All the way from Tuscany to Sydney.
Until a few years ago, one of the most surprising things about the harbour city was how few restaurants and bars Sydney had anywhere near the water. That’s all changing. On Sydney’s King Street Wharf – the more upmarket extension of Darling Harbour – Casa di Nico has recently been re-launched as Casa Ristorante Italiano.
The menu is made up mainly of expertly delivered Italian classics – arancini, pasta, pizza and tiramisu – but there are surprises and delights to be discovered, too. The entrees include calamari fritti and stuffed zucchini flowers subtly flavoured with fetta, sun-dried tomato and a hint of olive.
The pork belly with truffle mash and seared scallops accompanied by a mauve sauce of apple mousse and red cabbage is a real winner. As is the beef tenderloin. Slow roasted at 65 degrees and topped with sweetly caramelised onions and pancetta, it’s exceptionally tender and cooked to a perfect medium rare. The accompanying truffle mash is subtle and creamy.
The wood-fired pizza oven has been imported all the way from Tuscany, which seems a bit absurd at first – until you taste the pizza. There are some pizzas that you regret immediately after you eat them – mass-produced, doughy and covered in manufactured muck – and then there are the pizzas of Italy that very rightly took the world by storm.
The pizzas at Casa Ristorante Italiano fall firmly into the latter category. The bases are air-spun by hand to be as thin as Italian tradition demands, before being delicately scattered with the finest ingredients, such as aged Parma prosciutto, marinated lamb and fior di latte mozzarella (which means literally ‘the flower of the milk’). The crust is that perfect mix of crispness and elasticity. The food is complemented by a decent wine list, with most selections available by the glass.
In Italy, everyone cares about food. The restaurants are just as likely to be filled with builders as they are with professionals in Zegna suits; no matter what they do for a living, Italians know how to live.
By David Evan Giles
Casa Ristorante Italiano w: www.lovecasa.com.au t: (02) 9279 2000 a: King Street Wharf, 42-48 The Promenade, Sydney NSW 2000