A few weeks ago I handed in my notice to finish up at my workplace of a year. I had been working full-time in a legal department, where we referred applicants to solicitors on a pro bono basis. While I was pleased at having reached the one year mark and stuck it out through the highs and lows of the role, most of the people that I had known when I began the role had since left; and I felt that it was about time that I take a graceful bow out.
My first concern when I handed in my notice was that I would no longer have any guinea pigs available to sample my excess of baked goods… But I was reassured (tongue-in-cheek) by my soon-to-be-ex-colleagues that if I needed tasters I was more than welcome to continue bringing in the sweets! I’m sure their bellies will have a much-needed break from all of the calories I’ve forced them to consume over the last year…
The boss invited me to have lunch with her on my last afternoon, and when she asked where I would like to go, I suggested that she choose. The downside of people knowing you’re a food blogger means that you get asked advice as to where people should go, or to be the one to make the call as to where to eat. I hate having this responsibility, as just because I had a good time somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean that another person will have an equally good time.
I was more than happy when she suggested La Rosa, the sister pizzeria to the schmancy Pendolino’s in The Strand.
Located upstairs, there are three areas you can sit in La Rosa. The front balcony, the front of the restaurant which is moodily lit and where the bar is located, or the large, main room where there are high windows overlooking the lunchtime rush of Pitt Street Mall and you can just view the chefs from the service counter. It’s a spacious, well-lit area and the carpeting effectively keeps the volume of the lunchtime chatter to a minimum.
We decide to start in a civilised manner with some Bruschette: Salmone con Trifolata di Funghi, or Bruschetta with Smoked Salmon & Mushroom ($16.90):
Three is an incredibly difficult number when dining for two. But luckily the bruschetta, even toasted, was quite a soft bread and could be cut easily with a butter knife. The mushrooms were incredibly buttery and tender, and had been topped with fragrant truffle oil, and the smoked salmon was very fresh and not overly-salty.
Our pizzas arrived, and we had somewhat under-estimated their size. It was a little confusing when I was reading the menu as it didn’t state how large the pizzas were, but my boss reassured me that she has been able to eat an entire pizza to herself before. So I had taken her word for it, but it seems like she has a much more prodigious appetite than me!
My Funghi: Pizza Bianca with Porcini Puree, Portobello Mushrooms and Mozzarella ($25.50), was easily at least 30cm in diameter. Fragrant with yet more tender mushrooms and the heady fragrance of porcini and truffle oil, the mozzarella was delightfully stretchy and milky, and the base perfectly thin and crisp. I managed to consume three slices of this – and a slice of my boss’s – before I had to concede defeat. Luckily, the staff are more than happy to package it in a pizza box for you to takeaway; and take it away we did afterwards for the rest of the office.
The boss had gone for the classic Margherita: Tomato, Mozzarella and Sweet Basil ($19.90):
I was pretty amused at the three large splodges of melted mozzarella and made sure – when offered to swap a piece – to take a piece that had lots of the gloriously stretchy cheese. It was quite a saucy ( 😉 ) tomato base, and quite sweet. I’m not usually one to just order a margherita pizza all to myself, more as one of a few pizzas shared among a group, but as margheritas go, it was quite tasty.
With the final choice of dessert, I was umming and ahhing over whether or not to order from the impressive list of affogatos, but the boss mentioned that when she was doing exchange in Italy, she remembered the mother of the household she was staying in making potato dough doughnuts; she remembered them being incredibly good, and wondered if La Rosa’s would be anything like those of her adolescent years.
Considering I’ve been craving doughnuts for a while, I decided to give in and so ordered the Zeppola: the Traditional Potato Dough Doughnuts with Vanilla Bean Gelato ($14.50).
Doughnut would be a more accurate way to describe it as it’s singular. But Huge. We both peered at the twig lying across the ball of gelato, as really, you couldn’t call it anything other than a twig! I offered the boss a bite, before I dug in. And “dig in” is such an appropriate verb. The doughnut was gorgeously crispy and slightly crunchy in a savoury way on the outside from being deep fried, giving way to a velvety soft, quite light (hah!) centre. The doughnut itself wasn’t particularly sugary, but the hot caramel sauce and the vanilla bean gelato certainly added their contributions to the dish. Delightful.
I will have to admit that semi-casual (non-Asian food) dining options in the middle of the CBD are quite scarce. But with La Rosa being beautifully furnished, centrally located and having quite a reasonably priced menu that would appeal to a wide range of palates, it’s certainly a spot to keep in mind.
La Rosa Bar & Pizza
Shop 133, Level 2
The Strand Arcade, 193 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9223 1674