If there’s one thing my mum loves, it’s pasta. She’s a hard critic when it comes to her favourite food, and I know that she likes dishes outside of your standard spaghetti and meatballs range. Neither of us had been to Il Lido but I’d heard great things of this sister restaurant to Duende and Gordon St Garage. I had heard that the Head Chef had recently left Il Lido but I was still keen to try it out nonetheless.
Arriving just before 6pm we’re told the main restaurant is booked out, but we manage to grab a table in the small side room. It’s a bit quieter in there so that actually suits us fine – looks like we’re not the only ones who thought going to a restaurant at the beach was a great idea!
The menu at Il Lido is chocked full of Italian dishes – lots of fresh salads and antipasti, with some pasta and meat dishes for mains. There’s a good variety and I’m feeling happy that we decided to give this place a go. While we’re choosing our dishes, mum orders a gin and tonic to start her meal off. I’ve had a few too many drinks the night before so I decide to skip alcohol and just have water which I’m pleased to see that they’ve automatically provided us with. These days I find I’m constantly asking for water instead of having it given as standard practice.
Mum and I decide that we’ll each order a pasta dish for mains, but share a couple salads for starters. Naturally I agree! If you read my blog you’ll know I’m always happy ordering more so I get a greater range of dishes to try.
The first salad we pick is the mozzarella, broad bean and mint salad. I love the sound of the ingredients and have high hopes for this dish. Tasting the salad the produce is fresh, but there’s no love on the plate – it’s plated like they’ve just tossed all the ingredients on one plate. Sadly it’s also under seasoned and is crying out desperately for some kind of sauce, be it a simple olive oil or lemon juice. After adding a great deal of salt to the plate we also ask our waiter for some olive oil to drizzle over the top. Once we do, it tastes great! I think that’s just the way we like to eat our salads, we’re used to simple dressings at the least.
The mozzarella is tasty but actually reminds me more of ricotta – in both taste and texture. It’s light and crumbly; the broad beans fresh and vibrant. I would have loved more mint on the plate, especially after seeing the table next to us order the same dish and be given one with way more broad beans and mint.
The second salad we’ve chosen is fennel, raddichio, blood orange and pistachios. Mild fennel, bitter raddichio and juicy orange work so well together – they’re such classic flavours and great produce to work with.
This salad has all the bones for something great, but like the mozzarella salad it’s made much better with a good sprinkling of salt and the requested side of olive oil that we’re given. I love how vibrant the colours on the plate are, and the crunch that the crushed pistachios give to each bite.
Both salads are simple, but with some correct salting and dressing I can imagine they’d be really popular dish choices in summer.
Our plates are cleared quickly after our salads, and the restaurant settles into a dim low lit affair as the sun disappears into night. After about half an hour or so our mains eventually come out which is a bit longer wait than I would normally expect.
Mum has chosen the pappardelle with rabbit, black olive and pecorino cheese. The pappardelle is undercooked rather than al dente which is a bit disappointing but the rabbit is tender and juicy. The black olive is a crumb which breaks up the ingredient over the plate, and the cheese binds everything together.
For a $30+ dish it’s on the small side but if the pasta is made fresh in house I think that can be warranted. I definitely would have loved to see more meat on the plate though.
My choice is the mezzaluna pasta, which are half moon shaped pillows of house made ricotta, accompanied by broccoli, chilli and more ricotta. It smells good so I’m excited to dive in, especially since I haven’t come across mezzaluna pasta before.
My pasta is cooked perfectly, retaining just the right amount of bite. The filling is a little on the bland side, so once again I find myself reaching for the salt on the table to load up. Normally I find things too salty so this is a surprise for me!
The broccoli is so yummy, soft and flavoursome. It picks up some of the heat from the slices of chilli which sets my tastebuds on fire. Love that feeling! The sauce underneath the pasta is not great on the other hand, too watery and negligible – it doesn’t add anything to the dish. I do like the addition of some roasted garlic cloves though, they’re soft and creamy.
We decide not to order dessert since I’ve made a big carrot cake that we can eat at home but I did notice some pretty tasty looking sweet dishes going out to tables around us. Next time I guess!
Il Lido is a Cottesloe institution, one I’ve heard rave reviews about from all different people. My own personal experience was that the service was good and the prices about what you’d expect for this suburb. As for the food, well it has all the potential of something great, but it just needs that extra finesse and care to take it to the next level. I wouldn’t mind giving it another go sometime in the future. I hear their gnocchi is incredible – and I do love gnocchi so that might be enough to lure me back!