Throwing doors open tomorrow in Darlinghurst, is Classico Moderno. It’s the lovechild of Chef Bryan Gerlini, who recently jumped the Inner West ship from Capriccio Osteria, to try his hand solo, in the heart of the city. Drawing upon his experience with Pasi Petanen and his ultra-successful extended short-run restaurant, Café Paci, Gerlini has designed this as a limited-time venture; though the end-date is yet to be determined.
Gerlini will be showcasing his home region, Emilia-Romagna, in Northern Italy. Regional Italian food is not much of a departure for the space, which once housed La Pesa Trattoria, who familiarised Sydney with the dishes of Milan, including ossobuco gremolata on saffron-tinted risotto alla milanese.
The regular menu will centre upon three different Degustation Menus ($65/each). The first will present the land dishes of Emilia; the second, the coast dishes of Romagna; while the third will present vegetarian offerings of the valley, Pianura. At a preview earlier in the week, guests were treated to a cross-section of dishes from across the whole region, starting with the cotechino and lentil sliders that first caught my eye at Capriccio. This time, they are further enhanced with an earthy smear of truffle mayo.
You’ll also find snacks like, cannolo alla mortadella, pistachio-rolled balsamic vinegar cannoli tubes filled with oozing, pink mortadella mousse, or even better piadina.
Native to the Romagna region, these simple, grilled, Italian flatbreads are usually stuffed with cheeses, vegetables and cold cuts, and eaten on the run.
At Classico Moderno, Gerlini has teamed them with prosciutto, stracchino and rocket, making the perfect post-work drinking snack (aperitivo) teamed with a sparkling 2014 Monte Della Vigne 'Lambrusco'.
Not generally a fan of sparkling reds, I was surprisingly quite taken with this wine, which effectively resurrected the maligned Lambrusco using intense strawberry fruit flavours with a twist of something tart.
From the coastal Romagna region, Seppia e Piselli takes a peasant dish usually eaten by fishermen using offcuts and ink, after the best squid is sold off at market.
Offering up two different preparations of squid upon a vividly green lake of pea puree, Gerlini has elevated this dish into a textural mix of land and sea. It'll likely have you reaching for crisp foccacia sticks to scrape up every last remnant.
With perfect bite, carnaroli rice is well-employed in a creamy butternut pumpkin Risotto alla Ferrerese. It’s well complemented by crisp pumpkin seeds and a tangy drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar, though the amaretti biscuit crumb is overkill.
Degustation menus here include all the trimmings, like a pre-dessert of strawberry granita. However if you’re not beholden to long menus, there will also be a three-course option ($45/head) where you choose your own adventure from any of the degustation menus. And if you're a fan of the English trifle, you should probably make sure your selections include Romagna’s Zuppa Inglese - a dessert that pits the nutmeg and clove notes of Alchermes liqueur-soaked sponge cake against chocolate and vanilla custard.
172-174 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst
Ph: (02) 9331 4358