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July 13, 2014 | by  | in Food Opinion |
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Ombra [Review]

Ombra describes itself as a “Venetian bacaro” (the waiter described it as a “back-alley tavern in Venice”) serving tapas-style food. I do find the phrasing a little pretentious, but I am prepared to forgive Ombra for their delicious food. A relatively recent addition to Cuba St, Ombra seems to be one of the new hip places to go, which explains its long wait times and crowded table space. It makes the most of a small space with a consistent aesthetic and on-trend décor. If you go on a weekday, the wait time’s never too unbearable, provided you’re not in a large group.

If you can recall my love of the tapas-style menu at Chow, Ombra is just as good at delivering small plates of food perfect for sharing. Like Chow, the tapas-style menu means that food is affordable, albeit in small portions; my date (read: mother) and I shared five plates, a drink each, and were content, at $65 total.

Ombra is my go-to for Campari spritzers and delicious Venetian food; the seasonal rotating menu means that you’re guaranteed fresh seasonal produce, the only downside of this being that you can’t guarantee your favourites will still be on the menu. I was sorely disappointed when I saw that the radicchio, Kikorangi and walnut gnocchi (the best gnocchi I have ever eaten) was replaced with pumpkin and scamorza gnocchi, although the latter is also tasty.

My other favourites include the crescenza, silverbeet and pine-nut bruschetta (I would happily eat nothing but that for weeks on end), all of the pizzettes made with special pizza flour (which makes a huge difference), and the vegetarian risotto. I have it on good authority that the sardines are to die for, and the pork belly is divine. The polenta chips are popular and yummy, but the truffle aioli is a tad bland for my taste.

As far as desserts go, don’t go past the gorgonzola gelato and poached pears. You might think gorgonzola gelato is a weird flavour, but it’s the stuff of dreams. The only dish I’ve ever had that’s been a downfall is the seaweed fritters – bland and with far too much batter to be enjoyable.

When I asked him for his opinion of Ombra, my flatmate said: “if I could get married to a restaurant, it would be Ombra.” I’d celebrate that marriage with a glass of Campari.

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