CCU Undercover: Criniti’s

Before I begin, just a big thank you to everyone who helped me with my facebook questions and who linked me to their pages – If you saw someone random named Urvashi ‘like’ you, thats me :D and I want to like everyone so keep on linking :)
I will post up my page link as soon as I get some time to make it ;)
And also I was joking when I said I had lunch with Mark Z., I promise you all I hae never even seen this guy :D

Now on to the post – Enjoy!

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“Mamma mia!”
No-Sit Coffee Shops.
Gelatissimo.
“Why are all the towers leaning daddy?”
Al Pacino casually walking by with Marlon Brando with their godkids…

Yep, CCU definitely knew she was in Italy. Big, bustling mammas shopping for fresh ingredients, gossiping while their mafia husbands talked casually, wearing big gold chains and designer suits.
She walked along, the Colosseum blocking the heat of sun from her face when in the distance she saw it… she went inside… and she never wanted to come out again…

*****************************************************************************
Ok, alright, maybe I am stereotyping Italy a little *a lot* but I felt like I was actually in one of those dens in Italy! Although, this was one big den!

Criniti’s, Sydney’s fastest growing, most popular Italian restaurant is not. small. Seating outside, inside, upstairs, 2 kitchens – you get the gist no?
I wish I could have taken photos of it all but I am telling you, standing still, you will get stepped on, run over or bowled over more like it. Waiters running left, right and centre, efficiently but they are just so busy :)

Note: All photos have been brightened because of the lighting for your viewing pleasure :)

We are taken inside and upstairs, passing the bar area, dim warming lights and soft catchy music playing make the atmosphere. We are seated at a wooden table, the lamp glows just enough to eat by (as you shall see in the photos :P). We are given a waitress to specifically serve our table, so no chance of any mix-ups and greater efficiency. I’m sure these guys have to do easily 3-4 tables each. How many waiters are possible?

Anyway, we look at the menu, which is exhausting, there is so much choice. It is written with the traditional Italian name and a translation, with good description so you know exactly what you are getting :)

First up, we order drinks. My dad, he goes for his classic, Jack Daniels and Coke.

Jack Daniels ($9)

My brother too, goes for his classic – no, not the chocolate milkshake :P, a Lemon-Lime Bitters! I try some and it is sweeter than most with less bitter so I like it but my brother prefers it slightly zingier.

Lemon-Lime Bitters ($5)

My poor mummy has a bad throat so she doesn’t get a drink until later so to taunt her (joking, joking!), I get one a beautiful mocktail. A Manberry – hahahahahaha I love that name, it is so funny! Sorry, sorry, :D, it is refreshing, the crushed ice is properly flavoured as well so that I do not suck the flavour out leaving the ice! The fruity flavours of mango and berries are heavenly and the glass is so cute!

Manberry ($12) – Mango cheek, strawberries and orange juice w/ crushed ice

Next up, we order entrees. We keep it simple, my brother and daddy saving their meaty appetites (a pun ;)) for the mains. First up, we order the classic real Italian garlic bread a.k.a garlic crust :)

Pizzette Crosta: Garlic Crust ($16.90) – olive oil, garlic, origano w/ hummus, black olive tapenade and tomato-capsicum relish

Very soft and deliciously flavoured garlicky crust bread, almost like Italian naans and it comes with some dips which is a plus and something I have never seen before. We get a chunky tomato-capsicum relish which is delicious, a black olive tapenade which is apparently a bit too salty and some hummus!

On my request, we order bruschetta (you all know my bruschetta obsession) and it is perfect. The bread is crunchy but soft in the middle, dripping with olive oil dressing and topped with tomatoes and chunks of mozzarella :)

Bruschette: Caprese ($9.90) – cherry tomatoes, basil, red onion, garlic, origano, olive oil, D.O.P buffalo mozzerella

We also order a seasonal vegetables, because we are healthy like that, sautéed in a nice amount butter and seasoned with salt and pepper ;) – I have tried and enjoyed it before but I stick to bruschetta this time. Mum likes it a lot, I can tell you that :D

Seasonal Vegetables ($5.90)

Mains Time! One of the best parts of the evening :)
Mum and I decide to share because even if you do not get the 1m pizza (yep, they have it!), it is still a pretty hearty serving and I am not skimping on dessert here! We order the Ferrara, another fantastic name, a generously vegetable filled pizza. It has a very thin base and not a lot of cheese but it works perfectly together! Wood-fired, you get a beautiful smoky taste in each bite and honestly, I may as well be in Italy with this pizza, it feels so authentic!

