29 Langtree Ave
Mildura, VIC 3500
Mildura is now home to a 400 Gradi location, but apparently, the best Italian in town can actually be found at The Province (if you’re not shelling out $150pp at Stefano’s, that is). And I’ll be honest – I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the produce, including some of the best lamb I’ve had for a long while. Mind you, the experience isn’t flawless – a lot of the cooking leans much too heavily on butter rather than actual flavour, and they could really afford to get rid of the Italian opera soundtrack (I’m sure the staff would be grateful) and tear up some of that old carpet overlying the nice wooden floorboards. But all in all, it’s a satisfying night out, even if it’s a bit pricey for what it is.
Rating: 13/20 – best lamb.
To-order: the lamb; surprisingly, not the pastas so much.
I came in determined to avoid seafood, after the rubbery calamari at Andy’s. But the Scallop Tortellini ($24, entrée) came highly recommended, and what do you know? The enormous scallops were plump and tender, and perfectly seared in brown butter to bring out its sweetness. Surprisingly, it was actually the hand-made tortellini that fell short, with an unremarkable centre of cheese-of-some-variety, and a slightly tough wrapper.
I love a bitta Quail ($25), and this one works well with its slightly sweet glaze and contrastingly earthy mushroom puree, even if the bird was slightly overcooked.
Remember what I said about the pasta being a let-down? Well, the Rabbit Pappardelle ($45) was pretty ordinary. Nothing wrong with it, and the noodles here had a much better texture than tortellini, but the whole thing just tasted rather flat, with the bulk of the flavour coming from the generous amounts of butter.
The Lamb Rack ($49) however was a shining example of quality Australian produce. Succulently juicy, each medallion was expertly charred to bring out the delicious fatty, savoury aroma of the meat. Good lamb is easy to get in Australia, but it’s truly been a long time since I’ve had such an exemplary rendition.
The Broccolini, Garlic, Pecorino ($12) could’ve been so good, if only they had roasted/grilled the veg. Instead, beneath the promising flurry of cheese sits blanched stalks, which were just the right amount of crisp, but nevertheless had a degree of wetness to it that definitely does not jive with pecorino.