Rosa’s Kitchen, a new Italian restaurant by Rosa Mitchell (ex-Journal Canteen, Hobson’s Bay Hotel), David Mackintosh and Peter Bartholomew (both MoVida Group, Pei Modern and Coda), has moved in where Lucattini’s sat aging for over 20 years. The team got their hands dirty chipping away at plaster to reveal suffocated brick, and ripping up blue carpet that probably made women partial to doilies and floral wallpaper cringe. The amiably dated ‘cucina’ and ‘Italiana’ neon lettering remain outside. Inside, red and yellow chairs beg diners to loosen up, backed up by the informality of a menu scribbled in chalk on blackboards around the room.Rosa brings to her kitchen—and your mouth—homely, Sicilian food. Hospitality workers are already taking advantage of the late night bar menu (calling it a ‘bar menu’ doesn’t really do it justice), but we started with a small antipasto platter. An unassuming white plate arrived overflowing with crisp pea and cauliflower fritters, a barley salad with shards of tomato, pork salami spiked with fennel, silky grilled eggplant, firm fried chunks of ricotta, and other morsels that transported you to an Italian farmhouse in the hills.
We shared ravioli, a nostalgic favourite I used to order with my father on weekends. To this day the dish is referred to as ‘square noo-noos’ in my family. This entrée version featured six squares of perfectly seasoned pasta with eggplant in an acidic tomato sugo. At the table beside us, a gorgeous child with barely enough teeth for solids was demanding more penne with beef shin ragyu.