Emporio Della Pasta
Crown Casino is a bit of a wasteland for reasonably priced food. Every time I go there, usually unwillingly – although there was that time I hit up Nobu – I am underwhelmed by my dining options and spend a lot of time saying to whoever is with me, “but what are all these people actually doing here? Do they actually like Crown?”
It’s likely that those same people are looking at me and wondering what the hell I am doing there too. Let me tell you, through the power of the internet! Usually, I am there for the following reasons:
- it’s the closest cinema to home (although the screens are crap and Village should really do something about refurbishing given it’s their only city complex – I do not consider the Greater Union on Russell Street worthy of my attention);
- I am attending some sort of free lunch or breakfast, usually in the Palladium or one of those places, where work has paid for me to listen to a presentation and do all I can to eat politely in front of clients rather than using my bread and butter to wipe my plate clean, as is my way;
- Someone else has suggested it and I feel guilty about talking them out of it. Plus, they reckon it’s nice and [insert suggested restaurant] might actually break my spell of only eating crap meals at Crown!
So my friends from high school and I found ourselves in Emporio della Pasta, as a result of the third bullet above. I can only describe EDP as Crown’s answer to the suburban Sofia’s or La Porchetta. They pack people in, the servings are large, they cater to drunk cackling groups of girls (guilty!) and they do whatever it is they do, quite well. However, when it comes to the food, it’s solidly average.
I ordered the gnocchi gorgonzola as a result of dish envy of my friend’s dish when she ordered the same at the Cellar Bar (Grossi Florentino). Well – it wasn’t a patch on the Grossi version. Ugh. The gnocchi were dense gluggy little balls, drowning in sauce. I did like the pumpkin in the dish though, but you can see from the picture above I didn’t get a lot of it.
Friends’ dishes looked better, so maybe the other pasta dishes are a lot nicer. You would hope so, for a place with the word pasta in its name! The garlic and cheese pizza didn’t disappoint.
We decided to order desserts as well, which you have to ask your waiter to recite. I went for the lemon roulade, which came still on its piece of plastic that (no doubt) it had been sitting on in the fridge for ages. It was… edible.
I’m actually surprised this place rates as high as it does on Urbanspoon, but I can see it filling a niche for a quick, cheap Italian meal before a movie. I must say, the fit-out is spectacular as well, and the dining room, while accommodating a lot of people, is gorgeous to look at.
A couple of bloggers have been friendlier to the place than I have (while criticising the service): Gastrology liked the gnocchi (!) but had it with a napoli sauce, and ForkSake got a pasta dish and a good looking pizza.
As for me? Emporio Della Pasta has done nothing to shake my low opinion of the casual restaurants at Crown. The evening was saved by the company!