Sunday, December 25, 2011

Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons - (Melbourne)

  Owners Robert Marchetti and Maurice Terzini are very well known names in the Australian Italian dining scene.   Terzini first opened but then later on sold his successful Melbourne Caffé e Cucina business many years ago,  before traveling up north to Sydney to open very similar concept stores -   and at their peak now they also own a 2 Hatted restaurant Iceberg’s Dining Room in Sydney’s Bondi beach.    Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons was reintroduced back to Melbourne a few years back and much like what Neil Perry from Rockpool has done,  they have downscaled this Melbourne casino restaurant to sell simpler, approachable Italian fare.    Most produce such as Cured Meats are either proprietarily house made by Robert Marchetti himself or tailor made to their specs by suppliers (Eg. Olive Oils,  Beef, Cheeses, Wines, etc).     It kind of reminds me of Linguini Fini in HK,  although the latter group are even more ambitious in their projects!  



aka G.A.S -
Their food divide people and I agree.   Having been to this group of restaurants for many years,  I find that certain dishes are simply sublime -   whereas some dishes will have you scratching your head as to why they were ever let out of the kitchen or even off the drawing board.  It took me a lot of trial and error to work out,  and unfortunately I didn’t re-eat every dish in their staple as that previously took me years to achieve,  but lately I’m more confident of knowing what exactly to avoid.   (Their paper baked Crab Arrabiata Pasta for instance!   Which never fails to disappoint but everyone coming in the door orders one.  Or their now retired Sea-Urchin pasta in the past that was bitter and fishy everytime.)    Yet -   there are dishes here which are done perfectly indeed.



House Made Charcuterie Meats -
Using mostly black Berkshire Pigs,    I used to think they were decent but I hardly order them anymore these days,  but worth a try…  !



Even the Set Up inside -
Again reminds me of Hong Kong’s Linguini Fini.   Note the waitstaff are cladded in white laboratory ‘lab coats’.  A lot of Australian locals find this to be off-putting,  but the service was better these 2 times around than most previous visits.   G.A.S. has definitely died down a bit from its peak hype as it is much easier to get a table nowadays.  They’ve even lost their 1 Hatted Status,   but compared to some other over-hyped Italian restos in town,  they probably deserved 2 hats at its peak  relative to the rest of the world.  Minus some of the disastrous recipes appearing on the menu or executional flaws occasionally…



Bread and G.A.S. Olive Oil  (supplied by Fratelli Fresh) -
Their bread is good,  it has aroma,  unlike a lot of similar looking bread being handed up but tastes just like any white bread.    Their Olive Oil used to be one of my favourites and must-buys,  in fact I still had a 2.5 years old bottle opened and it was still amazingly fragrant!   HOWEVER,  the recent vintage of EVOO was a little heavier and less flowery fragrant,  even a little tad bitter.  I could not believe that my years old and already opened and exposed to air EVOO, performed better than this current bottle..  Sad smile



Raw Hand-dived Hervey Bay Scallops,  Pickled Dwarf Peaches, Lemon and Young Rocket – AUD$17
Those familiar with Iceberg’s Dining Room will instantly recognise the ‘dwarf peaches’,  which is truffle pickled and present in their crab with polenta dish,  and highly fragrant.   The raw scallops were of good quality indeed but needs more seasoning of sorts ~    6.9/10 



Marinated Raw Sardines,  Parsley Stalks and Lemon -  AUD $13
This is sensational and in fact worked better than some Japanese sashimi equivalents of iwashi ,  the same fish.   Not always available,  this was packed with flavours and this is one of the best raw sardine dishes I’ve tried!  ~   10/10



House Wine by the Carafe -
Some local wine that was quaffable.   They have good Italian wines here too but as a creature of habit I just don’t feel like paying the premium prices for better wines,  unless it is B.Y.O. corkage or at home.  Smile with tongue out


Parmesan Crumbed Lamb Brains,  Spring Onions with Italian inspired Tartare Sauce -  AUD $17
You see Lamb Brains a lot on the menus down South and after having a few,  I think this was the best one.  The brains were fried perfectly and not too raw-tofu like or for too long and dense.  I am not a big fan of eating brains usually but these aren’t so offensive in it’s usual ‘acquired’ taste which resembles something between gamey/fishy.   The tartare sauce was more like a gribiche sauce,  but it was the pile of curly spring onions on top which really helped to balance out the richness of this dish.   ~   10/10