Pizza Al Forno Legna (Woodfire): Ferrara ($29.50) – eggplant, mushrooms, wood fire roaasted capsicum, semi sundried tomatoes, red onion, D.O.P fior de latte mozzarella, artichokes w/ ligurian olives

My brother orders quite the exotic creation, filled with lots of thick lashings of cheese, Italian sausage and great flavourings. My brother, being a man of many words, says “It’s awesome.” ;)

Pizza Al Forno Legna (Wood Fired) – Cornuto ($27.50) – Italian sausages, origano, basil, D.O.P buffalo mozzarella & chilli

Daddy decides to be the trendy one and get some fresh pasta. It takes a long time to choose (these guys have two large sections for pasta, three for pizzas!) but in the end, daddy goes for a saucy mixture  with the goodness of chicken, cream and avocado. Not half bad, not bad at all, so good! :D

Pasta Asciutta (Dry Pasta): Pennette Romana ($29.50) – chicken, mushroom, avocado, cherry tomatoes & cream w/ D.O.P parmesan

Now… drum roll please… DESSERT DESSERT DESSERT! You may not know this but it is rare and my entire family orders a dessert each. But tonight was indulgence city so guess what… we did :D :D

Dad, he got the affogato. Yea, I know, pretty boring, just a scoop of ice cream engulfed by strong coffee. WRONG!
3 scoops of the smoothest vanilla gelato sitting in a giant sundae cup, with 2 thick honeycomb pieces, adorned on the sides with small cups, one containing coffee, one containing Frangelico. Holy cow, the best affogato in the history of affogatos. A claim attested to by daddy :)

Dolci: Affogato ($14) – vanilla gelato w/ a shot of espresso, frangelico & honeycomb

Have you met my classic brother? He is a sticky fellow. More like a sticky date fellow. So he goes ahead and gets a magnificent dariole mould shaped pudding, drenched in butterscotch with a scoop of that gorgeous gelato and a small whipped cream patch. Good stuff.

Dolci: Sticky Date ($15) – sticky date pudding glazed w/ hot butterscotch, cream & vanilla gelato

Mummy? She is all but dying for ice cream but stays strong and gets the traditional Tiramisu. Boy, is she happy with that decision :D
It is a chunk of coffee cream spongey goodness, adorned with chocolate flakes and powder. Every bite and my mum swoons.

Dolci: Tiramisu ($15) – traditional Italian tiramisu

She also gets a hot cappuccino (“Skinny and extra hot please”) and it comes with the cutest biscuit, going perfectly with the cake and keeps her throat ok. Yay!

Cappuccino ($4)

Me? Well, I was a pain and took a year to decide. You see, everything looks so good, but everything looks so exotic. I want something a little familiar. Something I can be guaranteed heaven with. And then I see it. Nutella… nutella… nutella… nutella… and mum points out the stack of 1 kg Nutella jars in the corner on a shelf at the back of the room. Oh yeah…

Dolci: Nutella Bomba ($16) – cinnamon coated fried pizza pocket filled w/ nutella served w/ vanilla gelato

I decide to go for more dough and get a nutella bomba (bomb of Nutella? YES!) – the dough is soft and sweet, a centre of warmed Nutella dripping off it, vanilla gelato melting into it. Aaaaah, it was absolute heaven – never have I seen Nutella used in such a delicious way!

My yummy mess…

General Overview:

  • The service is the best I have seen – serving so many people, all at once, it must be difficult but there was little hitch, with only once my dad’s second drink order for coke being forgotten
  • Attention to detail – serving in chilled glasses, giving a fresh set of cutlery, warmed plates and a napkin between courses, they really go that extra step to give great customer service
  • An Italian restaurant with atmosphere – awesome Godfather paintings, Italian den vibe, they are not going for full on grandeur, they are getting into the awesome nitty-gritty of Italy
  • I loved the way they served – one entree at a time, mains together, they knew immediately when to bring because of their efficiency – I will say though that the tables may have been a little too small for four

Rating: 9/10

Booking: VERY recommended (online – this link)

Address & Contact Details:

Website: http://www.crinitis.com.au/

Menu:

Address:

6-14 Castle Street
Castle Hill
NSW 2154

Criniti's Castle Hill on Urbanspoon

Go and visit now, fresh warm plates are waiting… ;)

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Moving far, far away from Italian food since I have eaten enough for at least a week :P, I had a thank you to give out. You see, there is a lady at my dad’s work who has one of the biggest smiles ever. You can call her Lady A.

