100 metres from the beach or 100 metres from Italy… This was the question we were left pondering as we wandered out of this beautiful café; the hottest new coffee spot to join the numerous cafes already at Henley Beach.
Located on Marlborough Street in the beachside suburb of Henley Beach, the Ocean Wave Pizza & Café evades the hustle and bustle of Henley Square, while still residing within walking distance of the white sandy shores. The owner, Svetlana, and her husband only opened their doors one month ago and already have locals join them daily for their incredible coffees and classic brunch dishes. At the moment they are only open from 7am to 3pm but this will all change when the pizza oven is installed. Dinner and takeaway are promised to be available very soon… I don’t know about you, but my Friday night Indian might just be replaced by some mouth-watering Italian pizza or pasta!
We walked into this brightly lit and uniquely furnished café expecting a classic brunch and coffee… But no! True to their Italian heritage, we were met with a feast.
First up to hit the table was the Ocean Wave Big Breakfast. We chose to have a poached egg (keeping it healthy… ish) and were truly astonished by the amount of food served on this dish! Eggs, salad, two rashers of grilled bacon, a hearty Italian sausage, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, a hashbrown, and a breadcrumb topped “grate” mushroom all served on sourdough toast. The sausage was juicy and the sauteed vegetables perfectly cooked.
The ideal Smashed Avocado on Toast is a very classic brunch dish and thus it is easy to differentiate the good from the bad. The verdict: superb! Out of interest, I decided to choose the gluten-free option and for the first time in my life, I loved the bread! Thick and fresh, it was unlike any gluten-free bread I have ever had. Topped with pure smashed avocado, two poached eggs, balsamic vinegar and a small side, it was traditional and delightful. In my opinion, gluten-free foodies should visit the Ocean Wave Café just for this dish!
Time to get to the lunch side of brunch. We were delighted to be offered two types of Arancini Balls: Radicchio-Bolognese and Porcini-Truffle. Surprisingly light on the inside and served with a hollandaise sauce, the best arancini ball couldn’t be decided on… while I revered the mozzarella-truffle, my fellow foodie seemed to adore the bolognese!
The Mixed Crostini were equally popular, each individually oven-baked bread having its own unique topping including Mozzarella Fior di latte, radicchio, zucchini and cherry tomatoes, Italian sausage, mushrooms, and my personal favourite, truffle!
It wouldn’t be an Italian restaurant without the pasta… and what pasta it was! We were lucky enough to try the Homemade Spinach Lasagna. After talking to the chef and owner, it was clarified that the spinach was actually in the pasta itself and the bolognese was identical to that used in the arancini balls. This dish was an absolute hit due to its light bechamel sauce, rich bolognese and perfectly dressed salad.
Up next, we had the Tagliata served with Rocket and Grana Padano, Olive Oil. This beautifully presented dish of spinach and wheat pasta, drowned in a creamy, decadent sauce with heapings of Italian sausage was my favourite dish of the entire meal. I loved the use of multiple colours throughout the dish and thought that it was seasoned perfectly. The light sprinkling of Grana Padana cheese was also delightful and topped off a truly wonderful dish.
My co-foodie’s favourite dish of the day was also a pasta; more specifically the Homemade Gnocchi 4 Cheeses. Imagine a cheese fondue made with the finest four dairy products in all Italy; Gorgonzola, Emmental, Grana Padano and cream… Then add a bowl full of perfectly airy, pillows of potato gnocchi and voila; Ocean Wave’s Homemade Gnocchi 4 Cheeses. This dish is a must for any cheese lover currently residing (or passing through) Adelaide.
The carnivores among us mustn’t worry either! The Beef Fillet Cooked in Green Pepper Corn Sauce is a plentiful dish, large enough to share amongst 2 or maybe even 3 people. Served on a bed of rocket with parmesan and cherry tomatoes to pack a punch, the succulent and tender meat is well worth ordering.
The gorgeous sides must be acknowledged as well. Unknown to me, a classical Italian dinner sometimes consists of simply Prosciutto and Melon (after a substantial lunch of course). I was initially taken aback by this seemingly dubious pairing, but once again the age-old flavour pairing of sweet and salty reigned supreme. Whether eaten as an entrée, side or even main, the huge wedges of mouth-watering rock melon and slivers of prosciutto will be sure to satiate your appetite and intrigue your pallet.
Another Italian speciality is the Grate Vegetables. To cook this dish, slices of zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms and tomatoes are covered with breadcrumbs, onion and (of course) cheese before being baked in the oven. The crispy topping is delightful to crack through and the vegetables moist and flavourful beneath. I’d definitely recommend giving this side dish a try no matter what main is ordered.
Would it be an Italian restaurant without desserts? Of course not! Keeping to the theme of extravagance, we were lucky enough to try two desserts. The Tiramisu was truly delicious, and I loved how the coffee was used to highlight the chocolate notes in the dish, rather than dominate it. The layers of Savoiardi (Ladyfinger Biscuits) had just the right amount of coffee in them, and the ratio of cream to cake was spot on. Moreover, the addition of berries turned this dish into a visual beauty!
The Panna Cotta served with Fresh Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries and Mixed Berry Coulis had The Wobble. Enough said, no? The texture of this culinary challenge was perfect and the more-than-subtle hint of vanilla delectable. I could have eaten 3!
A hearty congratulations must be given to the owners, chefs and all the staff at Ocean Wave Pizza & Café. We left feeling “sono pieno come un uovo,” (or in English) as “full as an egg” and gladly so! I can’t wait to visit again very soon to taste the pizzas and cocktails (and the Tagliata of course)!
Words by EG Mills from E-cup Gastronomy
WHERE: 113 Marlborough St, Henley Beach