“For our dinner, we wanted people cheering and drinking with good, simple food and loud house music,” laughs Orazio D’Elia, owner and chef at Italian diners Matteo and Matteo Downtown, and former head chef of Da Orazio Pizza & Porchetta. “It was important for our event to reflect who we are.”
D’Elia is talking about his one-off collaboration with Lucio De Falco of Lucio Pizzeria at Broadsheet Restaurant in November 2016. According to De Falco, the pairing of restaurants was, nearly quite literally, a lifetime in the making, “We grew up in the same town in Italy and attended the same school,” says De Falco. “From my window I could see his house. My family knows his family. Sooner or later this had to happen.”
De Falco was the first to move to Australia. D’Elia followed him and for years they lived together, worked together and hit the clubs together every weekend.
A crowd favourite on the night was the Fregola Frutti Di Mare. “It’s an uncommon Sardinian dish,” says De Falco. “It has lots of seafood in it, such as squid, mussels and clams.” A portion of the pebble-shaped pasta (fregola) was lightly toasted before being mixed in with the remaining, normal fregola. “This smoky flavour of the pasta gave it an unusual taste,” says D’Elia.
Here’s the recipe for the pair’s Fregola Frutti Di Mare dish to try at home.
Prep time approximately 15 minutes. Cooking time approximately 20 minutes.
Fregola Frutti Di Mare
300g baby octopus, cleaned
300g calamari, cleaned
500g mussels, cleaned and debearded
500g vongole (clams), cleaned
4 garlic cloves, chopped
5 chillies, chopped
200g ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 white onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
500g Sardinian fregola
1 cup white wine
2 litres fish stock, add as required
20 medium-sized raw prawns
Salt and pepper to personal liking
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ bunch parsley, finely chopped
½ bunch basil, picked
Prepare seafood: peel prawns, cut calamari into small rings, cut octopus into small pieces, rinse mussels and vongole.
Heat oil in a large pan. Cook mussels and vongole until open. Keep juice from the vongole and mussels to add to the fregola later. Discard mussel shells and empty vongole shells.
Heat oil in a small pan with garlic and chilli. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook until softened.
In a large pot, heat oil with onion and bay leaves. Add fregola and toss for a few minutes until lightly toasted.
Add white wine to fregola and stir. Once evaporated, gradually add fish stock, stirring continuously.
Begin adding seafood: first add octopus and cook for approximately 10 minutes while adding small amounts of stock, stirring continuously. Add calamari and prawns. Also, gradually add juice from cooked mussels and vongole for extra flavour.
Add tomatoes to fregola, taste and season again. Stir well.
Add mussels and vongole to fregola with remaining juice. Stir well again until excess juice has evaporated and fregola looks creamy. Mix in parsley.
Plate up and garnish with basil leaves to serve.