Ovest revisited

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Ovest, 572 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 7766

It’s been a while since Consider The Sauce’s inaugural visit to Ovest so I’m very happy to be taking Bennie for his first visit for Sunday lunch.

The place has quickly established itself as a popular fixture for West Footscray and beyond.

But as it has done so, Ovest has been evolving and growing.

 

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For starters, and no doubt to the grateful hurrahs of many, the boss has “caved in” – according the place’s Facebook page – and now has a “shiny new Wega machine”.

Espresso coffee at Ovest – oh yes!

As well, while Ovest has been open on Sundays for a while, starting this coming week it will be open as well for lunch from Tuesdays through Saturdays, with those days offering a streamlined menu of nine-inch pizzas and a few other goodies (see menu below).

For our Sunday lunch, Bennie and I have no problem with choosing from the regular menu, going pizzas all the way.

 

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The spicy pork on a tomato base with fennel sausage, ham, baby tomatoes, fior di latte, wonderfully crisp pancetta and chillies ($22.50) and …

 

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… the napolitana with olives, fat anchovies, baby tomatoes, mozzarella and basil ($19.50) are brilliant.

Really, these two are – in our experience – as good as pizzas can be.

My cafe latte is pretty good, too!

 

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Classic Italian, well worth a drive

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Customs House Restaurant & Bar, 57-59 Brougham Street, Geelong. Phone: 5246 6500

Dinner in Geelong?

Sure, why not!

Truth is, since departing the Geelong Advertiser, Consider The Sauce has been in that city just once – on the way to and from a nice winery lunch.

Since then that city has been pretty much out of sight and out of mind.

Oddly enough, places that were whizzed by countless commuting times – such as Werribee – have since become the locations of numerous CTS visitations.

But Geelong?

No.

 

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But … as it happens, one of our cherished and now regular dining companions and her other half have Geelong ties, and are only too happy to make up a table when an invitation arrives from Customs House (see full disclosure below).

And – again, as it happens – both my friends happen to be in Geelong on the day/night in question.

So I make the journey happily alone, eschewing the temptation of firing up the chopper and departing plenty early instead by car.

The traffic is heavy but flowing steadily, and I enjoy a nice drive fuelled by Haiatian rhythms.

I arrive with about an hour to spare before dinner time, which allows me to indulge in casual stroll around the CBD and waterfront.

There’s some sad-looking boarded-up shops on the main drag but elsewhere – on Malop Street and the waterfront – there’s been some attractive and cool eats additions so I bide my time menu grazing.

NOW it’s dinner time.

 

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The first surprises, for me, are both the location and the building itself – for some reason I had in my mind’s eye that Customs House was another historic building, one closer to the train station.

This actual Customs House is almost on the waterfront and very striking at night with it expanse of lawn leading down to the bay.

Inside, the low ceiling lends the place a clubbish feel and whole feels very nice and welcoming.

For all the swishness of the surroundings, the vibe is casual and friendly.

Another surprise is the menu (see below).

For some inexplicable reason all three of us had been expecting bistro or “modern Australian” – what we find is classic, straight-up Italian.

And the just fine by us as we’re all partial to just that!

Everything we have is good or better – even, in the cases of one of our mains and a couple of the desserts, ranging into outstanding territory.

It all compares very favourably with the fare of any of the several western suburbs Italian places we like.

 

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Fresh asparagus spears wrapped and grilled in proscuitto, served with a lemon mascarpone ($16) finds us each tucking into a lovely bundle, with the pig salty and chewy and the mascarpone a delicious touch.

 

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Arancini della nonna are rice balls stuffed with talleggio, crumbed, fried and served with a napoli sauce ($16). They’re fine, with green peas providing extra texture.

 

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Focaccia with roasted garlic oil and rosemary salt ($8) is agreeably on the dry side, crumbly and enjoyable. We mop up the last of the rice ball napoli sauce with it, as well.

 

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House gnocchi with parmesan cream, pork and fennel sausage and mushrooms ($34) appears to be almost overly rich but is enjoyed by its recipient.

 

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My zuppa de pesce ($42) boasts a broth that is rich, deep and flavoursome with seafood stock.

