Criniti’s has been around for a while now. I’d heard good and bad reports about them, and finally got the chance to see what it was like for myself at a recent friend’s birthday party.

Nutella Smoothie (Nutella with milk and vanilla gelato) $8

We saw this on the menu and immediately insisted the birthday girl (who is a Nutella fan) get herself a glass. I had a sipful and it was pretty sublime – intensely creamy with a strong taste of Nutella. I really loved the presentation in the cute jar with the stripey paper straw as well.

Zucchini flowers (Lightly battered zucchini flowers with goats cheese and mascarpone) $24.90

Always a classic entree, this dish had a crispy batter and was filled with ooey gooey cheeses and did not disappoint. However I did think $6+ per zucchini was a bit of a premium price to pay, considering I have seen them cheaper at finer dining establishments.

Mozzarella & Haloumi (Wood fired D.O.P mozzarella di bufala & haloumi with chilli and semi-dried tomato) $15.90

This was a nice and cheesy start to the evening with a good hit of chilli, but I must admit it was really lacking something. I think this dish would have been much better with a note of sweetness. A splash of balsamic or runny honey would have really finished it off beautifully.

Bruschetta Caprese (Roma tomatoes, red onion, basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and D.O.P mozzarella di bufala) $10.90

Our fellow diner for the evening ordered this bruschetta on a gluten-free base and commented at the end of the evening that the base was very disappointing, had a cardboard-like texture and was burned at the edges. Not terribly impressive.

Caesar Piadini (Wood fired wrap with grilled chicken, cos lettuce, pancetta, crostini, shaved D.O.P parmigiano & caesar dressing) $16.90

This wrap was impressively large when it was delivered to the table and the diner who chose it remarked that it was great value for the size.

Tortellini alla Boscaiola (Homemade beef tortellini with cream, mushrooms, red onion, pancetta, D.O.P parmiagiano & parsley) $23.90

I tried a little of this and found it very flavoursome with a very creamy mushroom sauce, although it was a tad over-salted.

Spaghetti Pachino (homemade spaghetti, garlic, chilli, cherry tomatoes, olive oil and basil) $23.90

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio con Peperoncino (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, garlic, chilli and parsley) $24.90

This particular dish I hadn’t tried prior to visiting Italy last year. I had my first taste of spaghetti aglio e olio in Venice and was blown away at how all the unbelievably simple flavours melded together to make an incredibly flavoursome dish. I hadn’t had a chance to sample any in Australia since then and so thought I’d give it a go at Criniti’s. I took a few bites and was surprised at how salty it was and how much it lacked a strong garlicky or chilli flavour. In fact, it tasted exclusively like oily, salty pasta and really lacked the flavour I fell in love with in Italy. It was actually so salty I could only tolerate a few bites before I started to feel queasy from the amount of salt in the dish. I sent my dish back to the kitchen (which, by the way, I have never done before). The staff were happy to remake me a different meal on the menu but I didn’t really feel like eating again after that particular dish. I declined and they gave me a full refund, which I greatly appreciated.

To sum up, I think Criniti’s is a little overpriced for what it is. Sadly my pasta dish was incredibly over-salted and I found it inedible. However everyone else seemed mostly satisfied with their choices, if not finding them to also be a tad salty. I have heard excellent things about Criniti’s pizzas however (which we did not order) so it seems that it might be best to order pizza over pasta.

The service wasn’t too bad – we asked for things like parmesan cheese, which was forgotten and never brought to the table. Aside from that, they were quite friendly in trying to replace my meal with a second one, giving me a full refund and were very polite about it.

Another thing I will note is that when I booked the restaurant for a birthday and enquired about bringing a cake, the staff advised me via email that Criniti’s has a strict “no BYO” policy, which means you cannot bring birthday cakes to the premises. Instead, you choose one from their pasticceria, which you can view online here. I found this a little disappointing as their choices were again a little overpriced. Fortunately Parramatta is stuffed with plenty of nice places to visit for dessert afterwards, should that strike your fancy.

Criniti’s Parramatta on Urbanspoon

Hope you are all having a lovely week. Apologies again for being a bit sketchy in the blogosphere – only eight more weeks until the wedding and I’ve been trying hard to finish all the little last-minute details as well as trying to eat healthily and exercise like crazy (stupid corset dress *cough*).



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