Although everyone my dad works with is fantastic, Lady A seems to have a soft spot for us foodies so whenever someone brings something delicious to share with the crew there, she always packs one or two to send home to me. Awwwwwwwww! :)

She had a thank you long coming so I decided this weekend, with my spare hour, to whip her up some brownies because she is more than deserving of them! No, not just usual brownies, the real brownies. The all cocoa, fudgy pieces of absolute heaven!

My brownies. The best brownies. For her :)

Last time I made them, I stuffed them up with Oreos, and didn’t properly give you my adapted recipe. I got the original from Masterchef and changed it around to my liking. The recipe is gone from the website so luckily I saved it!

I did not have any Oreos in stock *oops* so I stuffed them with leftover M&Ms, marshmallows, peanuts and chocolate chips. Call them the Leftovers Best Brownies.

I promise you, look at how fudgy they are – nothing could possibly taste better, and Lady A deserves only the best :D

Leftover Candy Version Of The Best Brownies

Makes: 24 pieces (depending on the size cut)

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbs golden syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 100g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup marshmallows, mini or roughly cut

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Grease and line 2x 20cm baking tins
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter until starts to brown and smell a little nutty, add in sugars and stir over heat for a minute until combined then remove off heat – let cool for 10 minutes
  3. Stir in cocoa powder till mixed through
  4. One by one, beat in eggs until well combined each time. Make sure there is a gooey consistency
  5. Beat in the vanilla essence and golden syrup
  6. Stir in the flour, baking powder until a thick batter is formed *refrain from eating*
  7. Stir through the mix-ins *REFRAIN FROM EATING*
  8. Pour equal amounts of the batter into the tins and smooth the surface – bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out with gooey crumbs (I undercooked mine a little too much so I got the best brownies ever, maybe 25 minutes :P – but they were a little over gooey so go for the 30-35 mark)

    The marshmallow floated to the top, making it have s’more style tendencies :D

  9. Leave to cool until room temperature and then refrigerate, covered loosely by baking paper. Cut and store in an airtight container in fridge
  10. DO NOT REFRAIN FROM EATING

Have a wonderful week mes amis!

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136 Comments

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  7. Cakelaw says:

    Those are fab looking brownies. I am not sure that I would ever have any leftover candy to put in them! As for the restuarant, give me one of each dessert – they sound amazing.

  8. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    About to have dinner soon, and totally make me want to eat pizzas and pasta – comfort food! We already booked for a Japanese tonite. I love when you go out to review restaurants…delicious overload. Heheee.

  9. What a great story!!! All the food looked fantastic!
    I think I would have enjoyed absolutely everything that was served!

    I loved your brothers limited critique ” it was awesome” that is all I ever get from Mr Gg!

    Your brownie recipe looks amazing too!

  10. Tisa says:

    Scrolling down to leave a comment takes me a good 10 minutes, Ms. Popularity. You are quite the reviewer, loved it- all of your reviews make me want to pack my bags and come there, just to eat! Insane brownie recipe, the M&M addition is super yum, as if it needs any more yum to it ;-) Good job my friend, I see the FB plugin- congrats- will like ✓

  11. Loved this post about italian food! The pizza looks really good but the avocado in your father’s pasta is definitively not from Rome :)
    and I laughed at the name of your brother’s pizza: “cornuto” literally means someone horned!!!!

  12. Sophie33 says:

    What a lovely report & that giant filled pizza rocks my tastebuds, my friend! Looks truly appetizing!
    What a feast for the eyes!!

    I love that special dessert as well: rich, dececadent & full of real calories but sometimes we must indulgeourselves, right???

