Once upon a time I used to get very excited each time I went to Leichhardt. The suburb has its fame as a favourite Italian dining destination, and I’ve certainly had very good meals (not only Italian; Nostos is one of my top Greek choices in Sydney) there.
After watching The Trip (tickets courtesy of John from he needs food) with my sister, we wandered around Norton Street to pick a dinner spot. A quick look at the menu at Jovanotti Cafe and a bit of reassurance seeing that there were people dining both inside and in the plastic-covered terrace made us decide to stay.
The menu has a fair number of great-sounding options, so it was a bit of a struggle to choose. In fact, Gladys decided on a veal dish, but then turned the menu and discovered the “gourmet” wood-fired pizzas. She ordered the Jovanotti pizza, with prosciutto, bocconcini, olives, sun-dried tomato, artichoke, and topped with chilli olive oil.
I was in the mood of something fishy and the skewers of char-grilled seafood served with vegetables and basil sauce sounded promising. A glass of The Vines Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot for Gladys and a glass of Pinot Grigio rounded out our order.
The wait was long but it didn’t matter too much thanks to the nice rustic ambience, with a fireplace very close to our table. Sadly, a very drunk man and his not-so-drunk dining companions sitting right next to us made the experience a lot less charming.
The wine glasses arrived, mine was average, my sister’s was horrible. She thinks it was spoiled, I’m not quite sure if it was just bad quality.
Glass of Beelgara Black Label Pinot Grigio ($7.00), glass of The Vines Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot ($6.00)
But that was just the beginning. I had spotted a plate being popped in the microwave. I wanted to think it was not my meal, but sadly I’m pretty sure it was. The skewers looked very unappetizing. Like a dish a rookie home cook would put together. Four prawns of varied sizes were the highlight of the dish. Two pieces of extremely dry fish (swordfish, maybe) and two rubber-textured calamari tubes completed the seafood “feast”. They sat on top of some cauliflower florets, a few chunks of carrot, a couple of snow peas and a watery mayonnaise that had no basil at all. Being from a coastal city I’ve eaten lots of seafood dishes in my life and I can assure you this was one of the worst ever, and it wasn’t a cheap one.
Skewers of char-grilled seafood ($29.50)
On the bright side, Gladys’ pizza was not that bad. It wasn’t great, either, but much better than my meal, and decently-sized. She let me have a slice, which I treasured until the end to at least finish with a tasty morsel.
Jovanotti pizza ($19.50)
The waitress asked how was everything and got silence as an answer. Enough said.
20 Norton Street
Leichhardt NSW 2040
(02) 9560 4498