La Villa is the casual country barnyard sibling to Senso's sophisticated classy downtown. The fare here isn't super refined or mind-blowingly great, but appeals in a rustic homey way. Also, the very affordable prices and cute old-school garden setting ups the ante in the charms department.
Oh, the parking here is fabulous in that there's loads of it! Be sure to inform the staff accordingly though, because they will discount the parking charges off your bill.
We started off with the Calamari Pirata ($19), which was very well done. The light batter coating was fried to a flaky crisp while the squid rings remained soft with a chewy yield. A fairy dusting of sweet paprika and a refreshingly chilled salsa was added seasoning.
The Merluzzo ($34) a fleshy, smooth and oily grilled cod fish would have been nicer if the skin was paper crisp for a contrasting texture. A drizzling of piquant balsamic reduction lent flavour. The saffron and rosemary mash was flavoursome but a little dry.
The Risotto ($28) was alright, but rather unmemorable. The grains were al dente and had a great bite but the duck confit was a little too rich and one-dimensional. Thank goodness the bitter accents of the asparagus kept this from getting too cloying.
The Ravioli ($28 for large) was easily the best main of the night. The veal-filled pasta pockets were hearty, grounded with a creamy earthy mushroomy sauce.
The Cioccola ($15) of a chocolate lava cake was a safe bet for dessert, the rich chocolate was balanced by the icy creamy vanilla ice-cream. It was so lovely that my girlfriends got me this little candle to celebrate a belated birthday. LUFF ya both!
The obligatory bread basket, fresh outta the oven and served warm, which helped quell a rumbling tummy.
341 River Valley Road
Tel: 6836 5286
Open daily from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch and 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner