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Scorcher reviews: Abruzzo Lab – ‘Australia’s first dedicated arrosticini restaurant’

Ross and Kate
Article image for Scorcher reviews: Abruzzo Lab – ‘Australia’s first dedicated arrosticini restaurant’

Abruzzo Lab
Shop 14/24-30 Taryn Drive, Epping

What are the best foods that come on a stick? Lollipops? Probably not. They’re sickly sweet and can do some damage to your teeth. Dagwood dog? Only appropriate if you’re at a carnival or fun fair. Toffee apple? I haven’t had one of those since I wore shorts to school.

I reckon the correct answer is skewered meat. Known by various names around the world – shish kebab, shashlik, yakitori – these little sticks of simplicity are the perfect handheld snack, with the BBQ party being their natural habitat.

Arrosticini is the Italian version of meat skewers, a traditional dish, typically made with mutton, from the Abruzzo region of Italy. Like a reliable old car, there’s nothing flashy or showy about arrosticini but they will comfortably get you to your edible destination; just a little seasoning and some flames is all the fuel that’s required to get them going.

Now, for those, like me, who enjoy getting a meat-on-a-stick fix there’s a delightful new player in town that specialises in slinging these little sticky suckers.

Abruzzo Lab, located in the industrial backlots of Epping, is Australia’s first dedicated arrosticini restaurant. Cooked on the restaurant’s custom-built, 3m-long fornacella – a Abruzzese barbecue – Abruzzo Lab serves up four different varieties of arrosticini: traditional (lamb), pollo (crumbed chicken), pesce spada (crumbed swordfish) and fegato e cipolla (liver and onion).

They arrive at your table hot off the grill in a terracotta pot, and then the salty, tender meat goes straight from stick to gob, taking extra care not to skewer yourself in the process. And at only $2.50 (lamb and chicken) and $3.50 (swordfish and liver) a pop, you can afford to get a little crazy with the ordering.

But it’s not only skewers and smiles that you’ll receive at Abruzzo Lab. Also on the menu is a select range of simple, home-style rustic Italian dishes, such as cow and sheep-milk cheese balls that bob away in tomato sugo, Italian bullet sausages with onion and rosemary mayo, meat and cheese platters, Abruzzese lasagne and spaghetti with sweet chilli and toasted bread crumbs.

I must admit I hadn’t come across arrosticini, in all its salty glory, before dining at Abruzzo Lab, and very much enjoyed saddling up and spending a night on this edible journey of discovery.

Make sure you book before heading out to Epping as there wasn’t a spare seat in the house on the Saturday night we were there.

Best thing to come on a stick? Probably hard to beat.

Ross and Kate