October 6th, 2010

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Lanzafàme Trattoria

John Lanzafàme’s Pork Belly Pizza ($20) with sweet and sour onion and radicchio is very well balanced, with a wafer thin, crisp base.

It outdoes a similar version I had at Hugo’s Bar Pizza (where John once worked as Executive Chef). Does it live up to the website claim - world's best pizza - well, I guess it depends upon the style of pizza you prefer. I actually reckon my next review tops it... but you'll have to wait and see! Do note that John has won so many gongs for best pizza, he's now not allowed to enter; though he participates as a judge I'm told.

His Meatballs ($18) are better than average too; with three intensely seasoned, roughly minced pork and veal mounds set off by a lightly cooked, sweetish cherry tomato sugo. I note that he does not provide salt or pepper on the table (they will if you ask) at this time... not that the dish needs it.

I’m not even a meatball aficionado; but I do love pig. So it’s only with slight guilt that I also relay that the Pork Belly with Pear and Basil Casserole ($28) contains perfectly rendered slices of pork belly, hunks of well-cooked potato and tender pear dressed in a compelling brown sauce that’s finished by clarified butter.

Add a bowl of Pappardelle with Braised Duck Casserole ($22) with in-house pasta made with half semolina (both tasty and textural), and you have a mighty satisfying modern trattoria-style meal. So sue me for skipping the Nutella and Banana Calzone ($16).

I did enjoy the Australian/Italian wine list though - an Albino Armani Prosecco ($14/glass, $45/bottle) is a clean beginning; and the 2009 Campagnola Soave Le Bine ($12/glass, $55/bottle) also from Veneto, is an easy-drinking mainstay.

Brave the William Street barrier for good, honest food, pizzas and park-ability. Or at least keep your eyes peeled for his next book (out in November 2010) called Family Italian. It's chock full of things you'd actually cook... like a grilled Gorgonzola and Celeriac Salad, and tasty Prosciutto Fritters. Matter of fact, I might keep my eye out for it myself...

Lanzafàme Trattoria
88 Crown Street, Woolloomooloo
Ph: (02) 9331 8881 www.worldsbestpizza.com.au

Lanzafame Trattoria on Urbanspoon
Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

This Week's Column - The Hunt For Wet October

Published in the City Hub and City News.

Last week I explored the varied eats available in October, this week I am all about the drinks. Beer, wine or cocktails, whatever your pleasure, it’s all packed in below!

Japan’s Master of Wine

Just when they had me completely converted to drinking sake with my sushi, Ocean Room is bringing out Ned Goodwin, Japan's first Master of Wine. Now I’m told there are only 281 Masters of Wine in the world; and that Ned gets even spunkier when he talks! So join him on the 11th and 12th October for an exploration of the relationship between five courses of Raita Noda’s Japanese cuisine and a matching set of fine wines ($125/head).

The Winery Wins
If you like your wines but haven’t found your perfect wine bar yet, The Winery in Surry Hills is a great choice! So great in fact, it just won Wine Bar of the Year in the 2010 Australian Bar Awards. Big sister, Kings Cross’s Gazebo Wine Bar has already won the award three times (no mean feat for a bar that’s only five years old), so it’s probably time her younger sibling got a look in! The Keystone Hospitality Group look after both venues and the winning Night Club of the Year, Kit and Kaboodle; so it’s with pleasure I relay that they kept the gong for Group Operator of the Year out of the Hemmes-sphere too. If you hurry, tickets are still available for a canapé, cheese and eight wine expedition hosted by Matt Skinner on Wednesday 13th October for $90/head…

Freestylin’ at Cargo

Another of the Keystone Group stable, Cargo Lounge is offering up the opportunity to see the best bartenders in Sydney fight it out during the esteemed Freestyle Cocktail Sessions on Wednesday October 13th. It’s the home turf of the Australian Hotels Association’s Bartender of the Year Stewart Luk, so the competition is sure to be hot! Pop on down for four of the most tantilising cocktails in Sydney, plus an entire evening of tunes, swapping shakers and tipsy party girls for a measly $40/ticket!

Cheap Wine & a Four-Day Week
If you like to wind down after the working week with a cocktail, look no further than Ruby L’otel in Rozelle. They’ve just launched Flirty Friday's where ladies get a complimentary glass of sparkling wine between 6-7pm. If you stay in the bar for a more than a couple, you can also enjoy $5 Cocktail Classics from 7-10pm, including Mango Daiquiris and Mexican Margaritas. Ruby’s just on the other side of the Anzac Bridge, so it’s well placed for an affordable pre-clubbing watering hole, complete with a great outdoor deck.

Bivalves & Belvedere
After shucking and slurping my way through a cracking dozen of Sydney Rock Oysters from Bateman’s Bay on the weekend, I am more than a little excited about Manta Restaurant & Bar’s annual Oyster & Seafood Festival on Sunday, 17 October 2010. Oysters are shucked on site to order by celebrating growers (who you can probe with questions). Beyond the briny juices, you can also imbibe the usual array of excellent wines and well-made cocktails, including their refreshing Manta Martini with crushed lychees, lemongrass, apple juice and Belvedere Vodka.

Beers Like Big Helga
While I’m not a big beer drinker myself, I really enjoyed a $19.99 six-pack of Matilda Bay’s Big Helga beer last week. Not only is it emblazoned with a busty beer wench; it is also crisp, malty and delicious. You can find it at premium liquor stores or at beer-drinkers heaven, The Australian Beer Festival 2010 at The Australian Hotel on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th October, 12pm-8pm. You can judge beers from over eighteen brewers and wineries, and decide if Big Helga’s good enough to nab your vote in the People’s Choice Best Beer Award. They’re expecting to pour over 20,000 litres of beer, so perhaps a pre-sale ticket and tasting cup ($15 including 10 tasting tickets) is a beery good idea?