We didn’t know much about Farelli’s when our foursome made the decision to head their way, except that it was Italian and at Steamer Wharf.
We should have thought to make a booking because clearly many others knew a lot more than us and had packed out the quite sizeable restaurant on this miserable Saturday night.
We were very thankful when staff went to the trouble of finding us a table. Our friendly waiter promptly brought our menus and we were not slow to start ordering.
For the antipasto course Tania had to have the Arancini – risotto balls filled with beef and mozzarella ($11) – which we all shared and loved.
Farelli’s roast garlic bread with fresh parsley ($8.50) arrived with a roasted garlic clove on each slice of bread – an imaginative touch.
Options for the main course included pasta, mains and pizzas along with some sides.
We wanted to ensure we got a mix so Shaun went with the chilli prawn and garlic squid linguine with spinach, lemon and olive oil ($27).
He loved the blend of flavours and commented on the delicately cooked seafood.
Tania’s slow-cooked porchetta belly with crispy crackling popcorn, chilli romensco and gourmet potatoes ($29) was a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy. A surprisingly large meal it had a bit of everything – fallapart pork, delicious chunks of crackling and potatoes she kept calling for the rest of us to try – they were so good.
Karl had the garlic prawn pizza with roast red peppers and lemon rocket ($22) which had a perfect thin base, juicy plump prawns and a topping (as did most of the meals) of fresh basil.
My own ‘‘authentic’’ chicken parmigiana with whipped polenta and warm tomato confit ($26) was also delicious. Perhaps one of the simplest meals of the evening it was made by the confit. We were really thrilled with the trouble staff went to to get us seated and the time wait staff took to explain the menu and wine to us.
Our waiter patiently worked through all of the Italian wine options before we settled on the only rose on the menu – a George Michel from Marlborough ($42) – more dry than anticipated but very much in keeping with the food and atmosphere.
We did find it a little bit strange when the knives we did not use during the antipasto course were cleared away and the cutlery intended for our mains, much of which we had inadvertently used, remained.
And there were a few lapses in concentration on this busy Saturday night with empty beer bottles being left on the table and after a request for them to be removed we needed to make a further request to order new ones.
Farelli’s could be at risk of feeling like a box but the lighting, paper table cloths on top of traditional red and white checks and the busy atmosphere made it feel really homely and relaxed. The exposed brick work, wood and eclectic mix of pictures gave an authentic, rustic feel.
We checked out the kids menu to ensure there was one then requested the pens other kids were using to draw on the disposable table cloth – an excellent pastime for adults also!
As happy birthday rung out at another table, we, along with many other patrons, joined in – a reflection of the relaxed feeling.
We were very impressed with Farelli’s. Authentic Italian food complimented by knowledgeable staff who did a great job of tending tables under the pressure of a consistently full house.