Spiedo Restaurant has closed.
Spiedo Restaurant and Bar is located at the Level 6 dining precinct of the shiny new Westfield Sydney, one level above the main food court (which I will write about later in this Sydney series).
Spiedo (pronounced “spi-eh-doe”) seats 85 people and serves Lombardian cuisine, including pasta that is handmade fresh daily and its namesake “Spiedo Bresciano”, spit-roasted quail, duck leg, pork scotch fillet and pork ribs – the signature dish of the Lombardian city of Brescia. The staff wear shirts and aprons in an eye-catching emerald green – the colour of the flag of the Northern Italian region of Lombardy.
Spiedo is high on our eating list for our Sydney trip as our brother-in-law JM is one of Spiedo’s co-owners. You may have seen Spiedo’s executive chef Alessandro Pavoni, a striking, strapping bald man on Masterchef Australia and Junior Masterchef, or been to his one hatted restaurant Ormeggio on the Spit.
We enjoy a drink at the bar as we wait for our sister (married to JM) to arrive to join us for dinner. I’d have loved to fly over from Perth in August and help celebrate Spiedo’s launch but wasn’t able to take the time off work. I am so pleased to be here at last.
What I like best is Spiedo’s large open kitchen. I could watch for hours. Head Chef Fulvio Lancione and the team don’t mind at all as I stand at the pass watching and taking photographs – in fact, we all grin at each other – we’re happy doing what we love best. Alessandro Pavoni isn’t in tonight, but I’m told he’s usually at Spiedo at least three times a week.
I’m enjoying myself immensely already, and we haven’t eaten a thing yet!
Our sister arrives and JM shows us to a table with a great view of the kitchen. We start our meal with fresh bread – crusty sourdough and foccacia with herbs and cherry tomatoes, baked daily in Spiedo’s kitchen.
We’ve asked JM to recommend dishes we can share – a Spiedo showcase!
First is the sciatt’ (AU$8) – chewy gooey chunks of melted fontina cheese coated in crunchy buckwheat and grappa tempura, served on finely shredded radicchio dressed in a light vinaigrette with pea puree sauce for dipping.
The beef battuta (AU$20) is the Lombardian version of steak tartare. The finely chopped raw beef is lightly drizzled with egg yolk, mixed with crispy grains of spelt and finely chopped herbs and served with fresh sprigs of watercress and shaved Bagoss cheese. A lacey thin golden piece of toast adds a delicate crunch.
The baccala e merluzzo d’acqua dolce, cannelini, spinaci novelli (AU$20) is highly recommended by JM. A moist piece of poached Murray cod sits on top of a bed of dark green sauteed spinach and creamy puree of baccala (salted cod), with tender cannellini beans. It looks plain but tastes delicious.
It’s love at first sight with the casoncelli alla bresciana (AU$24 entree, AU$31 main). The casoncelli are half-moon pasta pillows filled with a veal and pork mixture, served with a mouth-watering burnt butter sauce with crispy fried sage leaves and salty pancetta lardons. It’s a magical combination of flavours and a cracker of a dish – I secretly wish I had it all to myself.
The bigoli, gamberi di fiume e piselli (AU$24 entree, AU$31 main) is fantastic. Bigoli is a tubular wholemeal pasta similar to bucatini, much thicker than spaghetti. It’s served liberally coated in a sauce enriched with shellfish stock. It’s savoury yet beautifully sweet, and lip-lickingly good – plate-lickingly good too, if no one was watching. The pasta is perfect but it’s the tender yabby meat, the fresh shelled peas and the layer of sweet green pea puree underneath the pasta that make this dish a special treat.
Next is the risotto alla milanese (AU$24 entree, AU$35 main), saffron risotto served with red wine-braised beef cheek. This is a hearty winter dish but has been so popular it’s still on the menu even as we head into the warmer months. The beef is so soft you can eat it with a spoon. It’s dark and treacly and tastes like Marmite. The risotto is so gloriously bright I pretend I’m eating sunshine.
Edit, 22 November 2011: My sister has informed me (see comments below) that as of today, there will be a new menu at Spiedo, and the beef cheek risotto has made way for a seafood version.
And of course we order the restaurant’s signature dish, the one I have been imagining and dreaming about ever since JM first described it to me – the spiedo bresciano (AU$35). It is a carnivore’s fantasy of spit roasted pork rib, pork scotch fillet, quail and duck, served on creamy polenta. It’s a delicate operation to carve up this beauty so we can each have a taste of the four meats. They are tender and juicy from being slowly roasted for five hours and basted with sage and butter.
To go with the beef cheek and spiedo meats, a rocket and parmesan salad (AU$9) and sweet roasted pumpkin with honey and hazelnuts (AU$9). The fresh rocket leaves help cut through the heavy richness of the beef cheek and spiedo. The pumpkin is full of flavour and dangerously moreish.
JM has chosen our menu well – my savoury stomach is full but I haven’t hit food coma and am ready for sweets. We’re keen to try Spiedo’s house-made gelato and choose a trio of flavours (AU$14) – peanut butter, milk and Nutella. Once again, I want to be selfish and run away with the bowl. For me, the Nutella gelato is the pick of the bunch.
We also share a Spiedo dessert plate (AU$18), which features Amadei chocolate barbajada with milk gelato, Spiedo tiramisu and strawberry sorbet, all made in-house. The selection of desserts is well balanced, with sweet, tangy and bitter flavours and different tantalising textures.
The chocolate barbajada is silky smooth with the pleasant bitterness of dark chocolate and coffee.
Spiedo’s tiramisu is a deconstructed version of the Italian classic, with soft airy sponge cake, fluffy whipped marscapone cream, espresso sorbet and chocolate crumbs that delightfully remind me of Milo. Tiramisu purists will probably disapprove!
The strawberry sorbet is bursting with the flavour of fresh strawberries.
JM wheels the Grappa Trolley over and after much deliberation over the grappa menu, Jay enjoys his first grappa.
At Spiedo, you can choose a seat that looks directly into the kitchen and watch your meal being prepared. I love restaurants that give you the opportunity to watch the kitchen in action. There is nothing to hide. As the chefs cook, you can sense their passion and pride – the not-so-secret ingredients that make your food taste better.
If you don’t want to dine in the restaurant, you can enjoy drinks and appetisers (or just drinks) in Spiedo’s stuzzibar, which is to your right as you enter Spiedo.
I’m so proud and happy for my brother-in-law and wish him, Alessandro, Fulvio and the Spiedo team all the best. Hope to see you all again soon for another Lombardian feast.
Spiedo Restaurant has closed.
Spiedo Restaurant and Bar
Shop 2004-6005, Level 6, Westfield Sydney
188 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Telephone: (02) 8072 9999
Monday to Thursday 9am to 11pm
Friday 9am to midnight
Saturday 10am to midnight
Sunday 10am to 11pm
Read Juji’s post on our dinner at Spiedo.