For Italians, food isn’t just nourishment, it is life! It’s the most searched cuisine on Google here in Sydney and the most requested and imitated food around the world. In spite of divergence in cooking styles and interpretations from region to region, there is a deep unifying connection Italians have with what they eat. From the extensive knowledge of ingredients used, to the meticulous planning in preparation, at Enzo’s, it’s the connection to his family every diner gets with every meal that is served to your table.
Setting the tone for the evening is an elaborate platter featuring tasters from the entire starter’s selection. It’s a sample of many of the hero dishes stripped down, but so compelling they stand out on their own. The Calamari Fritti, the arancini, BBQ octopus, pork belly, garlic prawns, and halloumi all have their own prescribed accompaniments when served at full portion. From aioli and lemon, red wine jus, napolitana sauce, lemon dressing, local honey and rocket, somehow this special assembly becomes a dish of its own while spectacularly representing the introductory section of the menu.
Family gatherings are frequent in Italy, often centred around food and the extended networks of families. It’s the only way to experience a 5 course showcase like this one, and on this occasion, our host Food Blogger Australia has assembled 40 of the most passionate food lovers together in one monumental celebration to experience the true essence behind this cuisine’s culture.
An invitation to Enzo Cucina’s table, is an invitation to his family’s table. The items selected in the evening’s menu honoring the integrity inherent in authentic food values of Italian culture.
POLPETTE AL POMODORO is a menu staple first served at the original store in Chipping Norton and has continued to delight for the past 8 years. These Italian meatballs are cooked in Napolitana sauce with parmesan cheese that’s been grilled into the shape and texture of wafers that break at the slightest touch. It’s Enzo’s mother’s recipe, many of which are at the heart of the menu.
GNOCCHI BEEF CHEEK are matched perfectly. The soft pillowy textures of the Potato dumplings pan tossed with slow cooked beef cheek providing the perfect vehicle for their home made Napolitana sauce. The gnocchi used in all dishes at Enzo’s is made fresh on site by Enzo’s nephews.
It’s all about beautiful simplicity in Italian cuisine and the LINGUINE AL GAMBERETTI uses a simple dressing of virgin olive oil, chilli, garlic and parsley allowing the contrasting raw flavors of bacon and prawn to dominate.
This is also seen in their MARGHERITA pizza of Tomato, mozzarella with oregano and their proscuitto, rocket and parmesan pizza.
The RISOTTO PESCATORE of Octopus, mussels, calamari, prawns, vongole in a fresh Napolitana sauce is the star attraction. This is a recipe Enzo’s father use to cook up for the family. As we’re served this dramatic dish with crab claws climbing out of the plate, a sense of closeness and warmth layers our experience as the portrait of this man’s recipe watches over us on the feature wall. It’s a beautifully presented dish, sculpturesque in form, the rich broth absorbed into the rice with hues of sweetness from the crustaceans that jewel this dish.
Enzo’s sister crafts the desserts and there are 12 to choose from. It was a symphony of ‘oooooo’s and ‘aaaaahhhhh’s as the end note to a great meal came out. Each plate buildng on the next. The silky wobble of the panna cotta, the lacy encasement of crepe both feature nutella – an impossible choice!
The spongy pudding of caramel and finely chopped dates and the puff pastry seeds filled with ricotta, masacarpone, goats cheese, sultanas, fried and served with pistachio crumbs, vanilla gelato, honey castor and sugar!
The secret to maintaining consistency and their personal connection to diners across all locations in Kemps Creek, Chipping Norton, Casula, Glen Alpine and Northmead is the consistency across the board in their core dishes. Every meatball made by mama, every gnocchi dish made by his nephews, the tribute in the way Enzo’s father’s seafood risotto is made to the desserts his sister makes is genuinely one big family affair.
In reaching this level of perfection, very little change has been needed to their menu since the opening of its flagship in Chipping Norton. Very few can boast such a unique proposition propelling this chain of restaurants into one of the destinations for rustic Italian in the Western Sydney dining scene.
Joseph Lloyd, Contributor
Photo Credit: @sydneyfoodfreak_