Have you ever been put in charge of booking a restaurant for a work or family get-together? I have. And it is a road paved with good intentions and beset with speed bumps that threaten to derail you from your best laid plans to please everybody.
There is the boss's wife who has decided to become gluten-free. Then there's Aunt Susie who might swell up and have to be hospitalised if her lips touch seafood. Then there is the resident vegan. You want to find a restaurant that will offer them more than an after-thought-plate-of-veggies.
The young people want cocktails and vibe and the mature want good value for money and a place where they can hear what the person next to them is saying.
Admittedly I didn't have to organise this event at Tazio Birraria Pizzeria Cucina an Italian Restaurant in the CBD. Just attend and write about it. But if I did have to organise such an event, or an office party or family get together, this restaurant would be right up there on the top of my list.
Firstly there is the way the restaurant is set up. Tazio's design has a number of a split levels with a few steps in between each. We were upstairs in an area that caters for large groups (there were 24 of us). There was another large party down a few steps and at the complete other end of the vast room. But we never felt that the other group impinged on our terrain and the noise level never got out of hand as it does in so many other restaurants. So, that was tick number one in the right box.
The last thing you want at any function is for the courses to come out so speedily so that the evening ends too early. Tazio took care to stagger the courses.
As soon as guests began arriving Tazio staff were at the ready organising our drinks. They then brought out delicious share plates of antipasto to nibble while we drank.
For the foodies out there this included marinated olives, cured meats, roasted heirloom tomatoes, homemade pickled cucumbers and shallots with garlic herbed bread, grissini and the best tasting Persian fetta I have ever had on my palate.
There was certainly enough food to keep us nibbling for some time and this meant lots of opportunities to chat, and mingle. As you can see from the photos everyone was having a great social time of it. As writers, who work from home, none of us had met in person before so the mellow atmosphere, cocktails and great food made this a highly pleasant social affair.
Some in our party thought it was a little long in between courses so if you do have a specific time-frame in mind you may wish to discuss this with them when discussing your event. Personally I thought it was fine.
Tazio offers an extensive array of local and imported beers, wine, and spirits and is known for its cocktails. Some were sensational such as the French Martini – vodka shaken with pineapple juice and a touch of cranberry layered with Chambord raspberry liqueur and a really lovely cocktail was the bartender's choice which was an Espresso Martini – vodka, Kahlua, Licor 43 Vanilla shaken vigorously with a shot of freshly extracted espresso.
(These fantastic cocktails were only $12.50. This is Tazio's weekend special price from Friday 5pm. So this is a great setting for Friday night drinks as well.)
For our banquet our large party shared a number of pizzas. The names were not so different from everywhere else but the pizzas certainly were.
Tazio makes thin crusted pizzas, baked to perfection and topped with quality gourmet ingredients many of which they also make on their premises.
There were vegetarian options such as Margerhita topped with tomato, fior di latte, oregano and sea salt and Treviso with crushed oven fired tomato, fetta, caramelised onion and basil.
Meat lovers shared in the Veneto that was topped with tomato, mozzarella, crispy pancetta, roast peppers and goats cheese and for seafood lovers there was the Della Mare with tomato mozzarella, chilli, garlic, prawns and fresh spinach.
The table also enjoyed bowls of risotta and pasta penne amatriciana (with chicken, pancetta, chilli, garlic and napoli) as well as sides of mixed leaf salad with red wine vinaigrette, rocket and radicchio salad with parmesan and balsamic and palate fritte with roast garlic aioli.
Food Allergies and Intolerances
I was incredibly impressed with how well Tazio organised this increasingly modern dilemma. Food allergies and dietary requirements must be becoming a nightmarish landscape for restaurant owners and it was great to find a restaurant like this one step up and meet the challenge.
I am one of those gluten-free-challenged types. I was singled out, by the waitress and given a personalised menu with a list of what did and didn't have gluten so I wouldn't mistakenly eat something that might disagree with me. Where I couldn't eat certain things such as the shared pizzas I was given my own choice of any pizza I wanted off the menu, prepared with gluten free flour.
I was not alone, anyone who had food allergies was also given the same royal treatment. A really wonderful and considerate service. Reading through other reviews I notice that vegans are also well-catered for here.
Given our large group the waitress (or at least the one I met at our end of the long table) was incredibly attentive, genuine and patient. Given I was socialising and kept forgetting to read the menu to advice her of what pizza topping I wanted with my gluten free option. Also realising I was an ice-cruncher she didn't even whip my empty glass away after I had finished the liquid contents.
The chef came up to check on whether we were all enjoying our food and explain how the focus at Tazio is on good simple quality ingredients. My only complaint is that he would not give away the secret ingredients in the risotto despite my twisting his arm. I am not ordinarily a fan of this dish but this was a stunning version with a wonderful almost creamy consistency. I'm guessing along with the prawns there was a hint of garlic, lemon zest and fresh thyme. Finished my bowl (as one of the gluten free people in the party I was given my own private serve) right down to the last skerrick. I am adding this to my list of favourite dishes to be had in the CBD.
The WeekendNotes crew experienced a showcase of Tazio's food, beverage and service and we were generally impressed.
If you end up with that thwart task of organising a work or social function you might well want to check out Tazio's great offerings. They can organise functions such as banquet dinners for up to 15 to 80 in the main function room and restaurant and cocktail functions for 30-90 on their balcony / terrace (heated during winter and overlooking Flinders Lane.)
Given the great cocktails this would also be the perfect place for girls' nights out.
It is also suitable for business luncheons and the more intimate dining that fellow WeekendNotes writer Joya has written about here.
The menu is here. / Antipasto platters are $17, with other nibble options from $5 to $12. Most of the pizzas are around $17. They are 11 inches and are served cut into 6 generous pieces.
The general ambiance of this place is smart and streamlined. Industrial chic is the preferred term I believe. But that makes it sound a little cold when the atmosphere is in fact warm, vibrant and inviting.
Tazio also has a good deal with Secure Parking, which is just down the road. When you book with Tazio you can get 50% off casual rates and $3 Weekend & Evening Parking.
Tazio ticks all the boxes for a great group night out.