I was tired and hungry after battering plastic crocodiles with a foam mallet for more than an hour.
No, I wasn’t in therapy after working at the Chook for umpteen years, but in Timezone celebrating my kids’ birthdays.
After racing my daughter on a giant rubber horse, it was finally time for dinner, so we decamped to Sandrino on the cappuccino strip.
The long-running Italian restaurant has a great menu which caters for both traditional and contemporary tastes.
There’s all the old pasta favourites (carbonara, spaghetti and meatballs, gnocchi), a great variety of wood-fired pizzas, and for those feeling a bit more adventurous a fantastic range of specials and seafood dishes.
The place was heaving on a Friday night and were seated on the first floor, which seemed to be an unofficial zone for families with young kids.
From this vantage point you had a bird’s-eye view of the hustle and bustle downstairs, including a man who had a cutlery malfunction, resulting in a meatball flying off his plate and landing on his groin. It was all a bit Benny Hill and made my kids laugh uncontrollably.
The waitress was soon back with my plate of barbecued seafood ($35.5), which was piled high with mussels, prawns, grilled fish and baby calamari. It certainly looked the part and tasted just as good.
The standout was the skewered prawns which were plump and juicy and had a lovely garlicky marinade. People think prawns are easy to cook, but I’ve lost count of the times I’ve gnawed on pink rubber bullets in restaurants. These specimens were spot on. The mussels tasted super fresh and again were perfectly cooked with just the right firmness on the bite.
As I cut into the grilled fish, plumes of steams rose upwards, and I enjoyed every bite of the fleshy fillet. The baby calamari didn’t hit the heights of its ocean buddies – it was well cooked but the seasoning didn’t cut through and it tasted slightly bland (either that or my palate was fatigued after the fishy onslaught).
Rounding off the dish was a garden salad and a small basket of fries, which were beer battered and had a satisfying crunch. Across the table my wife was enjoying a wood-fired pizza with buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato, fresh basil and prosciutto ($23).
“You just can’t beat the pizzas here: the authentic bases are super thin and crispy, and the toppings are all super fresh and of the highest quality,” she said. “The tomato sauce has a lovely creaminess that keeps you coming back for more.”
My kids had previously been to Sandrino for a birthday party and raved about it, so they were in seventh heaven eating their kids-sized ham and cheese pizza. Sandrino has a great children’s menu with lots of options, as a lot of places just do those ghastly chicken nuggets.
The service was pretty good throughout the night, especially the maître d’ at the top of the stairs, who had a thick Italian accent and was very welcoming.
My only gripe was the tiny table that made dinner feel like a game of Tetris – carefully slotting together all the plates, glasses and condiments so they could fit.
Restaurants on the cappuccino strip get a bit of a bashing, but Sandrino delivered again and has been a consistent performer for many years.
16 South Terrace, Fremantle
by STEPHEN POLLOCK