Fried Lambs Brain -




Calamari Fritti,  with Zucchini and Mint -  AUD $28
This is again,  a dish noted with history,  as the old Caffe e Cucina started by the same people carried the best version around Melbourne so expectations were very high indeed!    The updated version here however,  could only be said to be disappointing.   The calamari rings suddenly became thickly cut strands,  which were fried to a very oily state and without enough batter coating.    Also without any of the original recipe’s Rocket Leaves doused with olive oil and the tartare like sauce,  this was definitely below its former standards.   A little disappointed especially considering the price tag ~     4/10


Zampone Pigs Trotter filled with our House Made Cotechino, Celery, Marjoram, Spinach – AUD$26
This was good stuff and all made in-house.  A little fatty with that gelatinous coating but the inside was correctly herbed and porky.   ~  8/10



Risotto ‘Nero’ with Squid Ink Rice, Calamari, Chili Parsley, Lemon and Garlic - AUD $29
Yet another dish with a history behind it, the Iceberg’s Dining Room’s dish is one of their signature dishes and this has trickled back down to the G.A.S. menu. Unlike the squid ink risotto I ate at Jamie’s Italian which was virtually tasteless,  the version at G.A.S. is as I remembered it from both here and at Sydney’s Iceberg’s Dining Room, full of squid as well as a balanced garlic flavour. This was also cooked al dente as expected, and the chopped up calamari pieces were flavourful.  And also unlike the Jamie’s Italian version this wasn’t overly chili hot either, with the final richness cut down with the lemon. Very great tasting dish except for too much olive oil, but even the rice grains were nice and fat unlike the cheaper one served at Jamie’s. ~ 9.5/10




Roasted Macleay Valley Organic Suckling Pig,
served with fennel, onion,  celery gratin, roasted peppers and potatoes.  (Avail on Suns) -  $38
This is only avail during Sunday lunches usually but the kitchen said they had left-overs from a quiet lunch.   I knew this was onto something disastrous but someone wanted to give it a try anyway.   Whilst the skin was crispy,  the meat was dried out tough and the garnitures were rather boring.   Even the potatoes were wet and chewy.   I suspect this might just become a better dish if it was ordered at the right time of when it is MEANT to be served,  but the kitchen should have known better to dish it out?    ~    2/10






Price: AUD $50 to $80 person (night)
Food:  ♕♕♕ 1/2 to  ♕♕♕♕♕♕  (Much like Linguini Fini in Hong Kong,  some dishes are of amazing quality and thoughtfulness,  but some are average only relative to the promised recipe.  It takes too many guesses by the customers to know what they should or should not order though that’s part of the fun when eating out!   It’s beautiful food only when you order the right stuff.)

Address:  8 Whiteman St Crown Entertainment Complex, Melbourne,  Australia
Ph: (03) 9694 7400


  1. So ordering is like playing russian roulette here?! NOOOOO

  2. Yes unfortunately and it was an expensive exercise which spanned over a long time!

    Their desserts are also a bit underwhelming, although there are certainly some dishes HERE which are out of this world good ! Miss individual dishes, rather than the whole restaurant : )

  3. hey there :)

    Great blog you have here! Recently found you cuz I'm in HK visiting family and friends for a few months!

    Just wondering are you from Melbourne too? Because it seems like you visit quite frequently hehe

  4. Hi Daisy!

    Yeh I lived mostly in Melbourne but now back to Hong Kong ar - and really wanted to compare some restaurants from everywhere, just for fun : )

  5. Nice :) no wonder i keep seeing reviews from Melbourne appear in your blog ~ why did you leave? You should come back and visit hehe I'm sure Melbourne misses you ~

    I'm so new to this whole blogging scene just started out a few weeks ago ~ hehe really like how you're able to give stars and list out the prices of all the items hehe

    Keep up the great work! Looking forward to following your blog!

    Happy New Years in advance!!!

  6. Thanks and I am definitely very starting to miss Melbourne, especially the coffees : D

    Happy New Years to you too... We should meet if I return back to Aust soon, which might not be too far away :D

  7. hey sorry :) i only just saw your comment hehe

    Definitely would love to meet up with you when you come back to Aus :) hahaha you've gotta take me around Melbourne ~ you seem to know all the places I've never been nor heard of!

    Hope you're enjoying Hong Kong too and hope to see u in Melb soon!



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