If a restaurant is swarming with people one can generally assume it is popular. When I stepped into Criniti’s in The Piazza dining precinct at Castle Towers Shopping Centre, the place was indeed swarming with people.
Firstly, every single table in the outside seating area was occupied - despite it being a rather chilly day, but patio heaters, flaming at full force, kept the cold at bay. Strolling inside we found the same situation with not a single seat vacant. Luckily I had called ahead and made a reservation so we were escorted through the chaos to the first floor dining area which was similarly, teeming with people. So if you don’t want to be turned down on the opportunity of dining at Criniti’s, be sure to make a reservation.
A warm and inviting atmosphere with a distinct Italian flair.
The ambiance at Criniti's is quite relaxing. The walls are adorned with framed pictures with a typical Italian flair reminiscent of the Godfather and Raging Bull, and dim lighting makes the sprawling restaurant seem warm and intimate. As far as the service, the young team at Criniti’s are all enthusiastic and friendly, and quite well groomed, I might add.
Immediately after we took our seats we were given the house menus. The menu card itself is quite large to allow the inclusion of all the choices offered - which are many. There is an antipasti section, a selection of burgers, pastas, pizzas, risottos, meats and game, BBQ grill, steaks and a selection of seafood along with the usual drinks and quite a variety of desserts. The choices are almost endless.
The system at this place is 'tech-y' therefore quite quick too. You place your order while the staff key it in on Wi-Fi enabled touchpads. The orders are then immediately sent to the kitchen, so expect your order to arrive without delay. Our drinks actually arrived even before the waiter left our table - which is extremely impressive.
A dish of rich, flavourful goat, a first for me.
The food is absolutely gorgeous and the presentation and flavors are spot on. I ordered the capretto ($29.90), a dish of baby goat, something I had never tried before. The goat dish is something like a stew with cherry tomatoes, carrots, garlic, potatoes and thick chunks of goat meat floating in a deliciously rich ragu. A hint of basil and rosemary adds a little extra flavor to the already delicious dish, which is eaten with a slice of warm Italian bread.
Kids Bolognese - still a very full plate.
My better half went for a manlier meal called hunting with Cosimo ($44.90) which is a dish of pork ribs served on a bed of homemade salami, Italian sausage, pork belly and chilli. This dish too is accompanied by a slice of Italian bread.
Tenderloins with mushroom sauce and chips - enough to fill you up.
My children opted for smaller meals – lasagna ($22.90), spaghetti bolognese from the kids menu ($15.00) and the tenderloins with mushroom sauce ($38.90). As I was intending on writing this review I was obviously required to try a bite of every dish on the table - a pretty good excuse I think. Every single dish was perfect in my mind.
Nonna's Bruschetta - a medley of flavours.
The portions at Criniti's were far too much for people like us with smaller appetites, but the folks at adjoining tables had no trouble finishing off what was brought to their table. All in all Criniti’s at Castle Hill provided a great dining experience with excellent service and great food too. Oh and did I mention the staff? Quite a friendly lot, and very efficient too.
Where: The Piazza at Castle Towers Shopping Centre.
Why: Huge choice of great food, friendly, efficient staff and a welcoming atmosphere.
Cost: Starters, breads and antipasti from $7.90. Mains from $15.90. Dessert from $9.
When: Sunday - Thursday 11.30am - 10.30pm
Friday - Saturday 11.30am - 11.00pm
Good for kids: Yes, there is a children's menu available too.
Take away: Yes.