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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Signorelli Gastronomia, Pyrmont

suckling pig
Signorelli Gastronomia whole porchetta with agrodolce (24hrs' notice required)

"Do you mind if I take a photo?"

I often wonder if it's socially acceptable when dining out to ask another table if I can photograph their food, but tonight is the first time I act on it. The listing of a whole suckling pig on the menu at Signorelli Gastronomia sends my pulse racing until I read the 24-hour pre-order condition and my heart sinks.

When a baby pig is delivered to a table behind us, the entire room of patrons swivel their necks in its direction. The pig is actually quite small in size, and the six Asian diners are already snapping photos on their cameras and iPhones.

I sidle up shyly, camera in hand, and ask politely. "Sure," one of the group members replies, and motions his hand toward the dish. After I've taken a shot, he offers "I can take a photo of you with the pig if you want." I laugh, and politely decline.

The pig, roasted whole in the oven until gift-wrapped in crackling, is chopped up and served on two plates. According to the menu, the whole pig is served with creamed potato, brussel sprouts and cavolo nero and costs $40 per person (minimum 6 people). I think I know where I'm heading for my birthday dinner!

Signorelli Gastronomia is not easily found without directions. You wouldn't know it was hidden on the ground floor of the Accenture building at Pyrmont - there are no signs at the entrance, and even when I walk past the security desk, I'm still not quite sure I'm in the right place.

And then, there it is. A gleaming providore that is like a wonderland of treats - shelves of gourmet items to the left, a view of the expansive kitchen on your right and a well-stocked deli counter that beckons straight ahead.

Smallgoods counter

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.

Cheese room

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.

black salt
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
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.

Until now.

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
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.

Affogato $9.50

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 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
Signorelli Gastronomia on Urbanspoon

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
Sunday 12pm-4pm

Dinner Thursday to Saturday 6pm-9.30pm

Store opening hours:
Monday to Friday 10am-8pm
Saturday 10am-4pm
Sunday 12pm-4pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Pyrmont - 1945 (Dutch Indonesian)
Pyrmont - Sean's Kitchen (Modern Australian)

22 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/08/2010 02:49:00 am


  • At 9/08/2010 6:43 am, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    Oh my god, I thought you had a roasted pig again WITHOUT ME!! please call me, next time you are planning to have one!

    Looks like a really nice place. The gnocchi sounds like an interesting dish to try. Is it just me thinking nice restaurants have been opening up in Pyrmont these days?

  • At 9/08/2010 7:58 am, Blogger Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    LOL! @ the pig picture taking...you crack me up! All the food looks mighty decadent and those nocello spheres...whoa!

  • At 9/08/2010 8:19 am, Blogger Shanks said…

    Any place that serves whole suckling pig and has a cheese room has won me over. What an awesome find!!

  • At 9/08/2010 9:13 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    I have to second what Yas said! If you ever come back I better get a call from you first LOL. That dessert looked amazing!

  • At 9/08/2010 9:58 am, Blogger Laura said…

    I've been meaning to have a pizza here!

  • At 9/08/2010 10:41 am, Blogger Ladybird said…

    The question remains.. where can one buy a 5kg jar of nutella?! :D

  • At 9/08/2010 10:47 am, Anonymous Mrs Pigflyin said…

    Me too will be disappointed if I don't get an invite to your suckling pig birthday party! I wonder how many suckling pigs they can offer in one night, at this rate, we will need at least three to feed everyone who are putting their hands up to be there :)

    Do you have a special album to keep all the suckling pig photos you have taken? Are you going to do a "best suckling pig in Sydney" review?

  • At 9/08/2010 10:55 am, Blogger the dainty baker said…

    I am so checking this place out!!!

  • At 9/08/2010 11:22 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Come on Helen. I would have at least liked to have seen a photo of you holding the pig snout up to your own nose, like some fool did at Chophouse recently!
    This place has been on my wish list for quite some time now. Those spheres look beautiful!

  • At 9/08/2010 11:32 am, Blogger Amy said…

    Thank you for this post! I'm ashamed to say I am a Pyrmont resident, and I had no idea this place existed!!!!



  • At 9/08/2010 11:34 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    uh so.. can i come to your bday party! and i totes want to hug that 5kg jar of nutella!

  • At 9/08/2010 12:18 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    You make that gnocchi sound like utter heaven. *swoon*

  • At 9/08/2010 12:18 pm, Anonymous Jacq said…

    pick me pick me for suckling pig! :P The pastas look great, especially that gnocchi and open lasagne. I wonder where they get those 5kg jars of nutella from coz I want one!

  • At 9/08/2010 12:41 pm, Anonymous Howard said…

    This looks awesome, good to see Pyrmont getting some love as well and not just Surry Hills!

  • At 9/08/2010 12:52 pm, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    ROFL that is awesome you asked to take a photo of the little piggy. I think I need to go try the gnocchi, can't say I've had a good one yet and that one sounds amazing!

  • At 9/08/2010 4:19 pm, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    I was just about to say u had another suckling pig without us! I am sure you wont say no if they offer you a tile of the crackles ;)

    This place looks really very passionate and genuine with their food. Now I can totally understand when you told me you've had better gnocchi the other day. Just look at those fluffy pillows!

    And yes, I would like to book a seat at Helen's suckling pig birthday party!

  • At 9/08/2010 9:30 pm, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    More suckling piggy?! Yes please!

    Those nocello things look like... frog's eggs... as far as my National Geographic knowledge goes... :S

  • At 9/08/2010 9:33 pm, Anonymous Trissa said…

    Thanks Helen for sharing this restaurant with us. I would go just to have a taste for the pig alone! But I was also intrigued with the gnocchi... especially when I saw the "soft as a pillow" comment of yours... I've been looking for this holy grail as well!

  • At 9/09/2010 10:05 am, Blogger Lilia said…

    I know that I had been stalking your blog for almost 3 years (?)and met you first time at Eveleigh Market launching in January.
    Can I raise my hand to celebrate your birthday with that suckling pig? I don't mind to pay for these dinner as I want to see other foodbloggers though I'm a lazy one due to my neverending rotating shift work. Hopefully I'm not rostered on night shift on your birthday.

  • At 9/09/2010 9:29 pm, Blogger mademoiselle délicieuse said…

    A whole roast piglet and 5kg of Nutella? Now that's amore!

  • At 9/14/2010 6:08 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Thank you everyone for your comments!

    Yas - lol. I definitely will, and yes, Pyrmont seems to be buzzing lately!

    Peter G - I try, but I still can't sing Like A Prayer as well as you. lol

    Shanks - It's a great spot!

    Minh - Join the queue!

    Ladybird - From Signorelli Gastronomia. They're on the counter at the deli so I presume they're for sale.

    Mrs Pigflyin - I think it'll be a pig party to rival no other! And lol, that sounds like my kinda ideal research project!

    John - Not someone else's snout!

    chocolatesuze - haha, that is totally something you would do.

    Hannah - It was!

    Jacq - Get yo'self down to Signorelli. Stat!

    Howard - I agree. Good to see Sydney growing gastronomically.

    Stephcookie - I knew I would regret it if I didn't!

    Billy - The gnocchi was amazing!

    Lilia - Haven't organised anything yet but I'll see what I can do :)

  • At 1/31/2011 4:32 pm, Blogger Miss Feathers said…

    That is always a problem I find! I'm glad they said yes - it's a great picture! I loved this place. Heading back again soon hopefully!


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