When the Sydney dining scene changes so quickly, it’s easy to get so caught up in chasing the latest shiny new restaurant that you forget about the ones that have stood the test of time. Alessandro Pavoni has been serving up elegant Italian food for 6 years at Ormeggio, and has achieved two hats in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide for the past 3 years.
Ormeggio is situated on the water at the Spit Bridge, making it a picturesque location for an early Sunday dinner. We’re indulging in Ormeggio’s Stressless Sunday Dinner, which includes 5 courses of the chef’s choosing for the princely sum for $69pp. It was kind of nice not having to make choices from a menu and let the chefs do the thinking for you – very stressless indeed!
We start off with a house-baked sourdough. The bread arrives warm, with a chewy centre and beautiful dark crust, and a light whipped ricotta to spread onto the bread. This is some seriously good bread so when we’re asked if we would like another serve, we can’t say no!
As an avid watcher of Looney Tunes cartoons as a child, the word Acme conjures up images of dynamite, explosions and Wile. E. Coyote. But I found out that ‘ACME’ has other meanings as well – a Greek word referring to the best of something, and also a convenient acronym of the first initials of the owners Andy Emerson, Cam Fairbairn, Mitch Orr, and Ed Loveday.
I was keen to see if ACME lived up to its name. It delivered on the Looney Tunes front with cool dynamite shaped light fixtures, but what of the food?
I was insistent on trying the Baloney sandwich, after seeing it appear on my instagram feed several times with people gushing about its amazing-ness. At $8 a pop (when we visited), it’s definitely not your standard devon sambo, but there’s a delicate quality to the thin sheets of mortadella sandwiched between a fluffy bun. I can’t say it blew my socks off though, and certainly didn’t meet my expectations based on the hype.
For a long time, the only cheese I knew about was the plasticky slices of Kraft Singles. I remember trying to make grilled cheese as a kid and wondering why my cheese didn’t ooze and melt under the grill quite like the ones I saw on TV.
It wasn’t until later on in life that I realised that there was a whole world of cheeses beyond Kraft Singles, all with different flavours and textures. I soon discovered that soft, creamy cheeses like brie and camembert, and stretchy, mild flavoured cheeses like mozzarella were amongst some of my favourites, and sought them out like they were going out of fashion.
It wasn’t long before I found out about burrata, a stretchy pouch of milky mozzarella that holds a surprise flowing river of rich thickened cream inside. When I saw it on the menu at Buffalo Dining Club, I knew I had to have it. The other cheeses would have to wait because the burrata was calling my name!
All the cheeses at Buffalo Dining Club are $20 each and come with a choice of two sides. We decided to get the potato croquettes and honey baby carrots to go with our cheese. The plate also comes with some bread and nduja, a spicy sausage that you can spread onto the bread.
The cows’ milk burrata is buttery and smooth just like you’d expect, though a bit softer and less stretchy than others I’ve had in the past. I was expecting a river of cream to flow out of the burrata once we broke open the pouch but there wasn’t as much as I had hoped. Not to worry though, because the cheese was still creamy and silky in texture, and we didn’t leave any of it on the plate.
The potato croquettes were more like pommes noisette, or round potato gems. They were perfectly spherical potato balls with a crispy outside – kind of like a round version of fries! These were addictively good. The carrots were sweet and tender and yep that was pretty much my vegetable intake for the meal…
Apart from the cheese, the charcuterie is also worth checking out. There’s a selection of prosciutto, jamon, bresaola and other cured meats and we end up with a healthy 60g of San Daniele prosciutto. The prosciutto is served on a piece of wax paper and it’s sliced super thinly. After one slice, we are immediately regretting not going for the 90g option because it’s deliciously fatty and simply melts in the mouth.
Our last dish is a plate of buffalo ricotta gnocchi in a napolitana sauce. The ricotta gnocchi are so light and airy – it’s like eating pillows of clouds! This was a great way to have a pasta dish that wasn’t too rich or stodgy after the cheese and prosciutto, and even though I had a serious case of food envy watching the spaghetti being served in the pecorino cheese wheel, I was glad we stuck with our choice of gnocchi.
So cheese, prosciutto and pasta is pretty much all that’s on offer at the Buffalo Dining Club, but it’s what they do best. This is a fantastic place to take any cheese lover, and as a self-professed cheese lover who has graduated from Kraft Singles, I’m already planning a return visit.
Buffalo Dining Club
116 Surrey Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Ph: +61 2 9332 4052
Open Wednesday to Saturday, midday to 11pm
I used to love buffets. The thought of being able to eat as much as you want was like heaven for me and invariably, it would result in us paying loads of money, stuffing our faces to ensure we get value for money (don’t even think about wasting stomach space on bread!), and then feeling ill for the rest of the night.
Now, I’m much more inclined to spend my money on smaller portions of better quality food, at a place that focuses on one type of food and does it well, rather than going somewhere where I can eat huge quantities but not so great food. Well, it turns out these don’t have to be mutually exclusive. At Pizza Autentico, a mere $20 gets you all you can eat, high-quality pizza and pasta made fresh by Italian chefs for 90 minutes straight.
The unlimited pizza and pasta menu has over 10 pizzas and 5 pastas to choose from, which waiters bring out straight from the kitchen. The pizzas and pastas are served to each diner so you get the opportunity to taste a little bit of everything.
Before we get started on the pizzas and pastas though, a small board of olives, olive tapenade, olive oil and house made bread is brought out to whet the appetite. All the fresh ingredients used at Pizza Autentico are sourced from Salt Meats Cheese in Alexandria, so you know it’s going to be good!
It doesn’t take long for the pizzas to start flowing. Each pizza is brought around and you’re asked if you want a slice. Um… yes please! The first one we try is the n’duja pizza, a napoli sauce base with spicy Italian pork sausage and mozzarella.
I’m always drawn to places that do one thing, and do it very well. To me, it means that all focus and dedication is placed onto one type of food and mastering it, making it the best it possibly can.
There’s no prizes for guessing what Pasta Emilia’s main strength is. The pasta here is made onsite and with organic ingredients, using recipes from the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy which is famous for its pasta. Pasta Emilia makes several types, including fettuccine, strozzapreti and filled pastas like ravioli and tortelli. While these are all available for purchase in convenient take home packs and sauces, we decided to eat in at the rustic, cottage-like cafe in Surry Hills for dinner one night.
We’re here for the pasta so we skip the entrees and dive straight in. The house made strozzapreti is a short pasta that kind of reminds me of DNA strands with its rolled and twisted structure. Strozzapreti literally means “priest stranglers” and legend has it that the name comes from the fact that priests enjoyed the pasta so much, they ate it too quickly and choked themselves! Whether that’s true or not, make sure you savour every mouthful of this strozzapreti that’s mixed with a rich beef ragu topped with a sprinkling of parmesan.