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!! xxx

  13. Lisa says:

    What a fabulous write-up on what looks to be some amazing Italian food! Great photos too! Now.,..the brownies…OMG! Your loaded brownies are really ‘loaded’, and really amazing!

  14. Ames says:

    Great work, dear! You’ve completely sold this restaurant to me that when I’m next in Sydney I will try and track it down :). Awesome brownie recipe too! xo

  15. Kristina says:

    So jealous of that whole meal! I am in serious need of some Italian food… like right now! Tomato bruschetta is honestly one of my favorite dishes, I just ordered it at the restaurant I went to last weekend :)

  16. Heather says:

    What a beautiful Dinner- the restaurant looks and soundfs amazing, that pizza crust OH MY WORD, I was drooling once I saw that perfection of a crust!

  17. Rhonda says:

    Everything at the restaurant looked amazing, but that vegetable pizza is calling my name! I never have room for dessert but the ones you chose look delicious. Have a wonderful weekend!

  18. thelady8home says:

    I’m not very big on Italian, but I love my Pizza. The desserts looks delicious, though I’m sure they are terrible for me.

    Love the brownie Uru, they look lovely. I am sure they must be the most delicious thing ever!

  19. spicegirlfla says:

    Fabulous review! I felt like I was dining right there with your family – and I so wish I was! Yum on all dishes! I’m a freak on noticing all the details a restaurant offers, so I definitely got a kick out of reading all you noticed!! Oh and those brownies…bake and share, they will surely make alot of people very happy!!

  20. Usually I’m the gal distracted by the sweets in photos, but that pizza is making my mouth water!! Yum! (I swear I have pizza cravings at least once a week.) Mmm and your brownies look delightful, as always!

  21. masyoza says:

    You know what? I tried to make this brownies 2 times before (finally) successfully pleased my family.
    But it is worth the hard work. LOL.
    Anyway, thank you for making me look like a professional. :)
    you can submit your food photos to Food Photography to make others hungry.
    You know it’s fun to make others hungry. Especially when they are so hungry they finally want to create your recipe. :)
    It is worth the try. :)
    Thanks!

  22. I love your undercover series! Now I want to go to Crinitis but it’s 1000 miles down there and I can’t make it by dinner time. bugger. The brownie story is really sweet. Your father is very lucky to work with wonderful people.

  23. Food Stories says:

    My gosh, everything looks amazing at this restaurant. I love the cute table lamp and the table/waiter ratio. The affogato looks so good :)

  24. i swear, i just had an eyegasm! The bruschetta looks completey OUT OF THIS WORLD. I also WANT/ need the sticky date.

    Omggggggggggg, the photos are DElectable.

    Just like YOUUuu. xx

  25. Liz says:

    Note to self: Do not check Uru’s blog before going to bed! I am totally hungry again…craving garlic crust and your magnificent brownies! You do it to me every time! Such a delicious post :)

  26. Eva Taylor says:

    That restaurant sounds fantastic and not too pricey either. The pizza’s look delicious and the pasta looks very tasty too. I bet you had some great left overs with all that food!

  27. Oh, CCU, you make me giggle. I always forget how spoiled I am living in Jersey, with an Italian restaurant on every corner (quite literally in my little farmer’s hamlet of a town). Though not a one has ever had something like a Nutella bomba on the menu, and that makes me quite envious.

    I’m also envious of those brownies. Lady A is a lucky woman.

  28. CCU.. I am feeling a sense of jealousy in me right now.. Your post has made me crave for almost everything you talked about ..OH!!! nooo.. ok, it’s decision making time for me. Should I be coming over to Syd or Melby? Hmm.. it’s almost a yearly affair for me.. LOL.. So if I do pop over, we are so going out to eat ;P

  29. Starr says:

    Your meal out looked amazing (I’d love to see restaurants around here serve that Pizzette Crosta)… Your brownies, however, are just drop dead gorgeous! So much gooey deliciousness :-)

  30. So many yummy things here. Desserts however are on my top list. So tell me more about that date dessert. Was it molten? Your dessert that you made with the chewy marshmallows looks really chewy gooey and delish! Take Care, BAM

    • You bet they should be my friend :D
      The date pudding was soft and not chewy but dense, but not molten because it wasn’t a self saucer. OIt was topped with a butterscotch sauce :D

      Cheers
      Choc Chip Uru

  31. What a great review and it seems like you had a wonderful dinner with your family! I LOVE Italian food. But those desserts…..wow….they looked awesome. I would have been torn between the nutella bombe and the tiramisu! But I would have skipped dessert if I could come home to a plate of your brownies! Can we say fudgy?!!!!

