Old school

WHEN I was born in Glasgow in the 1970s, it was so unhealthy I got baptised in vegetable oil.

Forty five years later, on the other side of the world, I’m trying to shed my deep-fried past and eat a bit more healthily. 

So when we ordered takeaway from Al Dente Pasta, I got the chilli mussels ($24.50). 

Well, it’s a start.

Al Dente is a proudly old-school trattoria with checkered table cloths and a whiff of Lambrusco; it looks like the sort of place where Joey Gambazano would eat a cannoli and plan a hit.

They say support local during these strange times, and the Palmyra restaurant is only a few streets from Casa Pollock, so I puffed out my chest with pride as I ordered cannelloni ($22) for my wife, and fettuccine meatballs ($22) for the kids.

Al Dente’s takeaway menu has lots of old favourites including spaghetti carbonara, chicken cotoletta, and mushroom and chicken risotto, as well as a traditional range of veal and beef dishes. 

Heston Blumenthal and his liquid nitrogen would get short shrift here.

My chilli mussels in tomato sauce passed the first test – they were piping hot and piled high.

I chose the mild version and it was a good decision; it allowed the seafood to shine and not be bullied.

The dish came with a wedge of lemon and three slices of white bread, which were perfect for mopping up the star of the dish – the rich, moreish sauce.

As my wife wolfed down her tubes of cannelloni, she reminded me it was national takeaway day. 

It seems there are days for everything now and I look forward to “Glasgow Day”, when we are allowed to grab random objects and deep fry them.

Anyway, the cannelloni was going down well.

“The pasta is al dente and the ricotta filling isn’t too rich,” she said. “It’s really well balanced and the spinach is lovely.”

The accompanying chips were the only disappointment in the meal – there wasn’t enough of them and they were a bit limp and dark brown in places.

Across the table, the kids were enjoying their fettuccine meatballs.

I had a couple of mouthfuls and the delicious sauce tasted like it had been reducing for days. 

It had a rich meaty burst, followed by a sweet coda that lingered briefly on the palate. Top notch.

Al Dente Pasta is a good shout for an old-school Italian, where dishes are prepared with love and brimming with flavour.

As I prised the last mussel from its shell, I glanced at the news feed on my phone – ‘Scotland’s first pakora drive-thru has opened in Glasgow.”

Old habits die hard…

Al Dente Pasta
Corner of Canning Highway and Murray Road, Palmyra
(they have another outlet in the Coogee Plaza)
http://www.aldentepasta.com.au

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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