We organised a dinner for 30 pax and managed to get this place at the very last minute. I was not keen on an Italian fine dining, but Pendolino delivered an enjoyable evening that would be the talk of the group for a long time to come.
Under the skillful guidance of Executive Chef and Owner Nino Zoccali, The Restaurant Pendolino resides on the second level of the stunning Strand Arcade in Sydney’s CBD, and boasts a loyal clientele of business, political and fashion elite. Follow the cedar balustrades to the second floor of this 19th-century building and you’ll find Pendolino, where the designer lamps are dimly low – an ambient setting that will keep first dates and the environment happy.
The table olive oils were utter flavour bursts, while house-made bread (rosemary and garlic; fennel-infused rye and walnut; not-so-plain plain) are purpose-built for soaking up these robust drops.
- Agrumato Limone is a fresh and vibrant blend of olive and lemon flavours, made using the traditional agrumato method. It would be exceptional for finishing meat, poultry, fish or vegetables dishes, as well as for cooking desserts, cakes and pastries.
- Cobram Estate Single Varietal Picual is a Spanish olive variety originating in Andalusia and now flourishes in Northern Victoria. Picual is a perfectly balanced oil, displaying clean notes of green olive fruits combined with tomato bush and fig leaf aromas.
- Fruttato Allegro is a robust oil, typical of traditional early harvest Tuscan and Umbrian oils with distinct flavour when paired with wood or coal grilled fish, meats, poultry or vegetables. Equally wonderful with fresh crusty bread.
I did not manage to take photos of their aged red wine and balsamic vinegars, they were perfecto with these cold-pressed EVOO.
Antipasto – Signature Tasting
- Vellutata, Dragoncello Olive Oil.
- Basil & Cashew Pesto, Olive Oil Crisp,
- White Rocks Veal & Free Range Pork Fried Ascolana Olive,
- House Cured Tasmanian Ocean Trout Baccala Rice Cracker
Vellutata, which means “velvety,” is a simple and gentle yet elegant soup. Tonight, it was made with chestnuts. The creamy, nutty soup in the shot glass was wonderfully completed with a dash of dragoncello olive oil, a tarragon infused EVOO.
A tapioca chip fried in olive oil sprinkled with chia seed and topped with a fresh sweet basil and chopped roasted cashew pesto. Delicious.
White Rocks Veal are grown from the male bobby calves that are a by-product of the milk industry. Traditionally bobby calves were destroyed or used as cheap meat as they were an unwanted part of the milking industry. This tender and lean meat is wrapped together with chopped Ascolana olive in pork and pan roasted to a delicious crackling on the skin. An entire dish on a stick.
Smoked Tasmanian ocean trout with bits of baccala (salted cod) served on a rice cracker sprinkled with charcoal salt. The last time I have baccala was in Macau, featured in a classic Portuguese dish. This was quite unique to pair two very salty fish together.
Primo Piatto – Prawn & Stracciatella Fried Zucchini Flowers
Steamed Young Zucchini, Prawn Oil, Onion Cream
Sadly, we cannot get zucchini flowers in Singapore easily and even if we manage to get some from the gourmet grocery, would be lost to create such a beautiful tempura out of it. Here, they took a zucchini flower, stuffed it with Stracciatella di bufala (buffalo milk cheese) and then battered and deep fried the flower. Accompanying the plate were some steamed Japanese cucumber and tempura prawns and an onion cream dip for the fried items. Accentuating the flavours were prawn oil extracted from cooking the prawn heads in oil and charcoal salt. Wonderful first plate that made me looked forward to the rest of the dinner.
Testun Di Barolo Alba Carpaccio
Cape Grim Free Range Tasmanian Beef, Walnut, Aged Cow’s Milk Testun di Barolo Cheese, Siena Morbidi Truffled Pecorino Dolce, Red Sorrel, Burnt Grain – 2021 Pendolino Fruttato Allegro EVOO
This is the way I like my beef carpaccio – not too thin. And the carpaccio was made up many components that the flavours were too complex to describe. Two types of cheeses with contrasting flavours and lots of little texture variations.
Testun al Barolo is a traditional cow’s cheese matured in Nebbiolo grape pressings from Piedmont. The tannins of the grapes give off an extra layer of flavour to this alpine cheese.
Siena Morbidi Truffled Pecorino Dolce is the perfect mariage of a tuscan pecorino with black shaved truffle from piedmont. The milk for all Morbidi cheeses is sourced from local farms in the Siena region and made into cheese within 24 hours of milking.
Secondo Piatto – Gallinella Alla Selvagina
Bannockburn Baby Chicken, Duck & Pistachio Involtino, Black Barley Polenta, Heirloom Asparagus, Pan Dripping Sauce, Duck Skin, Sour Cherries – 2021 Pendleton Reserve EVOO
Involtino is a roulade or thin slices of meat rolled together as a meat roll. This delicious meat roll was made with free range spring chicken from Bannockburn, “wild” duck and a pistachio pesto as filling, within sour cherries and dripping from pan frying the meat roll as the sauce. What stole the show was the black barley polenta cake which I mistook for a blood pudding.
Dolce – Pendolino Classic Nougat Semifreddo
Mondo Torrone, Ligurian Honey and Almond Milk Semifreddo, Strand Nut Shop 1939 Vienna Candied Almonds, Crostoli
I thought it was meringue but it was nougat. Mondo Torrone has been produced in Australia by the Romeo family, and was a favourite souvenir from Perth. This delectable sweet, made from honey and egg whites, dates back to the 16th century Italy and has changed very little over time. Semifreddo has more air incorporated in the mixture, giving it the lighter feel; basically a frozen mousse with mix-ins (Ligurian Honey and Almond Milk) for flavour. The Nut Shop has been producing a premium quality range of nuts and chocolates since 1939, and their bestseller was the Vienna candied almonds made with the same recipe since the beginning.
Cheeses served with Fresh Pear, Grape Marmalade, selection of Carta di Musica, Grissini and Fruit Bread
- Ciresa Taleggio – Made from cow’s milk, firm washed rind, soft centre and nutty flavoured – Lombardy
- Brunet Goat’s Milk Robiola – Rich and creamy with a fresh finish and clean goat’s milk flavours – Piedmont
- Monte Veronese Di Malga Dop – This unique cheese has been matured for 3 years to create a dry, crumbly texture and a very sharp bite with fruity overtones – Veneto
- Riverine Blue – Made from buffalo milk, this cheese has a firm and slightly crumbly texture. It has a subtle, complex and balanced blue flavour with a long lasting finish – Gippsland
We had a wonderful dinner. The service was excellent and the food was excellent. I enjoyed the appetisers especially the amuse bouche. It reminded me of an elaborate keiseki meal. And every course was complex but the tastes harmoniously blended together. I would highly recommend this place if you are in Sydney and wanted a good Italian meal.
The Restaurant Pendolino
Shop 100 Level 2 The Strand Arcade.
412-414 George Street Sydney NSW 2000
Tel : (02) 9231 6117
Visited in Jun 2022
PS: Australian Good Food Guide Chef Hat system is based on the Michelin Star system, it is perhaps a little less intense and runs on a scoring scale from 0-20 points, 12-13 points is “commended”, 14-15 points “worth a stop on the way”, 16-17 points “worth a detour”, 18-19 points “worth a special journey”. It is interesting to note that a score of 20 has never been awarded and rarely has a score of 19 been awarded.
AGFG One Hat