The seafood is good, though the mussels are tiny and the whole is weighted heavily towards baby octopus – no matter, I scoff the lot with glee.

 

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The simple, rustic pollo alla cacciatora ($38) is big hit, its hefty chook chunk tender, juicy and oh-so-fine despite the depth of the meat.

I try it, thanks to my companion.

I wish it was mine.

Now it’s on to desserts – we’re excited as the three featured are faves all round.

 

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Chocolate panna cotta with hazelnut praline ($16) is fine and enjoyable but the least of our three sweeties.

It’s with the …

 

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… traditonal tiramisu ($15) and the …

 

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… the white chocolate creme brulee with blueberries ($16.50) that our lovely evening ends with giddy highs that have us sighing with pleasure.

This is Italian dessert making of a very high order!

With that it’s back up the road for me, a familiar drive to the strains of Benin Afro-funk made all the easier and even enjoyable thanks to a fine meal enjoyed with good friends.

Check out the Customs House website here.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Customs House as guests of the management and we did not pay for our meal. We chose from regular menu and had no restrictions placed upon us in doing so. Customs House management neither sought nor was granted any input, oversight or pre-publication access to his story.)

 

Click to add a blog post for Customs House Restaurant & Wine Bar on Zomato

 

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Moto a-go-go

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Motorino, 29A Vernon Street, South Kingsville. Phone: 9399 2121

Motorino has been around for years but we’ve never until now been through its doors.

Not sure why.

Certainly, it’s been in the mix many, many times as we’ve pondered our options – but we’ve chosen to go elsewhere.

A recent, indolent incident of home delivery pizzas quickened our interest – our couple of simple, vegetarian pizzas were simply the best to-our-door food we’ve ever invested in.

On time, hot, delicious.

So here we are, trying our luck without a booking on a Friday night.

No problem – we snag a table for two and take in our surroundings.

Having peered through the windows so often, it seems I’ve bred the impression that Motorino is somehow a sleek, trendy sort of place.

 

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So I am bemused to discover that from an insider’s point of view that it’s not like that at all – it’s just like any popular Italian eatery in Melbourne.

It could be in Carlton or Brunswick.

Gee, that sounds like I’m damning with faint praise – and that’s not my intention.

Mororino IS kinda cool and classy and the cooking aromas are intoxicating.

But it’s all a hubbub on this Friday night, with family groups galore and kids everywhere.

The staff are obliging, smiling and efficient.

We settle in for a slightly longer duration than planned but enjoy the hell out of our Motorino stay.

And why wouldn’t we when we have a pizza, a pasta, a dessert pizza and two hot drinks and pay a most admirable $56?

 

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Pizza funghi ($17.50) with caramelised onions, ricotta, olive oil and mozzarella is good though we find it a little austere and plain.

We unambiguously cast envying eyes at the specials-board marinated lamb number being consumed at a neighbouring table.

 

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Fusilli Tuscan of Tuscan sausage, caramelised onions, garlic, tomato sugo and parmesan ($19.50) we think is utterly brilliant.

I make a version of this at home but no way have I ever attained the sort of succulent, tasty, sticky and rich heights this plate does.

Wonderful!

 

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Having such a swell time are we that ordering a dessert pizza is a no-brainer.

Bennie’s outside talking on his phone – so I make the call: Raspberry and lemon curd pizza with double cream ($12).

As you’d expect, it’s on the tartish side – but that’s fine by us.

It lasts, maybe, about three minutes and is sluiced down by a just-right cafe latte ($3.50) and hot chocolate ($$3.50).

During the course of the evening, we’ve seen very many delivery drivers come and go.

I’m told that a typical Friday night will see about 80 deliveries made involving about eight or nine drivers.

Man, that’s some serious pizza moving business.

As we recently discovered for ourselves, there’s very delicious reasons for that.

But based on tonight’s meal, we reckon we should make the effort for an in-house visit much more often.

 

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Real Italian – $12

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Riverside Kitchen & Events, 55 Newsom Street, Ascot Vale. Phone: 9326 0525

The longer Consider The Sauce lives in the west, the more delightful are surprises we stumble upon of people and places that have been there all along.

