Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Sorbello’s Italian Restaurant – Mackay (Queensland)

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Garlic Prawn Fettucini - so good I am actually thinking about writing a letter to ask for the recipe.

Based on the main strip in downtown Mackay is Sorbello’s Italian Restaurant – a place that the locals will tell you is one of the oldest and best places to eat in town. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this when I picked a location for lunch and had a very disappointing meal a few hundred metres up the road. After such a letdown, I went back to my hotel for wifi (little to no roaming on Three in downtown Mackay) and logged into UrbanSpoon. Thankfully, there was Sorbello’s with a massive 100% like rating. Allbeit there weren’t hundreds of votes, ok there wasn’t even ten, but considering all the other local restaurants were under 50%, I figured it was a good bet.

On my way there for dinner, I mentioned to the hotel staff I was going to Sorbello’s – needless to say that is when I was informed that it was THE place to eat in town. I had decided to arrive just as the dinner guests would be finishing up, to get one of the last meals before the kitchen closed around 8pm. I had assumed (incorrectly) that Mackay on a Saturday night would be like a small regional town – Mackay smells like steak on Saturday night by the way.

I turned up at 7.45pm and it was packed.

Let me rephrase that – it was overflowing. There were people waiting at the bar for tables to open up, and every inch of table was being utilised. I spoke to Con (one of the Sorbello brothers who own the place), and he agreed to squeeze me in on a table in the bar around 8.30pm.

After a stroll by the river, I returned to find a table for me in the bar. I picked one of my staple wines – Vasse Felix CDW and perused the menu. OMG it is huge! I panicked when I saw how big it was – because generally, the bigger the menu (content not actual physical size) the worse the food. I slowly worked my way through the 100 or more choices, and finally settled on Natural Oysters followed by the Garlic Prawns Fettucini.

Delicious doesn’t cover the Fettucini. The prawns were cooked to perfection, the pasta not gluggy at all. Just spectacular. The oysters were fresh and huge – really huge, but not chewy. I finished up my bottle of wine, and grabbed one of their home made gelato for the stroll back to my hotel. The food itself would be a reason to return, but the service was outstanding – so much so I tipped 20%. When I left at 10.45pm the place was just under 50% full but there were more tables arriving – for deserts and coffees. Sorbello’s is open until midnight. Be aware though, it is closed on Public Holidays.

Pluses:
Central location.
Very fresh ingredients.
Amazing service.
Excellent wine list.
Impossible NOT to find something you want to order.
Huge serves – the entree sized pasta is plenty big for a main.
Great atmosphere – everyone was having a brilliant time (including the staff).

Minuses:
The chocolate gelato was OK, not chocolatey enough for me.
The fettucini was quite broken, so it wasn’t really long enough to twirl (do people in North Queensland eat it with a knife and fork?).

Sorbello’s Italian Restaurant reminds me of those great Italian restaurants we went to as kids. Real restaurants, not a chain, or trying to be upmarket wanky. A real restaurant that takes pride in fresh ingredients, real flavour and good service. I am back in Mackay in October and cannot wait to return – though this time I am booking!

#fourandahalffullpandas
Sorbello's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Howmanypandas Queensland restaurants

Review – Vapiano – Brisbane CBD

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Inviting but don't be fooled. Food is as bland as those pine boards. (Thanks to the lovely people at http://www.ourbrisbane.com/ for the pic - check them out)

I went in with an open mind, but I left with the book closed.

Located in Albert Lane, this restaurant sees a lot of traffic for its fast Italian menu. People talk about it for its unique price point management system, but that has been done to death and wasn’t the reason we finally made it to Vapiano’s. I had conflicting reports on this place, from loving it more than Vespa Pizza to thinking it was like eating at an aeroport.

I ordered the Verdure Pizza (roasted vegetables) and found it lacking. I was very hungry – as we hit Vapiano after the evening movie – so it was after 9pm before we arrived – but in this case, hunger wasn’t sauce enough to get this pizza over the line. Yes the food was fast, but it was nothing special. I didn’t want a meal that was cooked so fast that none of the flavour had a chance to infuse into the food. In fact the zucchini was still hard in places. My friends ordered pasta and while they both ate everything, neither thought it was outstanding. In fact one suggested that the Carbonara she gets from the hole in the wall place near her work was far superior.

Today I had a heap of reading to do, and I really wanted good quality tea to go with the experience – I didn’t bring any with me (foolishly). I had initially planned on the Tea Centre in Albert Lane, but it was very stuffy, even if the fans going. As I left I spied T2 canisters at Vapiano. Even though I had thought never to go there again, I really wanted good quality tea.

Even though there are T2 canisters on display, the tea was Madura. I have nothing against Madura tea, in fact I drink it regularly due to its reduced caffeine count, but if you are suggesting you are serving T2 tea (which is very high quality) but actually serve up a supermarket tea, I am going to have issues with you. When I asked why my tea wasn’t T2 yet in T2 canisters, the bar tender (my guess would be international student) grabbed the canister and disappeared out of sight. He came back with a large pot with actual T2 teabags in it, but obviously this was not the original plan. So heads up if you do go here and order tea.

To me, the tea sums up everything that I felt about Vapiano’s from my previous visit. It tries to be this super fresh and yummy medium to high quality (by the prices) restaurant. But it is really just low end food. Mutton dressed up as lamb.

Pluses:
Convenient location in Albert Lane.
Easy to split the bill.
Food comes fast, very fast.
Lollies when you pay your bill.

Minuses:
Food quality way below the price point.
Food taste way below the price point.
Misrepresentation of product.

I would recommend skipping Vapiano’s. There are far better options in the same or lower price point a short walk away. Even with jumping a taxi to China Town the meals will still be cheaper and better – I recommend Super Bowl.

UPDATE: I met a friend in the city yesterday and we headed to Vapiano because it was just easier. We had the prawn and chilli pasta and the ham and mushroom pizza. SO much better than my last two trips there. Still not great, but average. #twoandahalfupdatedpandas

UPDATE 2: Another friend I went after my last average but doable experience. This time it was back to woeful.  #onepanda

#oneandahalfpandasthatarereallybrownbearswithwhiteandblackpaintonthem

Vapiano on Urbanspoon
Howmanypandas Queensland restaurants