Mantecato: a term describing the final, vigorous whisking of butter into a risotto and the apt name of Balmain’s cosy risotto restaurant. Dedicated to the art of true al-dente risotto, Mantecato’s kitchen makes its way through a tonne of fine Italian carnaroli rice every year.
The concept came to life in 2014 when Italian-born identical twins Paolo and Marco Orso teamed up with the owners of neighbouring restaurant Rosso Pomodoro Pizzeria. The twins have been in the hospitality industry their entire adult lives, across Italy and Australia.
The rustic yet chic interior was designed by Paolo’s partner and interior designer Larissa Raywood. Quirky touches such as a feature wall plastered with old Italian newspapers and wooden ladders lent against the walls add warmth and charm. Ditto for the wooden grappa trolley wheeled around to display the after-dinner drink offerings.
There are five different risottos on the menu, including porcini mushroom and a leek version finished with duck ragù. There’s also a risotto special that changes weekly.
Risotto isn’t the only star, though. The handmade tagliatelle with beef and pork ragù is an all-time favourite among regulars. Wine is vital to the entire operation with more than 300 varieties to choose from, 95 per cent of which are imported from Italy.