Romulus and Remus
West Lynn's newest opening was inspired by the traditional trattorias of Rome.
Named after the mythical twins that were suckled by a she-wolf before founding the Italian capital, new West Lynn opening Romulus and Remus was inspired by ancient and contemporary Rome — but there's definitely some Kiwi in there too. When we went for dinner on a sunny Tuesday evening, they were playing some Fat Freddy's Drop and there was a casual yet friendly vibe about the place.
Found in the former home of Richmond Road's Jafa Cafe, and its many other comings and goings, the restaurant has an industrial but organic vibe with a big open space, exposed beams and earthy tones — not at all a traditional Italian trattoria setup. The inside area is staggered across two floors, which helps create a more intimate setting. There's a playfulness that echoes off the walls in the pictures of people enjoying food, as the Romans do. There's also one of Russell Crowe from Gladiator guarding the restrooms.
To the menu. For starters we had the salsiccia e pane pork and fennel sausage with fried bread, and melanzane eggplant chips. The sausage dish had the most intense and delicious smell which instantly bought back memories of Italy. And it tasted every bit as good as it smelt. The eggplant chips were perfectly cooked in breadcrumbs and served with just the right amount of feta dip. Both were great value at $7 a piece.
For something larger we had the margherita and florentina pizza — a wonderful collaboration of the two traditional pizza toppings — plus the osso buco. This northern Italy favourite comprised slow-braised beef shin served on saffron risotto. It was packed full of flavour and ridiculously creamy. The brandy snap cannoli finished off the three-course meal. This clever play on two classic desserts is filled with a lemon, fennel and pistachio ricotta cream.
From Tuesday through Sunday the restaurant hosts a happy hour from 4pm until 6pm, serving Italian apertivos drinking snacks for $7 and pizza for $13. The weekends are reserved for brunch with the kitchen serving up an enhanced version of spaghetti and cheese on toast, as well as carbonara-style eggs. The combination of spaghetti, bacon and eggs and creamy carbonara sauce is worth getting out of bed for. And while you're at it, pretend you're on a Roman holiday by sipping a Bloody Romy, which replaces the vodka with grappa.