As promised, here I am after an AMAZING lunch, keen to write a post in high praises of our meal!
Today was only my second experience of Donna Bionda, one of the newest Italian Restaurants in town, situated in the totally hip and cool City Lane on Flinders St. Hubs and I had known that City Lane is a hotspot at night for the young (and young at heart) working adults of Townsville at night, with an assortment of tapas-style bars/restaurants showcasing a pretty awesome range of alcoholic beverages. Little did we know that all of these places are also open for lunch with quite inviting lunch specials!
As you can see above, the outdoor/indoor dining available in this Lane makes for an awesome place for a lunch-date with friends and family. The many options (all of which are in the Entertainment Book!) left us walking from restaurant to restaurant, scanning through the menus which were conveniently placed on the outdoor tables.
We finally settled on Donna Bionda, thanks to their $15 lunch special menu along with mouth-watering entrees like Garlic Pizza.
Firstly, a bit about the Restaurant.
The location of this Modern Italian Restaurant in Townsville’s City Lane immediately adds a sense of coolness to it. This surprising couples perfectly with the fresh Italian-inspired atmosphere inside the restaurant, thanks to the rows of Red Wine Bottles, White-clothed square tables and stemless wine glasses.
The vibe inside is a wonderful mix of classy and chill with nicely spaced tables and large glass windows. The staff are dressed in pressed white shirts and greet customers cheerily. A perfect place for a casual date or catchup with friends.
The menu has something for everyone craving true Italian at its best – from wood fired pizzas, freshly made pastas, an array of proteins and (of course!) Italian-style desserts. There is also an extensive wine menu featuring wines from Italy.
Compared to the dinner menu which is quite extensive, we were given the lunch specials and pizza menu along with the wine list. We both actually quite liked having these few but fantastic options. There was basically a lunch menu special for everyone – one pizza, a few pastas, a salad, paninis…our problem was refraining to just picking one!
Whilst we were salivating at the menu, our lovely waiter poured us water – then I HAD to take a picture of the glasses. There’s just something about Italian Restaurants and partly-filled Stemless Wine glasses that make us go weak in the knees.
Swooning now settled, we decided we’d have the Garlic Pizza to share – and requested they make it Dairy-free, which they obliged (!!! – bonus points!) and then I went for the Grilled Chicken, Pear, Pine nuts and Fennel Salad (again, they obliged me dairy-free!), and hubs went for the Pappardelle with peas, Gorgonzola and Prosciutto accompanied by a glass of Prunotto Barbera D’Alba Doc (from Piemonte, Italy).
The wine came out first. The initial taste was young and acidic, but otherwise described on the wine list quite accurately with floral tones and a spicy note. At $9, hubs thought it was pretty worth it. Over the course of our meal and some aeration, the wine improved to be less acidic and more robust – pairing it perfectly with the cream of hub’s pasta.
Next came our cheese-less garlic pizza. Let me tell you – even hubs who loves his pizza with cheese – thought the pizza was SENSATIONAL.
Served on a wooden board, the oval pizza had bubbles of charred deliciousness giving textures to this yellowish, thin bread scattered with fine herbs. The smell of garlic was unmistakeable. We were given small warmed plates with it – which again is a bonus.
The texture of the bread is what we both love in pizza dough – initially crisp and light, then chewy with further bites. The taste of garlic was all through the pizza, and the distinct taste of EVOO and good seasoning made this a remarkable starter. We hadn’t even finished our first one and hubby was pondering over a second pizza. We were later told that an addition of cheese will lose you our delightful air pockets of crispiness – so it sounds like you’d get a good but different pizza with or without cheese. Honestly – highly recommended stuff!
The pizza just made us excited for our mains, which came out in quite a timely fashion, about 15mins after our entree was finished.
My salad was a work of art. There’s just something about salads that, when done right, hits the spot for me more than a hot-cooked meal. When you’re eating a salad out, you definitely want something that you can’t just chop up and toss together at home within 10mins. You want something smart, sassy and beautiful. That’s what I got in my Grilled Chicken, Pear, Pine nuts and Fennel Salad.
And as you can see in the picture – it looked beautiful as it hit the table before me. Our waitress asked me if I wanted cracked pepper which I happily accepted before diving in.
The dish was all about BALANCE. Everything in it just fit together. The thinly sliced, slightly sweet pear, with the fresh fennel, spicy rocket, charred and slightly salty chicken, pine nuts and drizzle of balsamic. I also appreciated how well TOSSED this salad was! I wasn’t spending time trying to get a bite of every element of the dish in one mouth – it was already all so well combined. The serving size was also what I considered just right. So as you can guess – I have no complaints about this dish. A 10/10 for me.
Hubs was also equally excited as his Pappardelle with peas, Gorgonzola and Prosciutto was set before him. It was obvious that the eggy-yellow, shiny pasta was freshly made in-house. It was “perfectly andante, perfect texture” and fragrant. The Gorgonzola sauce coating the pasta was well-seasoned, herby and refrained so that the dish celebrated the fresh ingredients rather than swim in soup. The thick-cut, diced proscuitto gave a nice salty balance to the dish, and the peas were fresh and well-cooked. Hubby happily described the dish as “perfect”, his only complaint being there wasn’t enough. A 9/10 from him (only loses one point because he was still hungry after). He was also smug about the value-for-money.
As you can probably tell, we absolutely enjoyed our lunch and are planning to go again soon.
Another one we recommend highly!
So in a Nutshell:
Value for money: 5/5