Salamis, ropes of garlic and a leg of prosciutto with hoof attached, hang over the smallgoods counter, a sight that is made even more alluring by the row of five kilo Nutella jars alongside it. Fresh truffles are also sold here, and I catch a lingering trail of their musty allure in the air. In the fridges opposite are cheeses, yoghurts, butter and specialty items like Spanish mojama smoked tuna loins ($180 per kg). I can only smile as the strains of That's Amore swell ver the speaker system.
In the back corner of the room is the pizza stone oven and preparation area. The suckling pigs are also roasted in the tall standing oven. Running adjacent to this are my idea of pre-dinner entertainment - a walk-in cheese room, wine room and champagne room, all of which are refrigerated. The cellar shop is also impressive, grouped by country and tastefully decorated with wicker baskets and dried floral arrangements.
Volcanic sea salt flakes
Head chef Naomi Lowry says that Signorelli Gastronomia is committed offering things that are different and a little out of the ordinary, hence the dishes of black volcanic sea salt flakes that are dispensed with pre-dinner breads and olive oil to each table. The delicate crystals, still in a pyramid shape if you're lucky, always add an extra sense of texture with their shattering fragility.
Antipasto platter $22
The A3 menu acts as a place mat for each table, and D and I deliberate painfully over our choices. Whilst we collaborate, we pick at an antipasto platter, a rustic wooden paddle laden with shavings of
wagyu bresaola, S
an Daniele prosciutto,
Calabrese salame and c
apocollo (coppa) Calabrian dry-cured pork.
Crisp breadsticks, plump olives and a pot of candied oranges provide contrast, and as we nibble our way through the platter, I find myself gravitating toward the San Daniele prosciutto as usual, ribboned with soft melting layers of creamy fat.
Asparagus soup amuse bouche
An amuse bouche of asparagus soup starts proceedings, an elegant shot glass that hides a glob of sour cream that hits the back of the throat with a welcome start.
Fettucine with braised goat, Jerusalem artichoke and chilli $18
The handmade pastas on the menu sound too good to resist, and we end up ordering three pasta dishes. Fettucine with braised goat is autumnal in colour, piled with crimson leaves of bitter radiccio and shards of deep-fried basil leaves and parsley that look like dark green cellophane. The braised goat has been shredded and is surprisingly mild in flavour, although part of me wishes there was a rich sauce alongside it to bring out the gaminess of the goat.
On the sommelier's recommendation, we share a bottle of 2007 Petalos del Bierzo Mencia ($51), a smooth and elegant red made from old vines in north-western Spain that reminds me of blackberries and plums.
Gnocchi quattro formaggi with sage $17
Can gnocchi really be as soft as a pillow?
I'd yet to find this holy grail.
The gnocchi, slicked with a sauce made from four cheeses, dissolves in the mouth like a scoop of the fluffiest mashed potato. I marvel at the sensation as I repeat the process, no chewing required. It's a revelatory experience.
Open lasagna $16
with braised oxtail, bone marrow jus and baby turnip
Open lasagna is another highlight. Silky lasagna sheets are interleaved with braised oxtail, drowned in a salty meaty jus that screams winter comfort food. The dish is a textural winner, the slippery pasta gliding sensually down the throat, occasional finds of plump bone marrow offering a fatty treat.
The open lasagna, we're told, is one of the trattoria's most popular dishes. We're not surprised.
Rangers Valley scotch fillet $36
with fondant potato, house smoked baby beets and mostardo al tartufo
By contrast, I find the Rangers Valley scotch fillet a little disappointing and somewhat chewy, an accompanying side of fondant potato oddly mealy as well. A quenelle of truffle mustard does add a touch of decadence and the house smoked baby beet is delicious - earthy, yielding and sweet.
Pizza stone oven
The trattoria is positioned directly in front of the pizza area, and strategically tilted mirrors above the prep bench enable patrons to watch the chef at work.
Making Nutella pizza - hello five kilos of Nutella!
Of course I'm all eyes when the five kilo jar of Nutella comes out.
D and I are both in the mood for cheese so we order the raclette, a wedge of cheese beautifully served on a wooden cutting board with rosemary-staked quince paste, candied orange, dried muscatels and two wooden spoons of aromatic truffled honey.
Crispbread and sourdough
Crispbread and sourdough is delivered in a recycled plywood crate, the extra care with presentation creating a sense of occasion and attentiveness.
We can't leave without trying the affogato
, their signature dessert. It is unlike any other affogato I've tried, a wooden board holding an espresso, a petite saucepan of vanilla gelato, and a glass platter of Nocello spheres
Nocello, an Italian hazelnut and walnut-flavoured liquer, has been transformed into glossy-looking marbles by a process of spherification using sodium alginate. We pour the cold espresso over the gelato and eat with the spheres of Nocello.
The spheres remind me of salmon roe in texture, a jelly-like membrane that finally gives way to release a burst of liquid. The Nocello doesn't taste very alcoholic, and whilst there's a sense of novelty about the dish, I prefer the traditional simplicity of an icy cold gelato slowly melting from a baptism of espresso. The gelato would probably benefit from being colder so it doesn't melt as much too.
Meantime, I've got a date with a piglet due.
Grab Your Fork and D dined as guests of Signorelli Gastronomia
Accenture building - ground floor
Trouton Place, 48 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8571 0616
Trattoria opening hours:
Lunch Monday to Saturday 12pm-3pm
Dinner Thursday to Saturday 6pm-9.30pm
Store opening hours:
Monday to Friday 10am-8pm
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