Chasing a Plate dined as guests of Pacinos Italian Family Restaurant
A good old fashioned family restaurant must be a godsend to parents. A place where you can eat your chicken parma in relative peace without having to suffer the stares of other diners when your kid throws a tanty or chucks food on the floor. Cobb & Co used to be our family restaurant of choice. When we were kids, nearly every special occasion was celebrated there, the staff were like family, the traffic lights were ace and the adults could enjoy a night out without having to worry about offending other diners with our presence. Granted it was pretty much the only restaurant in Whangarei (a town in Northland, New Zealand) in the 1980s- but still, you get my drift.
It seems Pacinos Italian Family Restaurant is to a lot of families what Cobb & Co was to us- there are lots of tables of smiling and relaxed groups tucking into their Saturday lunch on the day we visit. Pacinos’ menu caters for most- they have the expected pizzas, pasta but also offer salads, burgers, steak, even fish and chips. They do breakfast (separate menu), lunch and dinner and have a range of lunch specials and a $10 parma night on Mondays ($10!)
We sample some bites from their starters- aranccini which is satisfyingly cheesy, tender calamari fritti and big, flavour packed meatballs. Their antipasto platter is good too- it’s loaded with chorizo, proscuitto, olives, sundried tomatoes and a range of other tasty morsels.
You might worry that with such a wide ranging menu that Pacinos might fall into the trap of doing everything, but nothing well. But, on our table we canvass the menu- there’s pizza, the Angus burger, the mixed grill, even lamb couscous and everyone is pretty happy so don’t be put off!
We eat the BBQ pork spare ribs which come with a side of wedges and a salad. The sides are pretty standard and the star of the show is definitely the ribs. Sticky, tender and meaty. These are seriously good.
The homemade gnocchi is panfried and tossed with pumpkin, spinach and topped with creamy goats curd. The slightly crisp gnocchi has great texture from the pan and the tried and true combination of goats curd, spinach and pumpkin is a winner.
It might not be the type of place for a first date nor should you expect fancy, but Pacinos serves hearty, rib-sticking food in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Not much more you can ask from a family restaurant is there?
Good to know:
Calamari fritti $15.90
Antipasto for 2 $24.90
Homemade gnocchi $24.90
BBQ pork spare ribs (full rack) $39.90
Pacinos Italian Family Restaurant
300 Epsom Road
Telephone: +61 3 9376 4888
Open 7 days 11:00am to 10:00pm
Images: Thomas Southam