Villa Romana – Cairns

Today on The Dining Diaries,

A bruschetta dish suffers an identify crisis while bacon plays hide and seek (and wins)
Pizza dough so light we barely thought about the calories and,
A restaurant so noisy and bustling, we were spared having to make polite conversation.

photo-4.jpgThe Spoon You Fork Me team were in Cairns back in February and Villa Romana was a place we had walked past at least once a day.
We always intended to try it out but it just never worked out that way.

Four months later and we were back in Cairns and this time, we were going to stop in!
This place seems to be perpetually full of people and it was no different tonight with a triathlon on this weekend. Every restaurant in Cairns was exceptionally busy and so was Villa Romana.

When hubby and I walked by, there were no tables available and our host gave us the option of waiting at the bar but we decided to come back later.

Thirty minutes later and this three hundred plus seat restaurant was still completely full but we decided to wait and it wasn’t too long before we were shown to a table.
The menu was typically Italian although I did spot an interesting salad I wanted to try.

We ordered the Capricciosa Pizza, a Bruschetta and Insalata di Spinaci which was a salad of baby spinach, sliced apple, roasted walnuts, crispy bacon and zesty lemon dressing.

Surprisingly, although the restaurant was full, food was coming out quite quickly.

The table behind us ordered a calzone and it looked enormous as it was brought to the table. When it was cut into, it soon deflated however I could still see lots of cheese and filling in there.
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Our food came and I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed when I saw my bruschetta.
It was on pizza dough.

The menu didn’t say it would be on pizza dough.
I was expecting it on toasted continental bread.
If I’d wanted a pizza, I would have ordered one!

The only difference between hubby’s pizza and my bruschetta were the shape and the toppings…

However, the dough was SOOOO fresh and light. They have wood ovens at Villa Romano and you can taste that wood oven taste in their pizza’s. Smoky, crisp and delicately light, topped with quality toppings.

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This place knows how to do pizza!
My bruschetta was good. I got over the disappointment of how it was made. I really love basil pesto and that was prominent on this bruschetta however in places it was heavily salted and that was a bit disappointing too.

IMG_6379The salad was exceptional and definitely my favourite. Such a wonderful combination of foods!!
I had to read the menu again though as I was sure it had said crispy bacon but I couldn’t taste any. It was either so subtle I couldn’t taste it, or not in there at all.

I’m not a bacon lover though so it didn’t disappoint me that there was potentially no bacon. I really loved this salad. The spinach was fresh, the walnuts were crunchy and the apple brought a delicious sweetness. Everything worked so well together.

Hubby had no complaints about his pizza. I tried a bit and yes, his dough was definitely the same taste as mine.

FullSizeRender (34)All in all we had a nice time here. It was good to be in a busy, bustling place but it was hard if you wanted to actually have a conversation because it was just soooo noisy! I’d hate to be here on a first date.

Hubby and I ended up people watching and communicating the way most people who have been together many years do, with minimal conversation.
Next time we’re in Cairns I want to try their breakfast buffet as that has caught my eye once or twice in the past!

Have you been to Villa Romano’s?

What did you think?

Let me know in the comments below!
Till next we chow…

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Hogs BreathCafe – Cairns

CairnsToday on the Dining Diaries..

An old favourite is revisited,
Wait staff serve their customers with permanent smiles on their faces and
we leave our mark on the walls!

0508894ade6cbccaa72f9095b1d05b1d.jpgToday the Spoon You Fork Me team are at Hogs Breath Cafe in Cairns.
While most of Australia is suffering through horrendous Winter weather, Cairns is basking in sunshine. I feel like I don’t want to leave this place!!

You may remember we reviewed Hogs Breath Cafe once before but that was the restaurant at Glenelg. I was interested to see if our experience would be any different.

Once again, as we enter we just feel happy. There’s something about that place that makes you expect to have a good time.
A gentlman greeted us at the door and gave us some pleasant small talk, took us to a table and told us someone would be along shortly.
Within a minute a waitress came smiling from ear to ear like she was our best friend. It’s not a criticism, it’s a good thing. It makes you feel like you’re in a place people want to be.
In fact I watched the wait and kitchen staff and they all seemed happy to be doing their jobs even when out of sight of diners.

FullSizeRender (33)I love the atmosphere in this place and the way it’s decorated which seems to be the same Australia wide. Although I took these pictures in relatively empty corners of the restaurant, there were quite a few people in there all having a nice relaxing time.

The inital gentleman who greeted us and the waitress both asked if we’d dined their before making sure we knew what food they offered and how to order.
Our waitress then told us about the special – Steak parmigiana with grilled capsicum and mozzarella cheese on top. That sounded yummy to hubby so he ordered that one. I went for an old favourite that I haven’t had for a while, grilled steak sandwich.

While waiting for the food, I looked around trying to see other people’s food, and another waitress, not the one serving our table, came up to me thinking I was wanting help or wanting to order something else or ask another question. It was things like that that really elevated our experience here.

FullSizeRender (32)My steak sandwich came with sweet potato wedges. I know these are the in things right now but I just find they don’t crisp up like potato wedges do. Still, they tasted nice once I added a bit more salt. The grilled steak sandwich was superb!!
In my experience, some places try to add too many sauces to this type of  meal making it almost impossible to eat without getting it all down your hands. This sandwich had just the perfect amount and the steak was gloriously tender and thick. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t had this type of food for a while but I was super impressed!

FullSizeRender (31)Hubby was happy with his too. I was curious to know what the grilled capsicum was like on top as I don’t normally associate that with a parmigiana but he said it was really tasty and went well. He said his meat was cooked and seasoned well. I tried some of his veggies and there was just no salt on them. They were just plain boiled veggies.
I know you can’t presume to know how much salt to put on veggies but no salt and no seasoning?  Makes me wonder why bother to have them at all! But that’s only a very small criticism as we enjoyed our meal here and felt pretty full when we walked out!

I also loved how the waitress came to check how our meals were a few minutes after we’d got them. That doesn’t happen as much as it should and sometimes things aren’t quite right and I don’t like to make a scene so I don’t say anything. If someone were to ask me however, I might have the courage to mention it and I liked that we were asked and the waitress was not just expecting a stock answer but genuinely wanting to make sure all was ok.

Hogs Breath Cairns is not really in an area frequented by a lot of foot traffic which is shame. I’m sure they do get their fair share of customers but if you ever do find yourself in Cairns, I would recommend a ten minute walk from the Esplanade to visit Hogs Breath.

Have you been here?
What was your experience?
Let me know in the comments below…

Till next we chow…