  32. V tasty Italian fare and dare I say it, carb heaven! I’m in love with all things generally pizza do yes, the garlic crust through to the nutella bomb all apealled to me!

    How lovely that Lady A packs a few extra sweet treats for you and equally wonderful that you sent her a batch of candy brownies. I had a definite sugar rush when I saw those ;)

  33. Balvinder says:

    What I love about Italian food is that with few ingredients they make amazing dishes. Look at the pizza, just few toppings and it tastes so good. I especially like the brick oven baked, Margarita Pizza. This is not gluten free but I give myself a treat once a year.
    Your leftover candy version of brownies is pure delight.

  34. Sammie says:

    oh yummy.. I’m a huge fan of Italian cuisine as well but this is just AMAZING!! Is there a huge Italian community in Sydney? hehe.. The Tiramisu looks so delicious. I love spongey Tiramisu!!! Also pizza looks so cheesy and yummy. Great choices Uru!! And I’ll be looking out for Urvashi!

    • Do that my friend :D – I will be posting up my link soon :)
      Even though this is not part of it, there is a HUGE Italian restaurants square in Sydney and I love it so much :)
      I learnt about it school, we had a huge wave of italian immigration at one point :P

      Cheers
      Choc Chip Uru

  35. First of all yay for Facebook pageness coming soon. Get on it lady. I’m not sure if you’re on my page but it’s here: http://www.facebook.com/sweet2eatbaking :)

    The italian restaurant looks amazing. The man berry mocktail looks so yummy as does the garlic bread but my heart lies with desserts LOL as to which looks amazing too, hehe.

    And those leftover best brownies? OH.MY.GOSH. I love the addition of the marshmallows, peanuts and M&M’s, looks to die for! Loving the melted marshmallows after baking too. I want a bite!

  36. LinsFood says:

    MANBERRY?! So many places I can go with that but I shall resist the temptation! Everything looks soo good, my favourite is the Affogato! Will hook up on FB!

  37. Cucina49 says:

    I am so technologically incompetent that it isn’t even funny–I need to add your blog to my favorites list, and I haven’t even contemplated a Facebook page yet. Now could you please pass me that affogato? It’s one of my favorite Italian desserts.

  38. that restaurant sounds lovely! I love a good char on my pizza… and I’m with you on the dessert choice. That nutella creation looks amazing!!! Should I watch for a recreation of it on the blog? Please? :)

  39. A_Boleyn says:

    An amazing meal for the whole family. And how sweet of you to make brownies for your dad’s kind office friend. They look so rich and fudgy and delicious and fattening. :)

  40. Suzie says:

    All the food at the restaurant looked terrific but, once again I’ll have what your brother’s having :) I love pizza! How nice of you to make brownies for Lady A!

  41. Cakewhiz says:

    Gosh! All the food is making my mouth water… I am totally digging that mango drink and bruchetta. I have a thing for bruchetta too…lol. And your dessert choice was a perfect way to end this mighty delicious meal :)

    Btw, i will be emiling you in a little bit :P

  42. navane64 says:

    Wow, quite a spread of food and maybe I am not in for the pizza but the rest are simply divine. Glad to hear your are done with the fb page.

  43. Absolutely fabulous! From your enteri g the restaurant to the offering of the brownies, this was a sumptuous post!
    I tried to find you on Tacebook but was unsuccessful. I’m just Sally Smith on there!
    Continue enjoying your holidays and your delicious meals out with your family :)

  44. Ramona says:

    Another fabulous restaurant!!! I love the rustic pizzas. Hope you had fun getting your FB page set up. I’m so sad that we only have a few days left with Foodbuzz… I’m going to miss how it was over there. :( I’m linked onto your blog… so I’ll still be able to get your wonderful recipes and ccu undercovers. :)

  45. Ruth says:

    I cannot believe this post! I just ate and I’m hungry again! That was really an amazing outing :-) The brownies look fabulous, can’t wait for your next adventure!

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