A Viaggio Through Italy
Claim to fame: Some of the world’s most polished modern Italian cooking
Reason to go: Anything carb-driven – Alessandro Pavoni has remarkable facility with risotto and pasta alike.
To look out for: More casual (but still impressive) sister kiosk, Chiosco
“Innovative Italian food, made with locally sourced produce, in a stylish locale with a seaside deck.” Sometimes the metadata doesn’t lie. Sure, it elides the fact that you have to walk through a marina to actually reach that seaside deck, a slightly odd experience, especially after dark, and “stylish” might be overselling things ever so slightly, but the part about innovative Italian food is 100 per cent on the money.
Take the bottoni, for instance. Not only does chef-patron Alessandro Pavoni start with a relatively recherché choice of filled pasta-shape, he opts to pack the tender little buttons not with a filling made with parmesan, but with a sauce flavored with grilled Parmigiano-Reggiano rind that explodes in a burst of flavor. But when you’ve put the cheese inside the pasta, what do you then do for a garnish? If you’re Pavoni, you roast malt, powder it and sprinkle it over the bottoni and add another layer of savoriness without tipping the scales.
Ormeggio is the Italian term for mooring. It’s a reference to the restaurant’s setting, afloat on a corner of inner-harbor in the leafy suburbs of Sydney, out of sight of the sea. The current menu structure is intended to take the diner on a voyage of sorts. Organized as a “Trip Through Italy” (there’s also the abbreviated “Little Trip”, welcomed by diners shorter on time or indeed money), it skips over seven or so courses from Piemonte (represented by an interesting take on vitello tonnato underpinned by hand-cut raw veal) to the almonds and lemons of Sicily at dessert.
Along the way you might encounter a risotto alla Milanese reimagined as rice with a beautiful bite, laid wave-like across the plate with plenty of saffron and bone marrow, as well as pieces of marron, Australia’s fat, sweet freshwater lobster taking the place of the usual braised veal shin. Liguria could feature in the form of chilled spaghetti (spaghetti freddi makes it sound sweeter to the ear) with mussels, prawns and seaweed, while a wild take on eggplant parmigiana ticks the box for Campania.
You’ll almost certainly encounter highly informed and almost courtly service from a team of veteran staffers, and there’s a very good chance you’ll drink well, the list is a roll-call of the good and grand producers of Italy with a smattering of well-regarded names from Australia and New Zealand in the mix for good measure.