“For our dinner, we wanted people cheering and drinking with good, simple food and loud house music,” laughs Orazio D’Elia, owner of Da Orazio Pizza & Porchetta. “It was important for our event to reflect who we are.”
D’Elia is talking about last night’s one-off collaboration between D’Elia and Lucio De Falco of Lucio Pizzeria at Broadsheet Restaurant. 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.
Since establishing their own restaurants, the pair has been busy. Last night’s dinner was a catalyst for the friends to reconnect. “I’ve probably spoken to Lucio more in the last week than we have in the last two years!” says D’Elia. “Also, he listens to me. So putting together the menu was easy.” De Falco concurs. “We knew how to pull it off in our own, fun way,” he says.
The pair created a casual environment featuring live food demonstrations and share plates on communal tables of eight. “In one corner we had fresh buffalo mozzarella made on the spot, one by one,” says De Falco. “It was delivered straight to the tables.”
The menu devised by the pair was simple and authentic, combining locally sourced produce with cured meats imported from Italy. “When you source the best ingredients, the dishes can be kept simple, but still have a lot of flavour,” says D’Elia.
Another section featured a beautiful handmade copper deep fryer making fresh arancini and potato croquettes.
Guests were treated to a Da Orazio special – a very traditional Italian Porchetta. An entire 20-kilogram pig was deboned and wrapped like a big sausage before being slow roasted on a spit for seven hours. Guests could see the porchetta displayed, in the centre of the floor, before it was carved and served directly to the tables.
Another crowd favourite 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.
For dessert, the boys served a high-energy treat to help guide guests to the dance floor.
“We chose to make a pasteria Napoletana, which in Italy is an authentic and popular Neapolitan cake made mostly during Easter,” says De Falco. The ricotta cake with orange essence and cooked wheat is a challenge to make, “but was well worth the effort to pump up the d-floor”.
Here’s the recipe for the pair’s Fregola Frutti Di Mare dish from the Holden Astra European Feast 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.
This dinner and article was created in partnership with the Holden Astra, 2016 European Car of the Year.