One of my fave foodie memories of Canberra on my last visit was dining at Agostini’s Italian, the food was superbly thought out and the atmosphere vibrant and most of all the passion and care that Chef Francesco Balestrieri oozes is palpable.
During the recent northern summer, Chef Francesco accompanied owner Dion Bisa on a gastronomic tour of Italy, gathering inspiration for the new season’s menu and enjoying the authentic ingredients and dishes of his native country. Together they visited the fresh produce markets of Rome, frequented the secret little pizza joint in Venice favoured by the local gondoliers, and visited Gianni Brunelli’s Brunello vineyard in Tuscany, the source of one of Agostinis’ favourite wines.
They sampled Tuscan wild boar prosciutto, Roman porcini mushrooms and soft summer truffles, fabulous fresh Venetian seafood and dark cereal flour tagliatelle in Bologna. So taken was Francesco with this pasta that he is currently making it from scratch at Agostinis, the only restaurant in Canberra where guests can experience it.
Carpaccio di Manzo
Inspired by the famous dish created by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, super thinly sliced Tasmanian eye fillet is rolled with pink pepper and served with jalapeno, radish and roquette, providing a superb frisson between the meltingly tender beef and the spicy crunch of its accompaniment.
Pappardelle al Ragu d’Agnello
This dish combines lamb shoulder slow cooked in a white wine sauce for 12 hours with daily house-made pappardelle. Typical of spring fare from the Tuscan region, this light and flavourful dish is a classic.
Gnocchi con Ricotta
By using lemon-infused ricotta gnocchi instead of traditional potato, this dish is lighter in taste and consistency, making it the perfect spring dish. Served with fresh peas, asparagus and lightly salted ricotta, the gnocchi is house made daily.
Pancia di Maiale
Inspired by the roast pork of Bologna, locally sourced pork belly is slow cooked for 10 hours and served with a deliciously crispy skin, pumpkin purée and roast fennel, providing classic sweetness and crunch and a simple, strong balance of flavour.
Semifreddo al Pistacchio
This spectacular dessert is a tribute to the Bronte pistacchio, considered the best in the world. A soft, semi-frozen pistacchio ice cream is served with raspberry purée, fresh berries and candied pistacchios.
Torta al Caramello
Luxuriously decadent and not too sweet, slightly burnt caramel toffee is combined with a dark chocolate ganache on a short crust pastry base and served with crumbled Amaretto biscuit
To whet the pre-dinner appetite, Joe’s presents the ‘Art of the Aperitivi’, Italian tapas-style antipasto plates designed to snack on and accompany a glass of vino, aperitif or refreshing beer.
A small bar with a big vision, Joe’s Bar is designed by Kelly Ross with big, bold statement details that draw the eye, creating a sense of time and place that is akin to architectural storytelling. Joe’s Bar is an immersive experience that creates curiosity – a desire to sit, order a drink and explore the details. As the sun goes down, guests can sit at tables outside and enjoy the buzz or relax in the hotel lobby space and enjoy Joe’s attentive table service.
Wild Forage Gin + Tonic
An Italian twist on a Mexican classic, served with a spicy kick…
Chilli infused Aperol, tequila & grapefruit.
Mezcal Chocolate Old Fashioned
Challenge the taste buds with this super smooth VIDA Mezcal smoky, chocolate Old Fashioned.
So planning your next staycation then pop Canberra on your list, and make sure you pop in for a drink at Joe’s and Lunch or Dinner at Agostini’s …
Learn more about Agostinis and Joe’s Bar at:
Words by Editor Arrnott Olssen