Like Medway Golf Club, Riverside Golf and Tennis Club is tucked away beside the Maribyrnong River in a way that seems almost designed to evade casual discovery.

Even better – much, much better – the catering and food affairs at Riverside go way beyond what may be expected at a golf club.

I’m told that for at least a couple of years, Riverside Kitchen & Events has been running here, delivering the food and service of a traditional, old-school Italian restaurant.

You can check out the full Riverside menu here but tonight the four of us are here to take the place for a spin in the form of the Tuesday’s $12 pizza and pasta specials (see menu below).

 

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The place does has an attractive clubbishness that is not unexpected – it’s a cool place to spend some time and must be a true delight for a sunny summer lunch or early evening weekend dinner.

On a “research” visit a few days previously, I’d spied house-made zippoli, tiramisu and canoli!

The $12 Tuesday menu is a restricted selection of the menu proper’s pizza and pasta line-up – no surprise the five of each evince no presence of seafood, but that’s fine by us.

The food we enjoy is the real deal and of much better quality than we’d find at a similarly priced theme night at, say, a pokie venue or the like.

 

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Only one of we four goes for a pizza.

The Frank Special has mushies, bacon, basil, tomato and mozzarella.

At first we cynically start to think the pie is adorned with the dreaded “pizza ham” – but no, this is real bacon and it makes all the difference.

This is a good pizza, period.

For $12, it’s terrific.

 

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My fettuccine alla bolognese is simple but very enjoyable.

The rich sauce appears to have been made with real meat rather than brought-in mince and the noodles have the sort of suppleness that speaks of made-in-the-kitchen pasta.

We’re assured that all the Riverside pasta is created thusly!

 

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The pasta that comes with the spaghetti al cartoccio is likewise of fine quality.

The parcel’s contents are alive with the flavours of capers, garlic and olives.

This dish tastes and eats a whole lot better than it photographs.

And, as with all three of our pasta choices, the portion size is big.

 

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Bennie’s gnocchi piccanti has good but quite heavy pasta pillows bathing in a rich tomato sauce with chilli and hot salami.

He’s a little underwhelmed but it tastes fine to me and is quite spicy.

 

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Altona/Willy eats goss

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Dropping into one of our favoured locals haunts – Altona Fresh at 62-76 Second Avenue – seeking coffee, great pork sausages, even greater lemon zest-marinated green olives, I am delighted to find coffee is now on the menu.

How marvellous!

 

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Now shopping for Altona Fresh’s superb goodies can be accompanied by an excellent caffeine chill-out and maybe even a $3.50 canoli fresh from Cavallaro’s in Footscray.

 

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The sorts of older shopping strips of the kind on which Altona Fresh is situated are our favourite foodie destinations – all this one needs is a bit of street life and it could be really lovely.

Even on a mid-week afternoon, with not many people around, it’s already apparent this coffee breakthrough could play a role in doing just that.

 

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Also talking Italian, but moving over a suburb, Pizza d’Asporto – which has rapidly become one of our very favourite regulars – has extended its trading hours.

It’s now open for lunches on both Thursdays and Sundays, as well as Fridays and Saturdays and seven nights a week.

Yum!

 

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Staying in Williamstown … fine Greek restaurant Santorini is hosting, with Consider The Sauce, a fundraiser to benefit West Welcome Wagon and its work with hundreds of asylum-seeker homes in the west.

It’s going to be a wonderful night!

See story here.

 

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Live in or near Altona North?

Love pho?

Give Window Cafe a try.

See story here.

Very excellent – bank on it

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Ovest, 572 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 7766

Ovest has been open a while by the time Team CTS visits.

Every time I’ve passed by in recent weeks when the place has been open, it’s been jumping.

So our hopes are high – especially those of my friends, who live just a black away and for whom this shapes as a welcome local of the non-Indian variety.

Our hopes are fulfilled, and in terms of the food well exceeded.

 

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Here’s the bottom line – we have one entree, one side, one pizza, two mains, one dessert, two glasses of wine and a soft drink.

The bill comes to just cents above $40 each.

