Sitting outside, warmed by those fancy, outdoor heaters and watching as swathes of shoppers entered and exited the large revolving doors into the heart of the Victoria and Alfred Shopping Centre, all seemed right with the world. Not necessarily perfect, but as it should be.
The sky was overcast so only the bottom half of Table Mountain was showing, but the boats in the small harbour were bobbing away, oblivious to the weather. Balducci’s was full too, indicating that the diners here were somewhat un-phased by the weather too.
We arrived just after midday on a Saturday afternoon and elected to eat in the outside area. Inside was cosy, and closely packed but outside boasted fresh air and better people-watching. We seated ourselves at the bar as instructed and got started on a bottle of Glenelly Unwooded Chardonnay while they prepared a table.
In no time at all we were shown to our table, bedecked in a white table cloth and flanked by large, comfortable wicker chairs. Our wine made its way to our table simultaneously, atop a tray, in the capable hands of the manager himself. Two menus were handed out, one for each of us and after a few moments acclimatising to our new location, we delved into the menus. The menu at Balducci’s is varied but not so big that one loses faith in the quality.
For a classic feel-good meal there are pizza, pasta, and burger options, ranging from the standard incarnations (such as a traditional Hawaiian pizza) to ones with a more gourmet flare (like the Asian Chicken pizza – chicken sautéed in soy sauce and red onion with Tempan sauce sprinkled over the whole pizza).
The menu also boasts seafood from curries to calamari and meaty dishes like ostrich fillet and veal Milanese (crumbed veal), all served with a choice of rice, fries, vegetables, pasta or polenta.
Given my penchant for sushi, we settled, surprisingly quickly I might add, on 2 platters to share – the Balducci’s Royal Platter (8 pieces Nigiri Sushi, 6 pieces Sashimi and 4 pieces Inside Out Roll) and the Vegetable Platter (4 pieces Vegetable Roll, 4 pieces Vegetable Sandwich, 3 pieces Cucumber Makimono and 3 pieces Avo Makimono, 2 pieces Inari Nigiri). It was scrumptious. For incredibly discerning sushi-eaters this may not be the best sushi in the city, but there is no denying that the ingredients were fresh, well presented and it all tasted really good. The vegetable sushi was a bit of a revelation in fact – very pretty and almost as tasty as the fishy-er portions.
While I can’t vouch for the flavours of the other dishes, glancing around at the meals on some of the neighbouring tables, I think it’s safe to say that the pizza, pastas and salads are more than satisfactory in portion size and appearance.
Despite a very enticing desert menu (I’m still questioning how I managed to turn down chocolate fondant – soufflé with soft Lindt chocolate outside and a molten Lindt chocolate centre, served with homemade vanilla ice cream), we followed up our lunch with an espresso and cappuccino respectively. It was a nice end to a nice experience.
Balducci’s is located in the V&A Waterfront and on a clear day has a somewhat obscured view of the mountain and harbour from the outside eating area. The service is swift and professional, the food is delicious and they have an extensive wine and alcoholic beverage list to accompany any meal you choose. Essentially Balducci’s ticks the three most important boxes – food, ambience and service. I will remember it for the next time I find myself at the Waterfront.
Visit Balducci’s listing on Dining-OUT for more information.