“A tavola!”. Like chef Eugenio, it’s a phrase that reminds me of my childhood. It’s what Mamma Rosa or Dad would say to summon us for meals, and my sisters and I would bound to the said tavola, trying to get there before our brother to make sure he wouldn’t steal all the best bits of chicken. (I also remember coming home from school one day and deciding I was no longer going to call our father “Papa”, but go mainstream and call him Dad. It was highly controversial at the time.)
It’s a long communal table, also reminiscent of family gatherings growing up – although we would have packed in 40 aunts/uncles/third cousins/neighbours/randoms who showed up at our place – in the space where they put 20. Always room for one more!
Fridays is the only day they are open for lunch, and we are led to a light filled small room down some stairs, while the long marble table is covered with flour, pasta sheets and little hand operated pasta machines. The team is busy, carefully creating their hand made pasta for the night ahead.
I don’t need a lot of words to describe the food. Its simple and just lovely.
We start with the Ricotta di Buffala con Insalatina, which is almost too pretty to eat. The ricotta is outstanding and works well with the vegetables.
Then onto carpaccio, again beautifully presented, delicate, and flavoursome.
My friend and I both opt for ragu – mine a more traditional pork, veal and chicken, with rigatoni, and hers the special lamb ragu with silky smooth parpadelle. For me, when I eat out at an Italian place, their ragu is always the benchmark, the dish that tells me that they know what they’re doing. This most definitely passes the mark, and Mamma Rosa would approve – the sauce is well seasoned and full bodied, the pasta al dente.
I wasn’t going to have desert, but then I heard the words custard and ice cream – soft pillows of deep fried custard with silky ricotta ice cream, to be precise. A gorgeous combination. Don’t think about it, just say yes.
Go take a seat at the table. You’ll be very glad you did.
A tavola, 348 Victoria St, Darlinghurst, Ph (02) 9331 7871