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Italian & Sons (Canberra) August 12, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Canberra, Food, Reviews, Travel.
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This photo has been brightened -- it's a lot darker than this at night

From what I’ve heard, there is only a handful of great restaurants in Canberra.  Not surprising really, considering how awfully tiny the place is.  One of the so-called ‘must-visit’ places is Italian & Sons, a super popular Italian joint that you must reserve to get a table on most nights.

Italian & Sons is located at 7 Lonsdale Street in the suburb of Braddon, very close to the big shopping centre in the retail district of town.  One would think it would be easy to find, but it’s not.  Because there are no obvious signs outside the restaurant (apart from a few tiny scribbles on the dark glass) and it’s dimly lit inside, we drove by several times without even noticing the restaurant.  If the same happens to you, don’t despair.  Just follow the street numbers and you’ll find it.

Inside, Italian & Sons is warm and cozy, with wooden furniture, an open pizza bar and friendly waiters clad in white aprons.  The menu is simple (and can be found at their website, here), with an assortment of antipasti, meats (affettati), pastas, pizzas and main courses (one for every day of the week, except Sunday, when they are closed).  Of course, they also have a few ‘daily specials’.  Additionally, they have the usual — sides, salads, desserts and cheeses — more than enough for one massive meal.

My Canberra resident friend informed me that their pizzas were good, but the real delights of Italian & Sons are their other dishes, especially the mains and specials.  Nevertheless, we went with an assortment of dishes.  Here’s what we ordered:

The wood fired garlic focaccia was one of the highlights, especially with that dipping oil

This was a special -- a double-barrelled pasta with veal ragu and olives in a spicy tomato sauce

An amazing side dish -- the Peperonata -- pan fried peppers, onions and potatoes

The Diavolo Pizza -- salami, fried peppers, chilli and roast garlic

Last but not least, dessert -- a flourless chocolate torte with orange and pistachio gelato

The taste of Italian & Sons can be described as ‘authentic’ Italian.  The dishes are simple, not overly delicate and infused with strong flavours.  Some might consider it a little on the salty side but having had plenty of ‘authentic Italian’ over the years it’s nothing out of the ordinary.  The wood baked garlic focaccia was splendid and I really enjoyed the Peperonata side dish (loved the peppers) and the veal pasta (the chilli and olives gave it a real kick).  While the pizza was also quite good, I have tasted better elsewhere.  I guess my friend was right when he said the mains and specials were the best — and this was backed up by what I saw on other tables.

In all, it was still a pleasant meal.  Among the better Italian restaurants I’ve experienced in Australia, though not one of the best.  For Canberra, it’ll have to do.

8 out of 10

Italian & Sons
7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, ACT 2600
Phone: +61 2 6162 4888
Lunch: Tues – Fri
Dinner: Mon – Sat
Price range: expect around $35-50 per person, not including drinks 

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