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Ela Carte steps Off The Boat

Posted by: Ela Carte | 9 November, 2012 - 10:57 AM
Spaghetti Bolognese Off The Boat

Off the Boat – 203 Edwardes St Reservoir www.offtheboat.com.au   

A nice place to start if you want to discover Reservoir, this is a leafy part by the picturesque Edwardes Lake.

Off the Boat is cosy, run by locals, with an Italian chef and Italian pizza maker – and they’re making a huge effort to give other locals a real taste of Italy on their own doorstep.

It’s already popular enough to rely on two sittings – 6pm or 8pm, we went for the latter on a Friday night. It’s always a risk of course, and when we arrived the earlier diners weren’t quite ready to leave and things got pretty crowded in the small shopfront for a while.

When we sat down though, the vibe was relaxed, and service was friendly.

It’s a reasonably simple menu, but there was a great selection of specials to go with it – many with a seafood theme, and it seems to be the chef’s specialty.

For starter, we were recommended the seafood antipasto, and at $28 it was a good snack for five of us. Small selections of lemon and oil marinated salmon with rocket, seafood salad with calamari, octopus and shrimps, crumbed oven baked swordfish, mussels, fresh tuna, and some scaccia – kind of like a bread pie.

We also shared a serve of lightly fried calamari for entree, and some fried eggplant chips – would have loved a sauce or dip for either of them.

For the mains, it’s pretty much down to pizza and pasta, but they’re all made in house, and they’re good. Chef Georgio only arrived in Melbourne from Italy less than a month before Off the Boat opened, so there’s an authentic touch of Italy in each dish.

We tried gnocchi with a lovely, rick napoletana sauce, and also the porcini funghi – a creamy compbination of porcini, button and wild mushrooms with cream, garlic and parsley. The servings were huge, so great value at $14 and $18 respectively. Beautiful flavours, simple concepts.

Fettucine bolognese was bound to be a bit of a yardstick, and it was as it should be – another huge serve, perfect al dente pasta and a well seasoned sauce.  

Pizzas went down a treat, made by hand by yet another Italian, the carbonara was the crowd favourite – mozzarella, rocket, parmesan, fresh cherry tomatoes and crunchy pancetta.

Four cheese was as rich as it sounds, slapped with lashings of gorgonzola, bocconcini, goats cheese, and parmesan.

It was hard to imagine eating again at the end of all that, but when even the gelato is hand-made, it’s almost rude not to try it. There’s something for everyone, from lemon with real rind, to a positively naughty chocolate and hazelnut.

You know it’s a neighbourhood restaurant when staff are sitting down to their own dinners at the end of a very long day, but still chatting to diners, and eventually sending over a complimentary plate of donuts. It almost cruel in a way given the distended state of our collective stomachs.

It’s that kind of feel, a thoughtful place where many of the fittings have been built by hand by the owners the same way the food is constructed - with a little love and care.

No liquor licence just yet, but hopefully one on the way in a matter of weeks. 

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