Da Angelo’s is, simply, part of the Hobart food landscape. As reliable and steady as the Queen Mary.
Since 1994, the business partnership of Angelo and Marco has been feeding Hobart with great Italian food. They both come from the southern part of Italy, near Sicily, so pizza and pasta make up the bulk of the menu. When Angelo is there (and that’s most of the time), he greets everyone with warmth and he knows most of the customers by name – it’s that kind of place.
Angelo was born to run a restaurant, it’s his life, and he understands the constant dance of the restaurateur. The night we were there recently, Pat Rafter, the tennis player was at a table just near, and the place was overflowing with customers. Tables turned over rapidly and happily. And regulars waited in the foyer for their take aways. The pizzas are good, the pastas, for me, even better.
What keeps a place powering on day in, day out, while others blow away in the wind like feathers from a duck’s backside?
There’s a few answers to that question, and the exact response will vary with the local terroir, and the driver behind it. But from what I’ve seen, longevity in a restaurant takes first and foremost total commitment.
It’s a living thing, is a restaurant, like Coles Funny Picture Book machines of my youth (yeah, showing the years here!), full of a thousand crazy moving parts. To make those parts work in unison so the whole thing moves as it should, takes huge energy, and commitment.
The core values must remain constant – great food, with great customer service, in an atmosphere that’s always warm and inviting. With those in place, the rest won’t take care of itself, ever, but will be easier to manage well. At Da Angelo’s, Angelo and Marco understand this – it’s deep in their Italian DNA. And daily, they rise to the challenge like the true pros they are.
One thing I have to say here, is that the food isn’t cheap. At $24 or $25 for an entrée serve of pasta (($27 – $28 for a main), and rising up to $31 for a main pasta with seafood, well, it’s getting up there, compared to other prices round town. But you know what? I took my Melbourne friends recently, and they loved the food and the place (and Angelo!) so much they wanted to go back two nights later!
What? But there’s so much else to try – and we didn’t get back this time, but I am on notice that this place is first port of call on their return. So what did we have? Alex and Vicki, being food lovers of the first order had the Minestrone to begin, and yes, I tried it – perfect. Sweet, tomatoey, beans and vegetables, fresh with an uber good fresh parmegiano on top.
How they moved on to the next course? I was impressed. We also shared a garlic pizza bread which dripped fresh garlic and butter and led us into the rich, tasty buttery world of Italian cooking.
Alex had the Luciano Special pasta with Spaghetti, and a generous serve of prawns, garlic, cherry tomatoes, basil and a little of the Napoletana sauce was perfect. He loved it. Vicki had the Puttanesca – also a favourite of mine, with garlic, capers, olives, anchovies, chilli and again more of the Napoletana sauce. Every drop, gone! And I had to share the story of where the name comes from.
Ready? A putta is a whore or prostitute, and the girls in Naples used to compete with each other for customers by cooking the best pasta. This combination obviously did the trick and has been passed down generations because it’s so damn good. My father, who at one stage was head of ASIO for Queensland and spoke six languages, delighted in telling me the story. Which I’m still amazed that he did. He was almost puritanical, towards me, at least. Goes to show, parents aren’t always the people you think they are.
John, Des and I had to have the veal. That’s a dish you don’t often see on menus now, but being spring, and doing Italian? It was no argument. At $37.50, again, not cheap, but for a big serve of melt in the mouth veal topped with mushrooms and lemon and white wine for me, marsala for Desley, and for John, the Pizzaiola with a slurp of the tomato and olive pizza-like sauce? Heaven.
The Hasselback potatoes with butter and cream were rich, but tasty, and the fresh beans and broccolini on the side saved us from complete decadence. And that stumped us. We had downed a bottle of superb Italian Chianti, but I can’t remember the price – sorry! But it wasn’t over the top.
To see Da Angelo’s prosper and hum year in, year out, gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. The locals here know it, and support it. It’s an institution, and deservedly so. Angelo was heading to Noosa the day after we were there in Battery Point. I just hope he came back.
Ristorante Da Angelo / 47 Hampden Road, Battery Point TAS 7004 / Ph: 03 6223 7011 / Open 7 days for dinner, Fridays for lunch as well / $$$ /