Tuesday, July 31, 2007


It was my birthday on Saturday and S-bo took me for dinner at Provincia. I’ve blogged about breakfast here before however I thought this time I’d sit back and enjoy a nice dinner with S-bo, celebrate my birthday and not worry about rushing home to blog (although who am I kidding, my posts are always late).

So no camera, no photos, no mentally preparing what to write. Still I can’t help but post because the experience was simply wonderful. Andrea, the owner/manager/chef/head waiter brings his own warmth to each table. His thick Italian accent talks you through antipasti to have with your aperitif and points out the short comings of his grasp of the English language, as displayed ever-so-subtly on the menu. Still, such casualness in dealing with the customers doesn’t detract from the fact you are eating at a very stylish, very ‘schmick’ establishment.

The menu swings from simple pasta dishes, available in small and large sizes, to more substantial mains. It’s Italian as the locals might know it. There’s no bolognese, no lasagne and no tiramisu. If you want that go to Lygon St. However if you want something to tempt you to jump on a place and find any Italian household who will cook their regional specialty, come to Provincia. S-bo enjoyed Lamb Shanks on Polenta whilst I had Pasta with Osso bucco sauce.

The winelist includes a lot of Italian wines which I know wine lovers are wary of. S-bo and I chose an Australian Sangiovese only to be told it wasn’t available. But don’t worry, there was another one, an Italian, for similar price and better! We were dutifully provided with a bottle of Sangiovese Di Romagna, Umberto Cesario (I think). Whilst I’m not certain on the name luckily I remember the label because S-bo and I are going to hunt this one down. It was sensational. When we find it I’ll publish the actual name and you can all go forth and get your own! Trust me.

For dessert I couldn’t decide between the Chocolate Pudding or the Blueberry Panna Cotta with hazelnut praline. Andrea recommended the pudding and I was rewarded. I can’t remember such a sumptuous dessert. An individual made-to-order, soft centred chocolate pudding arrived with a pear poached in red wine and nougat icecream. Amazing.

So where is Provincia? It’s on Victoria Avenue, Albert Park. The number 1 tram will take you right past and I promise you wont regret the tip. Mains are priced reasonably at around $20-30, with pastas a little less. If you think travelling across the city is a bit of a gamble why not come on a Sunday or Monday evening: 2 courses + glass of wine for $25. Although Sunday nights you wont get Andrea’s service as he’s in the kitchen.

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