One of the best part of starting a food blog is having the opportunity to meet new friends. A few weeks ago, I was rushing to Pendolino after work en route to meeting two lovely ladies Trissa from Trissalicious and Kath from A Cupcake or Two.
This was the first time I met Kath and Trissa, but being a happy and talkative group - there was no need for first date nerves! The venue for our dinner tonight was Penolino - the exquisite and classic Italian restaurant at Sydney's Strand Arcade. What happens at Pendolino stays at Pendolino - but what I can share was the array of delicious dishes we had. Oh and a little fun fact that came about that evening - My Parents actually had one of their first dates and frequented Trissa's parents restaurant in the Philippines, small world - brought together by the love for good food!
Carbs were not the enemy that evening and we polish off the initial serve of Italian bread. There is a selection of Pendolino's specialty olive oil blends for us to try - the Frutatto, Limone (Olive and Lemon) and the Sanguinella (Blood Orange). I have an addiction to olive oil - but I have to say I was more drawn to the fruttato blend, the more traditional variety - rather than the flavoured oil.
For our Entrees, I start with the Burrata. For those who are not familiar with this italian piece of heaven, it is made from mozarella and cream - with a soft and almost watery texture in the inside. Burrata does not have a very strong flavour at all, and I love drizzling olive or truffle oil over it. My Buratta is serve with marinated tomatoes breadcrums for that added saltiness and crunch.
Kath orderes the Brodetto all' anconetana con sagnette e peperoncini "Bastardini" - A mouthfull, but essentially is a Ancona style Prawn, Baby Scallop, Calamari, Mussel and Fish Broth with Fresh Sagnette Pasta, and a Dried Chilli.
The entree Trissa orders is the Trota Salmonata con Erbette which is Ocean Trout house marinated with Capers and dressed with Anchovy Mayonnaise, Lemon Vinaigrette, Baby Herbs. Isn't it how when you are in a talkative group that it all goes quiet when the food starts to arrive?
For my main I order the nights special dish which is a tagiatelle pasta with slow cooked beef, peas and pancetta. This pasta dish is absolutely delicious - the crispy pancetta adds saltiness and crunch once again and the slow cooked beef just melts in your mouth. The peas also give a welcome burst of sweetness.
Kath orders the Porchetta al Finocchio which has a Roasted Rosemary and Fennel Scented Pork Belly. The crackling is mouth-wateringly crispy and is contrasted by the Cannellini Bean Puree, Fennel and Orange salad. Although I was very jealous at the sight of the pork belly, I consider fennel to be one of my many foes.
The other pasta dish ordered was Trissa's Mezzalune di Male con Guanciale Brasato e fave. To us non-italians, its a Handmade Half Moon Mezzalune Ravioli with Braised Pork Belly, Pork Cheek, Fava Beans and more of that crispy salty pancetta. All the pastas at Pendolino are handmade in a special "Pasta Kitchen" and made with organic eggs. Nothing like a good quality pasta to really bring out the flavour of a excellent dish.
The service could not be faulted, the waitstaff remains attentive and helpful throughout the evening as all the other tables fill up with more hungry CBD workers. The atmosphere of this place is old-world elegant, very fitting for a classy escape within the CBD.
I was so full that I thought I could not fit another crumb. I figured an Afogatto would perk me up from a food coma. What arrived was not just any plain old Afogatto - the generous scoop of ice cream had a strong vanilla bean flavour and there was the much needed shot of coffee and amoretto for a 'kick'.
Kath's Semifreddo di toronne alle mandorle looked divine. It was a tower of Nougat, Ligurian Honey and Almond Milk Semifreddo with Candied Almond and Crostoli - I have to admit I had some serious dessert envy at the time.
Now an Italian meal is never complete without the presence of a cheese plate's. The formaggi misti is a selection of 3 cheeses served with Grapes, Dried Figs and a selection of fruit bread and grisini.
Now for The Empty Fridge scorecard:
- The Peak - Well of course it was the company - but I would definitely recommend any pasta dish here, it's fresh made and the highest of high quality
- The Pitt - A food bloggers worst nightmare is the super dark lighting - apologies for the yellow tinge. But quite romantic, of course!
- Empty Fridge Dish of the Day - Hands down the Burrata.
- SMH Good Food Guide awarded Pendolino with 1 Hat in 2010
I truly enjoyed my first dining visit to Pendolino - I have to admit that walking into the L'olioteca was a highlight. Oh to be able to guzzle up all that olive oil!
Thank you to Kath and Trissa once again for inviting me to dinner and I cannot wait until the next romantic dinner date!
414 George St 100 Level 2 412 The Strand Arcade 02 9231 6117 www.pendolino.com.au