Heard of Svago? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean this Italian gem isn’t worth hearing about. It just means word hasn’t got out…yet. Svago opened just a little too late to be included in this year’s recently released Age Good Food Guide but once this restaurant starts getting press it’s going to be harder and harder to score a seat.
Lucky, I managed to book the last two on a recent Saturday night and was impressed with the tiny restaurant’s pumping vibe. It was full, the staff were buzzing and speaking snippets of Italian to all and sundry and the food was delicious.
I've heard whispers bread is usually plonked on the table seconds after you sit but for some reason we missed out on that wagon. No matter, we were quickly distracted by the menu anyway. Svago’s dishes are all designed to be shared and are divided into small (stuzzichini) or big (piatti) plates. For two, the staff advice you choose two small dishes and three of the larger plates. Prices are about $6-$10 for the smaller and about $16-$20 for the larger. We started with a selection of four tiny bruschette ($9) featuring ocean trout with goat’s cheese, marinated mushrooms, mozzarella and cherry tomatoes and cured tuna. Each tiny morsel was a taste sensation and prepared us well for what was to come.
A bowl of silverfish and sea algae fritters ($6) started us off followed by the porchetta di ariccia (slow-cooked pork with toasted bread, $16), risotta al salto nero (squid ink risotto with squid and prawns, $17) and stracotto (a trio of braised beef tastes in tomato sauce, $19). Each dish looked small to our hungry stomachs but they packed a decent punch and, by the end of the five plates and a bottle of Italian pinot grigio ($39), we were satisfied.
Satisfied that is, except for dessert .
The degustation plate ($25) included three of the four dessert options from the menu and for us that meant a dome-shaped lemon sponge, an almond and orange chocolate pudding with blood orange syrup and a cannoli which was filled with coffee zabaglione. Each was a delight: the sponge with the perfect amount of lemon tartness, the pud with the right mix of choc and orange and the cannoli, the lightest and tastiest canolli I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.
My only hesitation with Svago is a product of its location. Yes, the food was great and yes, the atmosphere was noisy and busy – just what you want on a Saturday night. But Svago is in the heart of Kew so expect to be surrounded by tables of middle aged couples, which of course is fine if you are a middle-aged couple but if not, perhaps not the vibe you’re looking for. The food however, bellissimo!