"What's the difference between Northern Italian cuisine and Southern Italian cuisine?" I asked Chef Bryan Gerlini whom I met yesterday at his new pop up Italian restaurant Classico Moderno Restaurant on 172-174 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst in Sydney. "The food is richer in Northern Italy," he tells me, "With the use of more dairy products. The south has more of a Mediterranean influence, so seafood and salads are quite prominent".
This new pop-up is a project by Italian chef Bryan Gerlini. The former head chef of Leichhardt’s Capriccio Osteria, with stints at Darlinghurst’s most famous popup, Café Paci, and local stalwart A Tavola, Bryan specialises in the cuisine of his native Emilia-Romagna. Emilia-Romagna stretches from the Apennine Mountains, through the fertile food bowl of the Po River Valley, to the Adriatic coast. The region is the birthplace of prosciutto di Parma, balsamic vinegar and Parmigiano-Regianno, and home to such Italian staples as tagliatelle Bolognese and lasagne as well as operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Bryan brings his speciality from his hometown to Classical Moderno.
Thanks to Tony Hollingsworth of Ompty Australia, I dined with Tony, Simon Food Favourites and Baked by Andres, who I met for the first time, and we had the pleasure of trying Classico Moderno's 6-course menu inspired by Emilia – the land (meat), Romagna – the coast (seafood), and the vegetarian Pianura – the valley (only $65).
I've always wanted to explore Italy properly but sadly I haven't made the time to visit that country yet and the best way for me to absorb into the food and culture is to visit authentic Italian restaurants and learn about the food and wine from different regions of Italy at restaurants from their chefs and the restaurant owners. As Chef Bryan said, the food in Northern Italy is a lot richer and that comes through as some of his dishes, so a lot of creams and cheeses but having said that, the degustation menu is designed for grazing so you can try a little of everything and absorb those delicious Northern Italian flavours into your tastebuds without feeling too heavy afterwards.
Classico Moderno's menu offers an honest, unpretentious, solid lineup of northern Italian dishes presented perfectly in a straightforward manner.
This is a charming little establishment in the heart of Darlinghurst, on 172-174 Liverpool Street, Sydney which is not too far walk from Museum Station in Sydney CBD.
An epic degustation in the space of an hour and half before rushing back to work. Here are some of the dishes we tried from Chef Bryan's degustation menu.
We started with the cannolo alla mortadella a miniature appetiser with the cream inside the cannoli melting in your mouth.
The second dish reminded me of donuts but it's savoury. The gnocco fritto, essentially fried bread, with chilli mayo, capsicum, chilli powder was delicious and had a bit of kick to it with the chilli powder and if you are not use to chilli, ensure you have some water handy. I loved it.
The seppie and piselli, squid cooked two ways is one of my favourite dishes and it is served with pea puree and you are given some bread to dip into. This is a soul satisfying dish.
Parmigiani di Melanzane, eggplant, tomato saue, basil, parmesan and mozzarella is the dish where the cheeses kicks in with the full Northern Italian experience.
You can't go wrong with a traditional favourite: pasta. This is their spaghetti mancini con ragu di vongole, essentially organic spaghettini served al dente with slow cooked clam ragu.
Risotto dell' Adriatico with carnaroli rice with Adriatic sea-inspired catch of of the day. I thought the risotto looked a little heavy when it came up but as we shared it amongst four people, it was a delicious dish to taste. I might not have been able to finish this by myself and glad I was able to share it. The fish dish was lighter, delicious and beautifully presented.
For dessert we had a delicious cappuccino (chocolate brownie, expresso anglaise and milk gelato.
And a freshing mixed berries sorbet to finish off.
And if you feel like an Aperol Spritz or two or three, they have that covered too!
All in all this is a great little cosy Italian restaurant to try in Darlinghurst with some of the dishes you could share so you can try the different flavours of Northern Italy. It is a pop up venue and will open for 6 months with the possibility of extending.
See.Taste.Do dined as a guest of Classico Moderno courtesy of www.ompty.com
172–174 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst
(02) 9331 4358
Tue & Wed 5.30–10.30pm
Thu to Sat 12–3pm, 5.30–10.30pm