Italian food is truly one of the great cuisines of the world today. Every city with a vibrant Italian community will enjoy the culinary delights of cafes, restaurants and pizzerias dishing up modern and traditional takes on the popular pizzas and pastas.
In Australia, Sydney is no exception and from its little Italian heartland of Leichhardt, Italian cuisine has slowly spread across to most suburbs such as Haberfield and Glebe in the inner west to Paddington in the east and Neutral Bay and Mosman in the north.
Almost every neighbourhood in Sydney will have its local pizzeria because hearty homemade pizza and pasta are comfort food. It is food that makes us smile when we remember nonna’s timeless recipes cooked from the heart.
Tonight, we are at Chiswick Pizzeria Ristorante in Chiswick, a peninsula suburb by the water’s edge 9km north west of Sydney CBD. This restaurant prides itself in serving hearty and home-style Italian where “nonna” is at the centre of the kitchen and its recipes.
We are having a 2010 Peter Lehmann Classic Riesling and this is one of my favourite styles of white wine. This particular bottle is dry and crisp with lingering citrusy flavours.
The open style kitchen at the main dining room provides diners with some kitchen theatrics and fresh pizzas being made.
Our Special Deli Pizza arrives where a thin crust is topped with sundried tomatoes, wafer thin slices of prosciutto, mozzarella, bocchini, shaved parmigiano reggiano and fresh rocket leaves.
I absolutely adore thin crust pizza because less dough means more flavour from the toppings and this particular one is deliciously good with its fresh ingredients.
The homemade meatballs with Napoletana sauce are larger than the average size of meatballs that I am used to at restaurants. According to our host and restaurant owner George, the meatballs is nonna’s special recipe. I love good meatballs and nonna’s combination of beef and shoulder pork mince with breadcrumbs are just right to render the insides very tender and succulent.
Bits of finely chopped continental parsley and fresh basil leaves add beautiful herb flavours to the tomato sauce.
The octopus barese comes with a little spice in fresh red chillies. I like the slightly firm and chewy texture of the octopus. Apart from my preferred style of having it simply grilled with some olive oil, a pinch of salt, cracked black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, this Napoli sauce is a great alternative with its whole peeled tomatoes, red wine, garlic, onions and herbs.
The gnocchi with Italian sausages is slightly too firm for our liking but nevertheless, the flavours of the Italian sausages makes this dish a worthy contender in the home-style stakes. This is tasty and delicious comfort food where I am equally happy to eat in a restaurant with friends or at home in front of the telly.
I like this penne siciliana because the pasta is boldly al dente while the eggplant, capers and onions in this sauce is full of hearty flavours.
Towards the end of our meal, we have the pleasure of meeting nonna, who wanders out from the kitchen to have a glass of wine with us. She tells us about her philosophy of only the freshest ingredients being allowed into her cooking pot.
A delightful lady who truly enjoys being in the kitchen to create beautiful meals for her customers, she also loves to cook these home-style recipes for family.
Our tiramisu dessert is one of the best I have experienced. Soft and moist as it should be, the flavours of the coffee and liqueur are subtle and elegant.
To top off our delightful meal, our host and restaurant owner George pours us a couple of chilled homemade limoncello shots from a frozen bottle where even the alcohol has been home-brewed.
The zesty lemon flavour with a good alcohol kick became the perfect ending to a hearty Italian meal.
I would love to see more of these home-style, neighbourhood Italian restaurants in Sydney.
So dear readers, do you have a favourite Italian restaurant in your city?
Note: ChopinandMysaucepan dined as guests of Chiswick Pizzeria Ristorante
Chiswick Pizzeria Ristorante
3b, 45 Blackwall Point road, Chiswick
Sydney, New South Wales
Tel: + 61 2 9712 1274
Peter Lehmann of the Barossa
Para road, Tanunda
South Australia 5352
Cellar door (08) 8565 9555
Winery (08) 8565 9500
Cellar Door wine tasting and sales:
Monday to Friday 9.30am – 5.00pm
Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays 10.30am – 4.30pm
Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day
See Location Map