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Provini: step into Nonna’s house

Amanda Whitley

Before I was a Canberran, I was a Riverina girl. My family resides in Griffith – an oasis of amazing food and wine in the middle of, well, pretty much nowhere. It’s a country town unlike any other; teeming with wineries, sophisticated clothing boutiques, more hair and beauty salons than you can poke a GHD at, and amazing places to eat. Around 60 per cent of the population hails from Italy, making it an incredibly cosmopolitan place where ‘ciao’ is heard as often as ‘hello’.

Perhaps the most enduring restaurant in town is La Scala, a subterranean pizzeria and ristorante that hasn’t seen new decor since it opened over 30 years ago. It’s unapologetically kitsch – from the murals of the old country on the wall to the practical-not-pretty furniture – and the food is out of this world. I love it.

And, so, after taking one step into CoCu Group’s about-to-open Italian eatery, Provini, (rather ironically, on the site of the old Canberra La Scala restaurant), I was immediately homesick.

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Provini’s front dining area and bar adjoins the large woodfire pizza oven.

 

“Provini celebrates Italy and pays homage to the original La Scala,” says CoCu Group, promising to take you back in time, into Nonna’s house.

It’s a warm and inviting interior which captures the Italian restaurants of my hometown, where “exposed brick walls pay homage to the building’s history, printed carpet and wallpaper clash beautifully, gold brass handles adorn the doors, with touches of silver and gold speckled among the different lighting variations.”

Stepping into Provini is just like a visit to Nonna's house.

Stepping into Provini is just like a visit to Nonna’s house.

 

But the home-style Italian vibe extends past the fitout. Provini will offer a traditional Italian menu crafted by Executive Chef Wayne Alger: wood fired pizza, handmade pastas and great quality salumi. Neapolitan Pizzaiolo Giovanni is in charge of the in-house wood fired oven, serving authentic pizza and traditional desserts.

A peek at the menu reveals all the staples you’d expect to find on the table at Nonna’s – a selection of antipasto, pizza and pasta, meat and poultry dishes, salads and dolce; but a closer look at the descriptions reveals a sophisticated hand and attention to quality ingredients.

Marinated octopus, potato and herb salad.

Marinated octopus, potato and herb salad.

Instead of the typical beef carpaccio for Il Primo, there’s a dish of wafer thin slices of Smoked Venison, with vinegar and pine nuts; gorgonzola is given a starring role – fried and served with roast pumpkin and bread – and sits alongside dishes of polpette, minestrone and marinated octopus, potato and herb salad.

There’s a small but interesting offering of wood fired pizza and pasta dishes, where old favourite Spaghetti Carbonara nestles comfortably next to a more adventurous Risotto Di Barbabietolle – beetroot risotto with three milk cheese and horseradish.

An impresssive selection of wines has been curated by sommelier Peter Bell.

An impresssive selection of wines has been curated by sommelier Peter Bell.

 

Opening in the depths of winter, Provini’s hearty fare is sure to warm bellies, with dishes like Veal Osso Bucco with soft polenta and gremolata and an indulgent Tiramisu perfect for cold nights. But come summer, it’s the generous front terrace that will surely be the magnet; it’s just begging for al fresco drinks.

Warm chocolate tart, arancello gelato.

Warm chocolate tart, arancello gelato.

It’s bellissimo!

the essentials

What: Provini
Where: 50 Bunda Street, Canberra City
When: Lunch – Sunday to Friday, 12pm until 2.30pm; Dinner – Sunday to Monday 5.30pm until late.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 6154 9720
Web:  cocu.com.au/provini

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her ‘spare time’, she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She’s done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women.

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