an entree plate of calamari (which she nonetheless pronounced to be very good).
One of my other companions, who is a chef, had the stuffed pollo. This he eventually, (once he took a brief pause from eating), pronounced very tasty, in his esteemed opinion, and noted the unusual addition of sundried tomatoes in the stuffing.
It wasn't Italy 1, but it was a far cry from La Porchetta. If you're looking for decent pizza and pasta at a reasonable price, in a nice environment, check it out before everyone else discovers it.