What an absolute ripping bargain!

We’ve booked at 6pm on a Sunday night – which may have been a mistake as it’s family rush hour, the joint is very noisy and the service is a little scrappy, but not enough to cause any alarm.

When I amble back to my car, post-dinner and after having picked up a wonderful loaf of freshly baked bread from my companions’ place, Ovest is a lot more placid.

The dining room looks a treat and it’s a wonderful thing that this old bank is playing host to such vibrant life.

 

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Coleslaw of cabbage, pear, radish, lemon and parmesan ($12) is a real big serve of yum.

At first, I wish for a little more salt and flavour bite, but by the end I come to love the rather perfumey flavours.

 

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Saganaki kefalograviera, sherry vinegar-soaked currants and pickled onions appears modest of portion but is so rich that three of us are happy.

The cheese has a marvellously toasted and salty crust.

 

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A mushroom pizza with taleggio, caramelised onion and fior de latte ($20) is very, very good, its many fungus chunks having a real meatiness about them.

 

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Tuna nicoise ($26) is a stunner and very generous to boot.

Underneath that handsome slab of fish lie spud discs and heaps of superbly creamy mayo.

My roast of the day (top photo, $25.50) is a simple but good-sized snapper stuffed with lemon.

The fish is lovely but it’s the accompanying salad/salsa that makes this dish sing – the clever addition of pickled chilli discs adds not just random exclamations of heat but also a just-right tartness.

The good, hot chips are served in such quantity that there’s more than enough for us all to share – but then, that’s true of everything we’ve enjoyed.

 

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By the time dessert selections are to be made, we’re stuffed.

So to speak.

So two becomes one with three spoons.

Panna cotta of yogurt, vanilla and strawberry jelly ($10) is just the sort creamy dream you’d expect and lasts all of about, oh, five seconds.

The jelly is a delicately-flavoured delight.

My pals are stoked.

So would I be if this “local” had just opened a minute from my front door!

 

Ovest on Urbanspoon

 

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Hopper’s Crossing Italian hideaway

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Domani Pasticceria, Shop 4, 220 Old Geelong Road, Hoppers Crossing. Phone: 8742 7852

Traffic lights have been installed at the corner of Forsyth Road and Old Geelong Road … to the undoubted relief of long-suffering local motorists.

Still, the roads hereabouts are demanding of driver concentration.

Old Geelong Road from Forsyth right down to Hoppers Crossing Station is one of the west’s least lovely boulevards, a kilometre or so of discount furniture stores, hardware establishments, car-fixer-upperers and discount furniture stores.

 

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We’re not being judgmental in saying that – we understand that it’s to this stretch of commercial activity that the many new residents of housing estates come to find affordable stuff for their new homes.

We’ve done so ourselves, albeit to the Good Guys for a new phone and an amusement place for a long-ago birthday party.

But no one is ever going to award this stretch of road a good-looking award.

Still, as ever in the west, interesting things are there to be found by those prepared to have a peek.

One such is Domani Pasticceria.

 

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It’s located behind a drive-through coffee stand and a fresh chicken shop that also does duty as a continental deli.

Parking is ample and, in a neighbourhood where good food and coffee are rather scarce, Domani presents as a calming retreat.

It’s Italian old-school in the way of Cavallaro’s in Footscray.

There’s nothing savoury about Domani – no pizza or pasta or sandwiches of any kind.

I suspect Domani makes most of its income from baking cakes to order for birthdays, weddings and the like.

But when Bennie and I try it out for post-school coffee and treats, it comes up, well, a treat.

 

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We split between us a chocolate mudcake ($2.50) and a chocolate beignet ($3.50).

The mudcake is pretty much a glorified, dense cupcake and just OK.

The beignet is something else … and it’s a good thing we’re sharing.

So engorged is it with chocolate cream that Bennie and I lapse into giggles at the very delicious decadence of it.

Bennie goes the chinotto route while my $3 cafe latte is very fine.

 

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The minimum card purchase is $15 so that’s exactly the amount of biscotti we snag to take home.

They’re terrific and fresh.

 

Domani Pasticceria on Urbanspoon

 

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