When I think of delicious Italian or Mediterranean cuisines, my mouth instantly starts to salivate. I immediately picture bold flavours, with beautiful ingredients and sharp, tangy cheeses or smooth silky olive oils. For those who adore the food that comes from the other side of the world like I do, you'll know there's just so much more to it than pasta and pizza.
In Perth we're really lucky that there are some truly fantastic Italian restaurants to choose from when dining out. So I have to admit Divido has been sitting on a big long list of 'to try' places otherwise known as my wishlist.
But my chance to try it finally came this week when I took my good friend Linda out for dinner as our way of celebrating her birthday. I do so love birthday dinners instead of presents, it's a nice excuse to splash out on yummy food and catch up at the same time.
Vodka lemon lime and bitters
We arrive for our booking at 6pm - an early dinner since we're both coming straight from work. The restaurant is just opening but they don't skip a beat in seating us and presenting menus, plus water. Immediately I note just how much I like the decor - it's warm, cozy and dimly lit. Hell for food blogging photos but great for a nice night out.
Whenever Linda and I go out for dinner we always start off with a drink, so we dive into the menu with interest. Unfortunately they don't do any cocktails here which is a bit of a shame, so Linda ends up settling for a Vodka, Lemon, Lime & Bitters ($12).
I choose a white wine which I sadly can't remember what it was - but it was grouped as similar properties to a SSB ($14). Whatever the name, it was a nice smooth drop that went well with the courses that soon followed.
Once our drink orders are placed we settle in on the more important business of the night - the food. In our usual ordering fashion we decide to pick a couple entrees to share between us, and then choose separate mains.
Linda's immediately drawn to the Handmade Sourdough Bread ($8) and we both love the sound of the Beef Carpaccio ($23). Our waiter smiles at our choices, confirming with us that they're a great combination to order together. My stomach immediately starts rumbling once he walks away - I'm ready to eat!
Thankfully the food doesn't take long to come out and I have to admit it looks (and smells) phenomenal. The sourdough is flecked with poppy seeds and is warm to the touch. There's a nice crunchy outside, and the inside is so, so soft - a perfect vessel for soaking up the olive oil and balsamic provided.
The beef carpaccio is a really fantastically modern take on a classic dish. The beef is sliced so thin it actually is see-through in some parts; topped with porcini mushrooms, shallots, rocket and shaved parmesan. It's so rich and decadent!
The layer of olive oil that coats the ingredients lifts it all, and makes it even more punchy as we chew away. This is a dish that definitely is worth returning for on it's own.
When it comes to choosing mains, there's six or so dishes to muse over - but all sound incredible. Linda picks the Wood Roasted Potato Gnocchi ($36) which comes with pancetta, quail, spinach, olive and porcini jus.
It comes out with perfect potato pillows, lightly caramelised on each side. The quail meat is so tender and moorish; the soft gnocchi a nice accompaniment. I like how each ingredient works in harmony with the others, and all lets the quail be the real star of the dish.
I enjoy my dish, but as a HUGE gnocchi fan, this took my heart with the bite she offered. A definite winner though I have to admit for $36, it's a little on the small side, but the flavours make it worthwhile.
For my dish, I decide to go for something a little different, choosing the Mushroom & Cauliflower Lasagne ($36). It comes with creme fraiche, radicchio and toasted hazlenuts.
When it comes out I'm wowed by how rustic and inviting it looks. It's more like a warm winter salad than a lasagne, but it's delicious. The radicchio is bitter, the cauliflower sweet. I like the earthiness of the mushrooms which are firm but just slightly soft at the same time. The fresh pasta sheets inside are cooked al dente, and after going for a stint in the oven some have an enjoyable crispness to their edges.
As the only vegetarian main dish on the menu, it's actually quite hearty and doesn't make you feel like you're snacking on light ingredients like lettuce.
Though we're both in a happy place after our entrees and mains, we are definitely girls that love ordering dessert. Linda orders a latte to start things off, and chooses from the selection the Chocolate and Hazelnut Zuccotto ($15). This is the only gluten-free dessert, and one that is very traditional.
It's an ethereally light chocolate cake with a hazelnut layer, accompanied by a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream and cocoa nibs. Wow. What a gorgeous dessert - smooth, light and just chocolatey enough to keep you coming back for more.
Unfortunately Linda's latte is a bit of a different story. It looks as pretty as a picture (whoops I forgot to take a photo) but it's bitter and slightly burnt. She drinks maybe a third before giving up. What a shame because everything else she'd consumed that night was great!
For my dessert I opt for the Apple & Pecan Crostata ($15) which comes with spiced honey and turkish delight ice-cream.
The crostata pastry is thick and crunchy, but buttery and sugary at the same time. I like the inside which has apples, dates and pecans - a heavenly combination. It's like a Mediterranean version of an apple pie that's rustic and delicious though a little heavy.
But my favourite part of the dessert is definitely the turkish delight ice-cream. Sweet, rose flavoured and tickled pink it is amazing. I love the creaminess of the texture, and the crunch that comes from the crumbs positioned underneath.
It was a sweet ending to a beautiful night out. That's all I can say because from start to finish I thoroughly enjoyed dining at Divido and can see why it has won so many awards in the food industry.