The European Café, Norwood Parade.
Ahh, the smell of freshly grated parmesan cheese and the hum of Elvis envelops the black leather topped chairs, dark wooden tabletops and the characteristic diner style booths accompanied by wooden-framed Campari and roman angel prints. I’ve stepped into the late 50’s into an Establishment that is celebrating 40 years on the Parade.
If as a South Australian, you have not heard of the European Café then I’m glad I’m getting to tell you about this Institution now Since 1959 the European Café has lived on Norwood’s, "The Parade" and was the first Pizzeria in the suburb. In 1979 Giorgio and Gabriella Cavuoto (who were 20 and 17 at the time ) bought the café and have held onto it for 40 years. The pizzeria developed into an all-inclusive café and is now considered a restaurant, including venue hire for functions in its expansive list of specialities similar to its extensive menu. Whilst chatting to Gabriella, she often would lift her head to acknowledge customers by name and ask them if they wanted, "their usual table" where the customers would greet all the staff and take their seat as if coming to nonna's house for dinner. "We get regulars all the time, even when we try to change the menu, they know their favourite and I remember every menu item by heart so we will always make it for them".
The couple wanted to build something they could pass down to their children, a feat in which they succeeded as now all three sons work with their parents, one in particular who has returned home from Sydney as an internationally recognised chef. Comfortably in our booth we enjoyed a Campari, a glass of red shiraz from Mother’s Milk and a white from Scarpantoni's. The home that is the European Café for Gabriella, Giorgio and their three sons includes only letting, "family" through the door – Gabriella spoke of her wine suppliers with such high regard that you could feel the heart that has kept this establishment alive for 40 years. The couple derive from an Italian background, their menu influenced from the regions of Beneveto, Cosenza and Treviso. Whilst their menu is predominantly southern Italian, based on what they ate as children and their families’ hospitality backgrounds in the well-known restaurants Sorrento, Amalfi and Nano, they have included touches of Northern Treviso with their risotto and polenta.
Overlooking the hanging wine glass, arch-way bar is a sea of tables and we took a back seat in a comfortable booth while we sampled their classic gnocchi tartuffo, truly a potato dumpling heaven with a mushroom porcini truffle topped with parmigiano. We also tried the Carpaccio, the Amatriciana pasta (so satisfying!), the Tutto Carne Pizza – a thin based, "all meat" pizza, the L'insalatacaprese – the fior di latte fresh and abundant with colour and my favourite delicacy basil atop all items (truly Italian!), Pesce in Umido – praws, squid, fish and mussels in a tomato basil potted broth, the contemporary take on a traditional meal, "polenta chips".
For Dolci (sweets), we enjoyed the Panna cotta served with almond biscuit (gluten free) and poached strawberries. Panna cotta is a gluten free dessert with Gabby tries to ensure she can offer gluten free options in most of her dishes. We also savoured the Bomba Alaska – a caramel explosion in our mouth, offering something outside the traditional menu - with a side of short black from Rio Coffee, of course!
Some items can be made gluten free, the staff are more than happy to recommend a wine pairing, offer you an Aperitivo after dinner or find a way to ensure you can eat whatever dish they offer you allergies and preferences alike.
400 Gradi, The Parade Norwood
The coveted pizza emporium that took Melbourne’s Lygon Street by storm has graced Adelaide with its presence. TheGradi Group has now expanded its pizzeria (and pasta, and lots of other yummy things) outside of Victoria come to the other (and in our opinion better - ofcourse, that’s biased) foodie state of Australia. 400 Gradi found its humble beginnings in Lygon Street’s little Italy, jumped over to a spot in Melbourne’s Crown Casino under the name of "Gradi" and two other expansions in Essendon and Eastland Victorianow finds itself in Norwood’s Prade.South Australia’s Eastern Suburbs, akin to LygonSteet, have a strong European and Italian culture making the Parade the perfect stomping ground for this award-winning eatery (in 2014 Johnny DiFrancesco won the world’s best pizza maker award).
Johnny Di Francesco and his wife Maria know the true way to make napoletano pizza (high thick crusts and deep pastry coves for the sugo to properly fill with flavor and ofcourse – cooked at 400 "gradi!"). Our favourite on the menu is their margarita pizza (done the right way, no fresh tomato!) and we add prosciutto crudo, starting with arancini balls and a plate of gnocchi. and we like to add prosciutto crudo. Open Sunday – Thursday 12-10pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 12p-11pm.
You will be charmed by the faux vines, the marble top counters, sleek black matte seatery and ceramic wood ovens where you can see your pizza-makers take the pizza out of the oven. Having dined in both theand South Australian establishments, we believe - Siamo a Casa a 400 Gradi!