La Tavernetta Osteria
23-26 Norton St
Leichhardt, Sydney

La Tavernetta (which means Little Tavern in Italian) is part of that predominantly Italian enclave know as The Forum in Leichhardt.

Owners Ernesto and Antonella Meduri only started their "Little Tavern" in December 2013 and it has attracted a great following. It was packed and buzzing when we visited.

It has a small indoor area and bar and a larger protected al fresco area in front. The al fresco area is covered though so it can be used comfortably in all weather - and of course there are scattered heaters for those cooler evenings or nights.

The whole place has really captured that Italian feel with simple adornments that are perfectly in style.

One very popular offering is their Aperitivo which runs every Friday evening.

For a mere $15 you get a glass of wine or beer and unlimited access to their "buffet" of food.

For $20 you get a cocktail and all the goodies. It's an amazing deal and understandably in high demand. We tried this for our entree and loved it!

Sir started with a Pimm's which came mixed with fresh fruit, white sugar and ginger ale. It was a tasty start and Mlady had a glass of red to start the evening.

Later Sir unusually had another cocktail, which we both actually shared. It was a speciality of Rocco, the mixologist there, and it was extremely unique.

Firstly, the drink itself looked spectacular, with fruit everywhere - inside it and on top. A hollowed-out ring of pineapple also sat on top.

The really unusual part was that we were provided two small squirter bottles and told to squirt our mouths first with the red one then the white second - before each sip!

We still don't know what it was but it was a great taste!  

The gnocchi here is certainly worth having - even as a teaser before your mains. The gnocchi Napolitana is so simple and tasty. Their tender house made gnocchi arrives with a good covering of rich, vibrant and satisfying sauce. It works so well. Otherwise there's the gnocchi al Gorgonzola - another simple yet delicious dish. This variation has their gnocchi mixed with a creamy yet not overpowering Gorgonzola sauce and garnished with some pieces of super crispy pancetta.

One thing about La Tavernetta is that you can ask for dishes that aren't on the menu - or combinations that aren't.

They will do what they can here to oblige to create a mix that suits the individuals taste.

The next dish was a lovely pairing of beautifully cooked scampi and risotto.

The scampi was halved and cooked perfectly - its tender flesh peeling easily out of the shell.

It's so easy to overcook scampi - but it wasn't the case here with a gentle hand and light touch clearly at work.

The risotto was lovely - how can rice taste this good - and it was so simple too. Cherry tomatoes adorned it as well. 

Next was the Costolette d'agnello - possibly the prettiest dish of the night - and delicious as well.

This was lovely tender BBQ lamb cutlets served on top of generous dollops of beetroot purée and interspersed with scattered freshly steamed snow peas.

It was a sea of colour as it arrived and the lamb was nicely cooked to medium rare and beautifully pink inside.

Is affogato really a dessert or is it more of a palate enhancer before or after or instead of dessert. Mlady regards it as the coffee she has when she's not having coffee.

Anyway, the Affogato Tavernetta arrived and it was a scoop of vanilla gelato and espresso coffee served with a touch of Baileys and garnished with scattered crushed amaretto biscuits.

Whatever this was - it was good. 

Then the bigger desserts arrived starting with the ananas flambé al grand mariner. This dish is pineapple flambéd with Grand Marnier then served with a tangy lemon sorbet. It's fresh, vibrant, tangy and pretty filling too.

Sir's favourite finale was the Crespelle Tavernetta. This was chilled homemade crepes with ricotta and toblerone chocolate. It's unusual having crepes chilled but we found that it actually worked very well.

La Tavernetta Osteria is in the far corner of The Forum but once there you'll probably not want to leave. They have lovely food that will bring you back once you try it. The locals certainly agree!

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of La Tavernetta. Big thanks to owners Ernesto and Antonella Meduri. Thanks also to Maria, Rocco and Andrea for looking after us so well. Special thanks also to Stephanie for arranging our visit.

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