On 30 July 2014, on a chilly wintry evening I stepped into Terra Rossa to attend an invite to their Italian Dinner Table event to embark on an Italian city tour of taste. I was greeted by a friendly waitress who ushered me to a designated table.
The experience Decorated in contemporary style with rich historical influences, Terra Rossa Restaurant awed and inspired. The historic building that now houses Terra Rossa was formerly home to Victoria's Swiss Club. The mellow vibe created by the old brick building was complemented by an appealing combination of chandeliers, corniced ceilings and dim lighting. The mahogany furnishings added an aesthetic charm. The majestic entrance with beautiful wall carvings immediately arrested attention while the cosy interior beckoned with promises of warmth and bliss. A well-stocked bar adorned one wall.
Animated conversation and giggles filled the air. But we never felt that the other patrons impinged on our terrain in any manner with the noise level always remaining at a subdued level. There was a small outside seating area that would appeal to smokers and would certainly be nice on a summer evening.
Alice, our waitress for the day, brought the modest, one-page menu explaining that gourmet ingredients for the dinner had been sourced from Italy to deliver an Italian gastronomic experience. The Italian Dinner Table menu comprised of a two course meal with matched wines. The evening of 30 July 2014 was the Milano evening.
The Milano antipasto entrée was an instant hit. The eggplant marinated in garlic and rosemary and char-grilled zucchini were oozing with flavours. The roasted red peppers, cheese and crispy breads were delicious. The Milan style salami which had come all the way from Italy was of premium quality. The delicate and tender salami was slightly sweet and disappeared in our mouth in quick succession. The red Victorian wine (2010 Monichino) that accompanied the entrée was fruity and tantalising.
The mains comprised of a fish dish and a meat dish. The visually pleasing fish dish had me at hello. The roasted Cod had a crispy skin and the flesh was soft and full of flavour. The smashed chickpeas were delightfully savoury with every spoonful earning accolades from my tastebuds. The matched Italian wine (2012 Fontanafredda Briccotondo) was superb.
The Ossobuco Milanese with saffron risotto cooked in Nebbiolo was the next dish that appeared on our table. Ossobuco is made with cross cut veal shanks. The saffron-flavoured risotto was nice but it was the exquisite veal meat that elevated this dish from an ordinary one to an extraordinary one. The veal meat was butter-soft while the Nebbiolo added an extra oomph to the dish. A true melt in the mouth experience was delivered as my tastebuds rejoiced at the intricate flavours. Terra Rossa did a good job of keeping this dish traditional to its North Italian origin. The matched wine from NSW (2012 Trentham Estate) made an excellent companion to this dish.
Our wonderful waitress treated us to desserts even though they did not feature on the Italian Dinner Table menu. The pear and almond tart had a soft and crumbly exterior which gave way to mushy and sweet core. This delicious dessert hit all the right notes. I turned my mind and spoon to the flourless chocolate cake. The first spoonful of the sumptuous cake landed me on cloud nine. Sweetness was done to the level of perfection. Oohs and aahs serenaded this dessert as I slowly savoured every spoonful. Nirvana was completely delivered.
Staff I found the staff attentive, friendly, knowledgeable and polite. Alice, our waitress for the day, provided expert assistance with the menu. She took care to stagger the courses so we did not feel overwhelmed. Alice kept our glass full and cleared the dishes in a prompt manner. The other staff who brought wine and some of the dishes were equally pleasant.
Getting there Terra Rossa is conveniently located in the heart of Melbourne CBD at 87 Flinders Lane. You can just get off at the iconic Flinders Street railway station and walk 10 minutes to reach Terra Rossa. If you opt for car then there is ample parking in one of the many Flinders Lane private parking areas.
The Italian Dinner Table menu took us on a remarkable epicurean journey of the Italian cuisine. Valued at $65 per person the two course meal with matched wines is enough to gratify two hungry tummies. This is a bi-monthly dinner series that strives to bring authentic dishes of a different Italian city each time. The next Italian Dinner Table evening will be held on Wednesday, 24 September 2014. Bookings are available from 5pm.