Photo credit: Twin Socials
Adelaide’s love affair with Italian cuisine has only grown over the past couple of years and this restaurant in Newton has nailed it when it comes to authentic home cooking, can’t help but dream of food.
The owner and chef of Dilano, Johnny Raslan, is a man on a mission.
The larger than life character wants you to come in as a customer and leave as family and that’s certainly how I felt walking out of Dilano at the end of the night.
The father-of-one runs the restaurant with his son Dylan and says the key to success is simple: “love what you do, do what you love and do it well”.
We all love a story, and Johnny is one of the best storytellers in town who joins our group at the table to explain how and why Dilano’s has become an institution in Adelaide.
Johnny, who spent years running restaurants around the world, wanted to bring a unique flavor to Adelaide and when his sister died he felt it was the perfect way to pay tribute to her.
You’ll notice the restaurant has a purple theme which is a nod to Johnny’s late sister, Yvonne, purple being her favorite color.
Vonny’s mural adorns the wall to the right as you enter, with flowers and food including garlic, tomatoes and grapes – the staple ingredients for Johnny’s food and wine offerings.
The best part of the place is being able to sit and watch Johnny in action, the bar leading to a small walkway and an open kitchen that smells like a traditional Italian home.
But now let’s get to the food that I haven’t stopped dreaming about for two weeks.
We decided to start with four starters to share between four people, including a simple green salad.
The sautéed mushrooms with garlic, basil and walnuts are the perfect winter warmer on a chilly Adelaide night, but it was the polenta ala ragu that got our whole party talking.
The homemade stew was complemented with mild polenta which was deliciously creamy and the perfect base for the rich tomato based stew.
But that does not prepare us for what is to come!
The Melodia Di Funghi is the type of meal you will drive for as long as you need, to taste it again. King oysters accompanied by porcini mushrooms, field mushrooms and the perfect amount of truffle oil and paste combined with porcini cream and broth are an explosion of flavors that are good for your soul.
We also couldn’t say no to another helping of Johnny’s lovingly made stew which is now served on a cloud bed like gnocchi with just a touch of parmesan cheese. It’s the standard you’d expect from an authentic restaurant like Dilano, especially after the wholesome starter we enjoyed.
The menu worked well as a shared experience, something I would highly recommend to diners who have never been to Dilano before.
To finish, you can’t get past Johnny’s tiramisu, elegantly layered with every rich bite but with a light finish, delivering the perfect combination of subtle cream and mascarpone sweetness to cut through the coffee.
With a full stomach, lots of laughs, and an Italian cooking lesson from Johnny under our belt, I left knowing it wouldn’t be the last time I ate at Dilano’s.
I too still dream of this risotto.
Dilano’s Risotto and Pasta Bar is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
They are located at store 18/84 Gorge Road, Newton SA 5074
You can check out the menu on their website here: https://www.dilanos.com.au/
Follow Johnny and the team on social networks Facebook and Instagram.