“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” – Giuseppe Verdi
Frilly, embroidered tablecloths, thick orange glassware, wine served in tumblers and Sicilian food makes Bar Idda a rare find among the ordinary Italian food offerings and akin to a special feast at nonnas.
For mother’s day, Bar Idda offered a 5-course meal for $50 per person. To begin, we sampled some Antipasti which included plump, preserved green olives with herbs. The Arancino had a beautifully crisp, light shell which exposed a creamy fontina cheese risotta with mixed seasonal mushrooms. I could have devoured a million of these crunchy suckers. On the side, thin slices of hand cut cacciatore salami, sliced capocollo and Sicilian salami were cured to perfection and certainly salivation inducers.
In between, I sipped a fizzy limoncello spritz. I can’t seem to avoid ordering a limoncello every time I patronise Bar Idda – it’s just so damn rare to find a decent drop of limoncello in Melbourne and Idda surely delivers. My mum enjoyed a Sicilian House Red, served in a short tumbler like Italian wine should be!
As for Primi, we were invited to choose from 3 dishes. We decided on the Mulinciani and Spaghetti Trapaense. The mulinciani consisted of delicate, melty layers of eggplant intermingled with tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil and sharp pecorino cheese. If heaven had a mouthfeel, it would be this.
For Secondi we opted to try all 3 offerings. The Pesce spada, perfectly barbecued swordfish with maccu (a traditional meshing of dried and crushed fava beans and fennel) and black olive.
The ricotta gnocchi served with mushrooms were like popping small, delicate clouds into my mouth, with a kick of lemon.
Agnello all’Eoliana arrived in the form of a 4 hour roasted lamb shoulder Aeolian style. The rich lamb meat fell apart at the hint of my fork and even though I was oh so full at this point, I managed to eat every last piece of this succulent dish.
While the greens were left somewhat untouched due to the sheer volume of the other offerings, each had such a wonderfully interesting flavour combination;
‘Nzalata di casa – House salad of chicory, celery, sultana, dijon & lemon vinaigrette (not pictured)
Capunata – Sweet and sour fried eggplant, zucchini, celery, capers, green olives
After a pause to rub our stomachs and to sip a coffee, dessert arrived. Torta di Noci – Walnut cake, poached rhubarb and homemade yoghurt and thick, bouncy slabs of quince delight served on the side. Since I am profusely allergic to nuts, the staff were happy to cater to my allergies and offered a light dessert of poached pear, rhubarb and yoghurt.
Bar Idda is the perfect place for a special occasion dinner and offers a charming setting. If the weather is decent, the small courtyard at the back is well worth whiling the summer months away, limoncello in hand.