Criniti’s sure has revamped itself from the first time I ever went, well over 6 years ago. It was a place the boy and I would go regularly on dates, and the place to have birthday lunches/dinners with friends. I honestly can’t remember where we got the money to eat as we were high school students then but clearly my love for food started many, many years ago. Along with the physical renovations of the restaurant itself, the menu has changed with it. It has become more authentic over the years, and even adopting the proper Italian language for the different categories.
Sadly I can’t recap my first visits to the restaurant. It would have been great to so I could show the difference in the dishes available. Anyways, first up sees my visit to Criniti’s back in December 2011 with the boy’s sister and mum, before wedding dress shopping. I see all those question marks in everybody’s eyes – no, I’m not the one getting married…. not yet anyways :P It’s for the boy’s sister who will be getting married mid October.
Mediterraneo Salad $16.90
Being the ladies we are, we begin our lunch with a salad – lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onions, goats cheese, olives, cucumber, wood fire roasted capsicum and aged balsamic. As it’s a stinking hot day, it was a great way to start our feed with something light with fresh produce and amazing balsamic. The roasted capsicum was a standout for me.
Capricossa Wood Fired Pizza $27.50
To share we have the capricossa pizza with double smoked ham, mushrooms, mozzarella, basil and olives. We purposely chose something with minimal toppings as we wanted to keep it light (especially with the bride to be trying on wedding dresses shortly after). It was a good choice for us, although we didn’t find much mozzarella on the pizza and none can even be seen in the photo above.
Pollo Spiedino $34.90
None of us felt like pasta so we opted for some skewers instead. We order the pollo spiedino which was chicken breast marinated with lemon, parsley and garlic aioli. I’ve never been a huge fan of meat skewers as I find the meat is usually over cooked and really dry (yep, this means I’m not a Brazilian BBQ fan, not at all). It was no exception this time. The chicken pieces were dry. Even dipping them in the deliciously creamy garlic aioli couldn’t save them. The veggies were amazing as they were chargrilled and some slightly caramelised.
A more recent visit sees the boy and I going on a lunch date.
BBQ Pollo $27.50
When it comes to ordering pizza, the boy and I love sticking to what we know best. We very rarely steer away from our comfort zone because we hate being dissatisfied and disappointed (we’re so boring, I know) so we select the BBQ Pollo wood fired Pizza. It is a top notch fan-friggen-tastic pizza! A wonderful thin pizza base with a crusty outside is topped with flavourful bbq sugo (sauce I assume),chicken breast, mushrooms, red onion, mozzarella, and origano. Nothing beats eating pizza with extra chilli flakes on top ;)
Bucatini Santa Caterina $28.50
For once, we try a pasta dish we’ve never had before. We go for the bucatini santa caterina which has calabrian pork sausage ragu with cherry tomatoes, sugi di pomodoro (not sure what this is), basil and chilli. Initially, we were advised that the restaurant had run out of bucatini – weird because we were there for lunch service and pretty much the first customers for the day – and that it would be cooked with spaghetti instead. Upon arrival, I thought the spaghetti looked unusually over sized and it wasn’t until I asked our waiter what we actually got. A bit of confusion there, but that was long forgotten as we dug right into it. Wowsers, the bucatini had a bite to it, and we thought it was a great choice of pasta to be eaten with the super tasty pork sausage ragu. It had body and was thick enough to withhold the sauce. The oven roasted cherry tomatoes topped off the dish – amazing. It had a mighty kick with the chilli, but of course, I had to add in extra for myself. Poor Biggie A has zero chilli tolerance and was sweating like a pig, even in the middle of winter :P
I have been to Criniti’s more times that I can count on one hand. I’ve seen it go through the many changes, as well as the impressive development of Parramatta’s main dining strip, Church Street. The Parramatta Criniti’s was the original Criniti’s – it has now expanded having 4 more restaurants operating. The atmosphere has changed to suit a more authentic Italian feel, the menu items have changed and so have the prices. I have been quite fortunate to have all positive experiences so far, but that’s because I have timed my visits wisely (quite suprised at the urbanspoon rating below). Criniti’s gets extremely busy and is known for lengthy waits (do expect to wait even with a booking). Service can be a hit and miss, and the wait time for food can take a while especially if the restaurant is at full capacity. Walk ins are not recommended, especially during dinner and weekend lunch services so make sure you book before going for a feed, I assure you it’s the best thing to do.