“We’re Italian, so we like a lot of people and the place buzzing with energy,” says Alberto Fava, co-owner and head chef at Melbourne’s Tipo 00. “Eating in Italy is about being around the table, having a laugh and creating a feast atmosphere that’s not too serious or formal. Just fun.”
Fava is talking about the event he teamed up with 400 Gradi and Pidapipo for last week. They created a one-off, three-course Italian feast at 400 Gradi’s flagship restaurant in Brunswick.
“To be put alongside the teams at 400 Gradi and Tipo 00 is a great compliment,” says Lisa Valmorbida, owner of Pidapipo. “I’ve really enjoyed working with other professionals in the industry and bouncing ideas off each other.” 400 Gradi owner Johnny Di Francesco agrees. “It’s been a nice challenge to try and complement each other’s dishes and balance out the flavours,” he says. “What’s better than sharing the same interests and passions with someone new?”
The trio sought to reflect their Italian heritage by referencing how they remember eating when growing up – communal seating with food at its centre.
For the Italian feast’s entree, Tipo 00 served asparagus tortelloni (not to be confused with tortellini which is smaller in size) with parmesan, sage and burnt butter. It was one of the first dishes on the menu when Tipo 00 opened in 2014, and Fava says every time it returns to the restaurant’s menu it’s embraced.
“It’s a light dish with a settled and delicate asparagus flavour that’s not overpowering and doesn’t interfere with the following course,” says Fava. “It was an easy choice for us to serve this dish because Victorian asparagus is so beautiful at the moment.”
For the main course, 400 Gradi demonstrated its range of expertise in authentic Italian cooking (beyond pizza) and served braised wild goat with sautéed chicory and roast potatoes. The dish originates from the south of Italy, where wild pig and wild goat form a big part of local cuisine.
“Wild goat can be a little gamey,” says Di Francesco. “But after it’s been slow cooked for five to six hours, and the meat has broken down, it melts in your mouth. The chicory and potatoes then break through the goat flavour and the end result is balanced in flavour and texture.”
To close the night Pidapipo served its bacio and chocolate gelato bombe Alaska.
“Bacio is a traditional Italian flavour I wanted to pair with my favourite dessert – the bomb Alaska,” says Valmorbida. “Not many places have it on the menu because there are so many elements in putting it together – it’s quite special in that way, too.”
To construct the dessert, a chocolate cake is made to form the base. Then chocolate and hazelnut gelato is layered on top.
“We source our hazelnuts from the Piedmont region in Italy because these are known to be the best hazelnuts in the world,” says Valmorbida.
The cake is then piped with Italian meringue (which uses hot sugar to cook the egg whites without an oven) and blowtorched to create crispy edges before being finished with a touch of gold leaf.
Here’s the recipe for Tipo 00’s asparagus tortelloni.
150g butter, divided
75g shallots, finely diced
75g all-purpose flour
500ml full-cream milk, warm
400g asparagus, thinly sliced
100g grated parmesan, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
500g fresh pasta dough
1 tbsp chopped sage
To make asparagus filling, melt the 75g of the butter in a saucepan and cook the shallots until translucent. Add flour and cook for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk in warm milk until smooth. Cook for 10 minutes on lowest heat stirring every minute. Add asparagus and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in 50g of the parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mix into a flat tray and let cool completely.
To make the tortelloni, roll out half the pasta dough 1mm thick and place on a lightly floured workbench. With a 9cm, round pastry cutter, cut 18 circles. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of the asparagus mix into the centre of each circle and brush around with a little water.
Fold one side over to the other to make a semicircle and press around the edges to seal the ravioli, taking care not to trap any air inside it. Take the two corners, twist to meet together and pinch firmly. Repeat until you use all the dough.
To serve, cook the tortelloni in plenty of salted water for 6 minutes. Meanwhile melt the rest of the butter in a large frying pan until brown. Add the sage, salt, a small ladle of the pasta water and the rest of the parmesan. Toss the tortelloni in the pan making sure they are well coated with the sauce.
This dinner and article was created in partnership with the Holden Astra, 2016 European Car of the Year.