One of Tasmania’s finest Italian restaurants is housed in a small Edwardian cottage in a quiet Launceston street. The lovely Belinda Jones reminded me of Novaros when I went looking for suggestions for an anniversary dinner. It was outstanding advice. Years ago, I visited often when I travelled a lot for work. It’s such a lovely restaurant it’s drawn me back many times. There are hints of a bygone era in the gold gilded mirrors and leadlight light fittings. But don’t be fooled by the historic references, the restaurant is modern, like its namesake. From their graphic device projected on the pavement outside to the art hanging on their red walls. It’s both sophisticated and comfortable.
Sarah greeted us on arrival and showed us to our table. In a nearly full restaurant, our table was pride of place in the front window. “Well that’s just awful,” I said. Sarah replied, “If you’re going to be cheeky, I’ll have to put you out.”
It’s immediately clear that she’s witty and quick and we have a delightful host. Sarah co-owns the restaurant with her partner and chef, Nicolas Hooper. That rhymes with super, which she says he is. They’ve been partners in life and business for 26 years, 14 of which have been at Novaro’s. It doesn’t seem to have done them any harm. Maybe the couple that work and play together stay together? They’ve got history in hospitality. Before their own restaurant they both worked at Strathlynn, Nicolas managing the cellar door and Sarah on the restaurant floor. They’re both seasoned professionals. On our night, she worked the floor solo and almost effortlessly.
Our chardonnay of choice wasn’t available and Sarah suggested the Bay of Fires Chardonnay 2016, a deliciously buttery number we wholeheartedly enjoyed and would seek out again.
What we ate:
- Scallop, caramelised onion, white truffle oil, new season potatoes and red mizuna, $23.50
- Duck, tortellini, balsamic, orange $23.50 / $41.50
- Prawns, Australian tiger prawns, apple juice, verjuice, chilli, spring onions, spaghettini (Gluten free pasta available) $20.50 / $39.50
- Fish Trevalla, lemon, risotto, spinach $41.50.
I’m almost 100 per cent certain that the spaghettini is a menu staple because I have early memories of apple and prawn and had to have it again. I’ve said elsewhere that I think these flavours work so well because the light acidity of the fruit cuts through some of the richness of the meat, making for a light and refreshing pasta dish.
The duck tortellini was lots of fun. Another dish that balanced the richness of the meat with fruity acidic tastes.
The Lovely Deputy is the best person in this couple to give a plate of scallops a fair trial and found them a delicious and unfussy dish. Similarly, as a massive risotto fan he found a delicious dish constructed of simple materials. In fact, it’s probably the risotto where the secret of Novaro’s delicious food is best expressed. Sarah says ‘We use as much local produce as we possibly can and we keep to simple flavours. Don’t overwork stuff!’
Not overworking stuff really works for them. Big fans of Novaro’s so when in Launceston, etc etc…
Here’s their website – Novaro’s Italian Restaurant
On Facebook – Novaro’s Restaurant
You’ll find them at 28 Brisbane Street, Launceston.
Make a reservation on (03) 6334 5589
Meet the lovely Belinda Jones – Where the heart is.