SOMETIMES it’s good to revisit old favourites to see if they’re still holding their own.
Siena’s of Leederville has been an Italian institution for donkey’s years, and when we went there for dinner on Tuesday night the place was pumping and still as popular as ever.
With a huge play area visible from the dining area, the restaurant is a family favourite and there was a large number of mum and dads enjoying a mid-week meal as their kids ran amok in the play zone.
The menu had a nice range of Italian mains, pizzas, pastas, specials and kids dishes.
There were loads of options including a healthy kids meal with grilled chicken breast and salad. The restaurant also had special discounts during the week with pizza and pasta nights.
Basically, Siena’s had all the bases covered – like Joe DiMaggio in his prime.
My spaghetti marinara ($19 on pasta night) was a bargain as it usually costs $27.50.
The bowl was heaving with a bevy of delicious seafood including fleshy king prawns, tender chunks of fish, calamari and mussels.
They hadn’t skimped on the seafood, which was accompanied by a mound of gorgeous al dente spaghetti.
The star of this dish was the sauce – it had a subtle creaminess that offset the strong punch of fish and traces of chilli.
It’s the best marinara I’ve had in ages and my only gripe, if I’m being fussy, was the lack of crusty bread to mop up the sauce at the end.
Across the table my wife was enjoying her gnocchi boscaiola ($19 on pasta night).
“It has a beautiful creamy sauce with an abundance of porcini mushrooms and spinach,” she said.
“Gnocchi can be a bit of a slog if it’s not cooked properly, but these homemade potato dumplings are light and fluffy with a nice texture. It’s an indulgent, high-quality dish.”
Siena’s is a well-oiled machine and there were heaps of well-drilled staff on hand who never seemed to stop moving.
Our dishes were out super-fast and the service was attentive and efficient throughout our meal.
Although the place was busy, the high ceilings, light wood tables and uncluttered design meant it didn’t feel cramped or noisy (no checkered table cloths here).
There were some signed AFL and soccer strips on the walls, adding a nice community touch, and even a kitsch Roman statue with a Santa hat on it.
Overall, the place had a nice friendly buzz and was very inviting.
After re-inacting The Goonies in the play area, my young kids were briefly back at the table for their kids meal deal ($14) which had a soft drink, pizza and scoop of gelato.
There were no complaints about the dainty Margherita and ham pizzas, which were just the right size (sometimes kids pizzas are too big with excess slices chucked in the bin).
I had a cheeky taste of my daughter’s pizza and strawberry gelato and it was delicious.
I knew Siena’s would be good on account of its longevity, but I was surprised by the quality of its food.
It was one of the tastiest and best-value Italian meals I’ve had in a while.
By STEPHEN POLLOCK
Siena’s of Leederville
115 Oxford Street, Leederville