The beloved restaurant name Andiamo has grown alot in the past 5 years, replicating the magic of rustic feasting from its flagship base in Summer Hill. Flawlessly, its charm and character have since also seduced the palettes of Kensington Street, Chippendale, Rhodes and more recently Abbotsford.
Summer Hill is in a unique position to its sister venues, particularly when the original venue is what set the bar high in the first place. The service team of Kevin and Liam who have become innerwest celebrities for locals, to the swift choreography in and around the wood fired pizza oven, mass producing pizzas for visting diners as well as delivery.
This evening’s menu marked the antecedent of a series of events planned at Andiamo Summer Hill. Each event will be transporting you on a taste journey to specific regions of Italy. ‘Tavola di Luca” (Chef’s Table) is the new concept headed by Chef Gianluca Melis. Luca uses ingredients that are “fresh from the market today and on your plate tonight”, says owner, Joe Rechichi. Flavour influences come from Sardinia, where Luca grew up in the South of Italy.
It was the perfect debut to long time Summer Hill diners as the 6 course degustation of Sardinian dishes had personal ties with Chef Luca’s grandparents and mother. His calm demeanor and meticulous detail in the kitchen was showcased with the announcement he would also be heading up the da Vinci’s which has recently been aquired into the restaurant group. “It’s going to be something different altogether when it comes to the Italian that Luca will be heading up. It’s going to be similar to the food to that served here” says Rechichi.
It was like a stunning showcase of culinary couture as Chef Luca took the Andiamo kitchen into unchartered territory. All courses were accompanied with wine from Sardinia, immersing diners completely into this style of cuisine which has deep roots in agropastorality.
Thin wafers are a staple in the Sardine antipasti, so the lead-in basket of Carasau Bread with fresh tomato of crisp textures and natural tomato flavors sets the tone together with the cured Pork fillet with Rocket & Apple. This was a beautiful pairingwith the caramelized sweetness in the Antichi Poderi Jerzu – Vermentino di Sardegna wine accompanying this. Perfectly rounded off with sips from the Maccori grapes treated with the strong mistral winds blowing in from the north-west Mediterranean.
The primi (appetiser) of hand made pork sausage and fennel seeds requires no sauce. It’s natural juices bathe in its spiral construction allowing the meat and herb to intertwine beautifully. This represents the epitome of Sardinian style cooking. No sauce required – keep things real!
The island of Sardinian cuisine wouldn’t be complete without seafood. Baby clams are served with hand rolled Fregola Risotatta – the perfect example of Mediterranean and Italian fusion in which this island has strong influences. There are many many versions of this dish throughout Sardinia. Native only to Sardinia, it’s somewhere in between risotto and pasta taking the form of 2mm beads. Nice earthy brothe paired with the floral fruitiness of the vermin to grape wine.
The heart of our meal came with the Secondi (Main) pork roast. A world famous signature of the islands, it is served in the chicory plant, absorbing that subtle woody flavour into its meat, rounded off with sips of the warmth from the Bantu annonau wine.
Dessert blends orange zest, ricotta and corbezzolo honey into a centre of crisp pastry and accompanied with In Fudu moscato. This is an excellent finale to a region not focused on as much in the mainstream.
Chef Luca will have his hands full as he continues with his chef table series with upcoming events taking us through the style of cooking in Calabria and Sicily! It is a perfect prelude as he crafts the new style of cooking that will form the revitalized menu of da Vinci’s next door. As the master of two kitchens, it will be interesting to see the full creativity unleashed with these event nights at Andiamo while still maintaining it’s own style and feel at da Vinci’s. Very exciting times in the inner west indeed!
Joseph Lloyd, Contributor