Elio's Osteria BYO Carina
Last Thursday, mum and I revisited Elio's in Carina. By revisited, I mean that my family got takeaway pasta from there maybe upwards of 6-7 years ago. We always had a really good impression of the pasta so as time went by, whenever people asked us for pasta restaurant recs, we'd direct them to Elio's. I'd say that by 2010, our measly 1 visit hardly gave us any authority to rate the place but it goes to show how far a good impression can go.
When we got there, the place was closed. I was ready to give up (was starving that day and in no mood to wait around for a restaurant to open) but mum ran out of the car to ask and came back to say they were opening in 2 min. There were a few other people hovering outside for them to open too.
The interior was nothing like I expected. It's got a stylish, romantic diner feel. Dark but still maintaining a casual and slightly homely vibe. I normally hate dark restaurants (if only because it means I can't get good photos) but this had a nice atmosphere.
Our waiter was absolutely lovely. We were handed food and drinks menus. Mum and I stared at the menu for ages. Prices were a bit more than we expected so we chose pesto foccacia for starters and just a salad and an entree-sized pasta to share for mains.
The pesto foccacia was amazing. It was really subtle in flavor (did need a liberal sprinkle of salt, but that's not hard to arrange) and the base was light and puffy, without being too puffy, and crisp on the outside. It made me wish I ordered a pizza from Elio's because they seem to know how to manage their dough.
I originally wanted to try the sweet potato salad but mum wisely pointed out that our meal was too carb-laden. We substituted with a simple garden salad. It was quite small but boy was my mum enthralled by the salad. She claims that it is, quote "the best salad I've ever eaten". The leafy components were basic but what she found most impressive was the dressing. I liked it too, maybe to not that extent, but the dressing is unusual and complex. It's a great balance of sweet, tart and creamy.
With our pasta dish, I chose the one that was the least guilt-inducing. I knew when I picked it that I was forgoing much tastier-sounding options. That's just one of life's unfortunate compromises, I'm afraid. As expected, the pasta was OK but not amazing. I imagine one with 'bacon' and 'cream' in the description would have fared better. The seafood was quite fresh and abundant but the sauce tasted a bit like tinned tomato sauce? I feel awful for making that comparison but there you have it.
It took a lot of willpower to resist sticky date pudding for dessert.
I liked Elio's. It had a casual but stylistic atmosphere, great service and (aside from my poor choice), good food.