Every time I walk past The Italian Bowl on the perpetually bustling King Street, it is jam-packed. Well, not every time. There’s about an hour between 3 and 4pm when it finally dies down. One night, while walking past rather late, my dining friend and I spotted an opening and somewhat athletically jumped at the chance.
It’s cheap and cheerful; it looks like a takeaway joint and to be honest, from appearances alone, you probably wouldn’t think the pasta would be particularly good. You know those ones…Step 1: pick your pasta; Step 2: pick your sauce. Nevertheless, when in doubt, follow the masses – that many people can’t possibly be wrong…can they?
We kicked off our Italian fiesta with a…sadly uninspiring herb bread. The bread itself was fairly nice and crusty, but at the end of the day, it was just 2 slices of bread, smacked with butter and a sprinkle of McCormick’s finest mixed dried herbs. And not really enough of it. That said, it was $2.50. Does anyone really have the right to complain at that price?
Fortunately, the tides had turned by the time the pasta dishes were revealed. My dining friend went for his boring usual, chicken risotto. The risotto was delicious. There was a healthy amount of chicken (although I can’t help but think how much nicer it would have been for some freshly grilled chunks of the meat to be sitting on top as well), but in terms of the rice itself, it was quite….solid. You know how they say the perfect risotto is supposed to not really form a mound on the plate (but at the same time, not be a rice stew) – well, this one definitely had a backbone to it. That said, it tasted pretty good and the rice was nicely (if not ever so slightly overdone) cooked. I can empathise, in the sense that risotto invariably takes far too long to cook, especially for what is essentially a “fast” pasta restaurant, so they’ve obviously had a pot of the stuff hangin’ around for a while…still, it was solid. $16 regular; $23 large (we…mistakenly got the large)
My pasta was a fettuccine marinara – my favourite. The pasta was deliciously al dente; the seafood was plentiful (prawns, calamari, little chunks of fish) and the sauce not too heavy, but altogether garlicky and flavourful. Once again, made the mistake of getting the large ($16 reg; $23 large) and couldn’t finish it. The seafood was well cooked too.
Bonus points for The Italian Bowl – they don’t have fake parmesan in their shakers! I don’t know why I’m so impressed with this, but it’s such a small thing that makes such a large difference. The meals came out fast, they were hot and delicious – decently large serving and nicely flavoured. We didn’t try any of their meat dishes, but there are definitely some refinements that could be made to the dishes we tried.
The Italian Bowl
255 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
Food? 7/10. A decent, casual eatery. Lots of traffic, a good “fast food” option. Meals are fairly unrefined….but perhaps that’s how mama likes it
Drinks? N/a – we had a coupla cans of lemon squash and they were as good as any lemon squash I’ve had
Atmosphere? 6/10 – nothing special. The restaurant is long and thin so you often feel as though there’s not enough room to sit more than a couple of people at a table. Service was friendly and efficient though.