87 High Street
Doncaster VIC 3108
+61 3 9816 3555
There are Saturday nights when you really can’t be bothered. That is, bothered with the whole getting ready to go out for a night in town. When the weather is this bad and when work, uni essays and mopey friends (hi Martin) have been draining your arse all month, putting on your nicest black frock, make-up and a pair of Stuart Weitzman stilettos is the last thing you want to do. Thank goodness, however, for suburban family restaurants. If it weren’t for places such as Brunelli, I would be at home in my PJs and making myself a cup of Suimin cup noodles (chicken and prawn, naturally) for dinner.
Here at Brunelli, a local favourite, you can rock up with your sexy date – maybe the yr.12 maria from Siena College, you know, the one you picked up at Shoppo two Fridays ago – or you can bring your grandparents here to celebrate grandpop’s birthday. Or, you can rock up in jeans and hoodies like we did and settle down, without a booking, for some trusty ol’ better-than-La-Porchetta Anglo-Ital fare. We rocked up just before 7 one rainy Saturday night, thinking that it wouldn’t be at all busy only to be told that while they CAN seat us, we had to be out within 45 minutes. Doable.
This is normally where I would stick an arbitrary non-food photo, such as a crappy shot of the interior or the exterior, or a stealth shot of a hottie waiter but unfortunately, I have none of those for this entry. I know, shocking isn’t it? Anyway, like I said before, the food isn’t authentic Italian nor is it “rustic” (which seems to be the buzz word when it comes to describing Italian food these days). It’s just bastardised Italian food in a restaurant on the corner of a strip of take-away stores. And sometimes that sort of stuff is just what we needed.
We received our drinks faster than a Valentino Rossi lap on Phillip Island (a Crown lager for Adam and a glass of riesling for myself – I can’t remember what, I wasn’t taking notes as I’ve done way too much of that lately at uni). Then just as I had finished my first sip, our basket of herb bread arrived ($6) in the form of neat uneven triangles that were slightly crispy, yet chewy. Flecks of dried oregano, rosemary and salt created a lovely subtle flavour that would have been so much more awesome with some garlic but I suppose you can’t always be a winner.
We shared two mains. First up, a large salsiccia pizza ($17). I wasn’t expecting much from the pizza but Adam and I were pleasantly surprised when we bit into our first slice. The flavours of the Italian pork sausage, the earthy mushrooms, the sweet caramelised onions and tomatoes which were tied down by mozzarella cheese like a girlfriend whipping her man (*cough*) all came together extremely well. The wood-fried base was crispy, yet it still retained that dough-y-ness that Aussies have come to love thanks to Pizza Hut and the likes. I wouldn’t say the pizza was as delicious as the ones at say, Ladro (though Adam begs to differ), but it certainly was pretty good for Doncaster fare.
Finally, we had a tortellini alla panna ($15), ‘meat’-filled tortellini with a simple mushroom and creamy tomato sauce. This dish reminded me of the sort of pasta they serve at Sofia’s though I’m not sure whether the pasta at Brunelli is home-made. In any case, it’s nothing better than what you can whip up at home with a packet of Latina tortellini from the supermarket and a decent home-made sauce (after all, making creamy tomato sauces ain’t rocket science). While it didn’t taste bad, I WAS expecting it to be better in light of how good our herb bread and pizza was but oh well. As we were trudging through the pasta and pizza, we both looked at each other as if to say, ‘Sht, we really shouldn’t have ordered the herb bread.’ In the end, we did finish everything and left just as the dining room got EXTREMELY busy. Although we had a pretty good meal, I definitely wouldn’t take a date here (I wouldn’t say it’s romantic, think of it as a quieter Sofia’s with carpet instead of timber floors) nor would I take my grandfather here (he lives in Indonesia, for starters) but I won’t hesitate coming back when I feel like going out to have a carb-licious feed without driving long distances or prepping myself. We walked away only $39 lighter (thank you, Entertainment Book) … and with bloating of the epic kind (ugh). And then went straight home to watch the footy and check Supercoach scores. Ah, to be homebodies.