A Tavola, meaning 'to the table' was the daily call to the dinner table for Chef and owner Eugenio Maiale. Growing up in an Italian kitchen is a special experience that as a non Italian I have always been in awe of. It’s like growing up in the best restaurant where daily prep is not spared to mere minutes, but half a day of devotion. This is what qualifies Italians to be the authority on all matters culinary. Eugenio started his education in pasta making in his family's kitchen and his Mama sure taught him well.
A Tavola Darlinghurst was a hive of activity on our arrival. A small dedicated army of friendly chefs were rolling out long sheets of pasta along their gorgeous 10 metre marble table. A Tavola has been serving Sydney's best pasta dishes for over 10 years now. A Tavola Darlinghurst was one of our favourite pre kid haunts. It always felt so romantic out in the courtyard, reminiscent of an Italian summer holiday . . . sigh . . . . Eight years and three kids later I have swapped romantic dinner for my favourite Friday long lunch while my darling children are at school.
The menu was explained in depth by our knowledgable waiter. He had us with pasta so we ordered the 'Ravioli ripieni di zucca' and 'Linguine con gamberi'.
While we were waiting for our pasta we had the perfect stuzzicini (little snack) olive ascolane. Fried, meat stuffed olive balls.
The prawn pasta was so divine. Silky saffron linguini, a bisque tomato base and surprising wafer thin shaved fresh fennel. I'm a sucker for this kind of dish and always order it if it’s on a menu. We had a glass of 2015 La Tunella Rjgialla to match. Ribolla gialla is an ancient grape that grows very well in Friuli Venezia Giulia. The Rjgialla is a medium bodied dry white wine, slightly aromatic with fresh acidity. It is a wonderful match with seafood based dishes. This is an interesting alternative to better known pinot grigio, for anyone who is overwhelmed by the many different Italian grape varieties.
The ravioli with pumpkin, amaretti biscuits and orange, in a creamy chestnut burnt butter sauce with fried sage leaves was amazing. YUM. We had the 'Don Efisio' from Cantina della Vernaccia, by the glass. The grape variety is the beautifully named, native Monica di Sardegna that grows exclusively on the island of Sardinia but is thought to have originated form Spain. It is a light to medium bodied dry red with light tannins and red fruit.
This was delicious! The 'Peracotta', a poached pear with pannacotta in the centre.
And their signature dessert 'Cremino di cioccolato' - layers of all sorts of chocolate. creamy heaven with burnt Swiss meringue on top. We had a glass of the Praesidium Ratafia. Ratafia is a historical Abruzzo liqueur using Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wine with Amarena cherries. Praesidium are a family of dedicated winemakers from the town of Prezza. Father and son farm their land sustainably, offering wines that are an expression not only of their land but of local tradition. This and an espresso were the perfect way to end a fabulous lunch. Now back to reality!
You can find A Tavola Darlinghurst open for lunch and dinner from Monday - Saturday. You can also try one of their other amazing restaurants - A Tavola Bondi, Flour Eggs Water at the Tramsheds or Flour Eggs Water Surry Hills. I know I will, watch this space.
Special thanks to my talented lunch companion, Ann Ouchterlony, who casually took all these gorgeous photos on her iPhone. Aren’t they great?