Old School House Trattoria, St Ives

The other week, some old friends of mine got together to celebrate a birthday.  This particular group of friends and I celebrate each of our birthdays with a dinner every year.  The four of us go way back.  All the way back to primary school, in fact. Which means, we’ve known each other for almost TWENTY YEARS.  Now, that’s a scary thought!

Considering our friendship was forged at school, it seems fitting that our restaurant of choice this time around was the Old School House Trattoria in St Ives.  The Old School House Trattoria is an Italian restaurant situated in an old school house (surprise, surprise!).

The interior, which I didn’t manage to get a great photo of, is really cute – old school house style with old school memorabilia hanging on the walls.

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The staff are super friendly and we’re given a bowl of this delicious sea salt and olive oil bread while we mull over the menu.  I love complimentary bread – it’s so rare in Sydney restaurants these days (I’ve probably whinged about this before).

This bread was served warm and it was incredibly tasty. I love the taste of olive oil.

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We have a real tough time deciding on what to order. There are so many yum-sounding things on the menu it’s so darn hard to pick just one.

The waitress, who is incredibly lovely, helps us with our orders and recommends that we downsize to entree portions. Thank goodness we took her advice. The entree sized dishes were so generous, I can only imagine how ginormous the main portions are.  I would have been devastated if there had been no room for dessert.

First of the mains was Homemade Tagliatelle Fresche con Salmone (fresh tagliatelle with smoked salmon and cream with a touch of tomato sauce) ($16 entree size).

I don’t eat smoked salmon so I didn’t taste-test but my friend said it was delicious and as far as I’m aware she enjoyed it.

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Next, me and one of the other girls ordered the Risotto Marinara – rice with tomato and seafood ($18 entree size).

We both seriously enjoyed this dish. The risotto was cooked perfectly – just the right amount of crunch, no gluggy risotto here, and it was full of flavour. The seafood included calamari, prawns, mussels and to my great delight, my absolute favourite of all the shellfish, scampi.  I would eat scampi every single day if I could. Unfortunately it’s so hard to come by on a restaurant menu so I only get it to eat like once every fifty years.

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The last meal was off the special’s board, a plate of mixed seafood lightly battered with a side of vegetables.  The plate consisted of calamari, prawns, scampi and fish and was thoroughly enjoyed by my friend.

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Between dinner and dessert, the chef Franco comes out to see how we liked our meals. This is something else you don’t see too often these days and it was great having a chat to the uber friendly Franco and practicing my ridiculously rusty Italian (‘grazie mille!’ That’s pretty much all I got). 

We each ordered dessert from items that aren’t on the printed menu. (I.e forgive my lack of prices and detail here.)

First up was a lemon tart with almonds and vanilla ice cream (well, it was probably gelato I guess). I sampled this one and it was so yummy – the perfect combination or sweet and citrus-y.

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Next was an apple pie which had caramel sauce throughout the pie. Ingenious.  Of course I sampled this one too and it was also scrumptious.

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Lastly, the birthday girl and I both ordered the Mango Tiramisu.  I happened to mention to Chef Franco and our waitress that it was her birthday so they brought hers out with a candle and sung happy birthday.

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The Mango Tiramisu was a delicious, summery take on a regular tiramisu. The mango replaced the coffee and chocolate. Another ingenious idea.

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Afterwards, Chef Franco gave us all a packet of leftover Halloween lollies which was a fun surprise.

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All in all, we were extremely happy with our evening.  Delicious and high quality food is one thing, but add in wonderful staff who take the time to talk to their guests and you have the makings of a fantastic evening.  It’s no wonder that the Old School House Trattoria has been around for as long as I can remember.

Would I go again? Definitely.

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