Harley and Rose, a restaurant named after a Black Sorrows song, is bringing pared back Italian cuisine to the former Ovest site in West Footscray. The unique modernist building on Barkly Street is now a relaxed local Italian diner, bar and wine shop.
The business is owned by two ex-Andrew McConnell group chefs, Josh Murphy and Rory Cowcher, former head chefs at the Builders Arms and Cutler and Co. respectively.
The interior has been stripped and is now darker and cosier, with a woodfire oven taking pride of place.
If your kids are old enough the prime seating is at the bar, where you can watch the kitchen staff chop, mix and swirl right in front of you. Baby 2.0 is fascinated by the whole process of making his dinner.
On Tuesdays to Thursdays Harley and Rose opens at 4pm (kitchen at 5pm), perfect for a family-friendly meal. There is pram access, several high chairs, a change table in the disabled toilets and children’s menu.
The tight selection includes entrees such as the cod dip (like an Italian style taramasalata) with spongy foccacia ($11) and a woodfired octopus with pesto ($14).
Both dishes are simple and punchy in flavour, though I think the squid could be more tender and more of it on the plate, please (a mere three tentacles). The pesto is to die-to-for…if they bottled it I’d buy it.
While Harley and Rose isn’t strictly a pizzeria their Margherita ($19) is a classic rendition topped with buffalo mozzarella and DIY fresh basil – for the kids who may shy away from greenery.
The base is crisp rather than chewy so whether you like it depends on your personal preference. Personally, I like my bases more pliable and elastic.
I’m having a love affair with zucchini at the moment and the grilled zucchini salad is delightfully smokey with a hint of anchovy ($12).
If you’re not after pizza then there are currently four main courses – radicchio risotto, spaghetti cacio e pepe, lamb meatballs with risoni and a prime rib steak.
The kids menu comprises three pizzas ($11-12), spaghetti Neapolitan ($8) or chicken schnitzel with potatoes and salad ($10) as well as leaf or grain salad sides.
The dessert offering is pretty simple – gelato/sorbet, olive oil cake, fresh peaches with cream and two cheeses. None of them really catch our eye, which is unusual for a dessert-loving family.
Harley and Rose is a great local Italian restaurant for an easy family-friendly dinner. I think it aims to be comfortable and consistent and no doubt families will flock to it.
- pram access;
- high chairs;
- change table;
- kids menu;
- standard menu suitable for kids; and
- across the road from West Footscray library, toy library and Neighbourhood House.
Harley and Rose, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray