I know what you're thinking, a great restaurant in Bondi Junction, aren't all the good restaurants down at Bondi Beach, doesn't it just have a huge shopping centre there. Well we've discovered a gem on Bronte Road, Osteria Riva.
Formerly known as Amarcord, Osteria Riva's part owner and chef, Andrea Riva, is cooking up authentic dishes from the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, where he and the other two owners, hail from.
It was a miserable night in Bondi, cold and with the rain lashing, we were glad to be welcomed by a warm cosy restaurant and friendly wait staff. Cracking open a bottle of Wombat Crossing 2005 Shiraz, we pondered over the menu, which is cleverly printed onto the placemats. Daily specials are up on the blackboard.
The menu and specials board feature mainly fresh homemade pastas, however there are a few meat and fish dishes to choose from. For starters we ordered the Antipasto della Casa, a selection of Italian cured meats and cheeses, and the Deep Fried Mozzarella with Proscuitto (minus the proscuitto for me as I'm a veggie!). The cold meats and cheeses were accompanied by caramelised onions and bread. It looked like a substantial amount for a starter but Kevin seemed to devour it with no problems only coming up for air occasionally for a sip of his wine. My deep fried mozzarella was OK, it is what it is. It would have been nice if the proscuitto could have been replaced with some salad leaves just to give a different taste and texture to the dish. That's the price I pay though for being a veggie.
For mains we had the Tagliata di Manzo al Balsamico, chargrilled beef with a balsamic reduction, and Raviola Ricotta a Spinaci al Burro and Salvia, spinach and ricotta filled pasta with butter and sage. Kevin's beef looked amazing, cooked medium rare, it was tender and juicy. The balsamic reduction offers a sweetness and the accompanying rocket and parmesan salad complimented the dish. The side order of roasted potatoes went down a treat as well. My pasta was beautifully cooked - it's such a delight to have freshly made pasta, you forget how much better it tastes. It didn't look like a huge portion on the plate but I was struggling to finish it due to the richness of the butter - and of course I had to leave room for dessert.
Speaking of desserts, we both went for dishes off the specials board. I had been told by a work colleague that I must have the mascapone cream and Kevin went for the nutella tart, sprinkled with nuts and accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. They were both to die for. The mascapone cream had grated chocolate on top and little biscuit croutons to dip in - yum. Kevin's tart was very dense and rich, with that great hazelnut flavour - beautiful.
Feeling suitably satisfied, we finished off our wine and asked for the bill. The waiter appears with not only the bill but some homemade Limoncello, an Italian lemon liquor. It was very refreshing after drinking red wine and capped off a fantastic meal.
As we stepped out onto the street we both commented on what a great homely feel this restaurant has and the people of Bondi should feel lucky they have such a wonderful local Italian restaurant on their doorstep. Can't wait to come again.
Do you have a favourite local restaurant?
Osteria Riva, 96 Bronte Road, Bondi Junction
Tel: 02 9369 4071
Opening hours: Lunch: Fri-Sun: 12noon-3pm; Dinner: Daily 6pm-10pm