Nino Zoccali is the owner/chef of The Restaurant Pendolino, by way of Calabria in Italy and the kitchens of OTTO, La Mensa and Bel Mondo in Sydney.
The Strand Arcade venue provides a perfect backdrop for the elegantly presented and understated decor, with its enticing old-world feel of dark panelling, subdued lighting, exposed brick, linen-covered tables and aperitivo trolley.
The classically themed menu – with a focus on prestigious olive oils from Australia and Italy – is structured around measured two-, three- and four-course options and extends to options for both vegetarians and vegans. For entree, a generous serve of luscious burrata is paired with a honey-laced beetroot jelly, pleasingly cut with an in-house secco vinegar. The secondi options offer compelling choices, from milk-braised pork belly, through a seafood odyssey of Spencer Gulf prawns, Port Lincoln sardines, mussels, scallops and calamari to chargrilled quail, served with a richly satisfying potato tortino and deeply flavoured thyme fondo.
Serves 6 (Makes approximately 60 ravioli)
Pasta dough (makes 600g)
330g plain flour, plus extra for kneading
70g fine semolina
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
4 x 59g free range or organic eggs
You will also need:
330g baby English spinach
260g fresh ricotta cheese
130g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra to serve
100g grated aged buffalo mozzarella cheese
1/3 x 59g beaten free range or organic egg
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fine semolina, for dusting
200g salted butter, chopped
12 sage leaves
Combine the flour, semolina and sea salt and place on a work surface or large wooden board. The flour should form a peaked mound. With your hand, make a hole in the top of the mound so that it resembles a volcano. This hole needs to be big enough to house the eggs. Break the eggs into the hole. With your hands or a fork, gently beat the eggs, then slowly incorporate the flour into the egg mixture. You can do this by moving your hand in a circular motion, slowly incorporating the flour from the inside wall of the mound. Once fully combined, knead a little more flour into the dough if it feels a little wet and sticky. Set the dough aside and clean the work space. Dust some fresh flour onto the work surface and continue kneading the dough for another 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the spinach by blanching in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh in iced water. Squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible. Process the spinach in a food processor or use a mortar and pestle. Mix with the three cheeses, beaten egg and nutmeg, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
To make the ravioli, roll the pasta dough into sheets of less than 1mm thickness. Brush one sheet lightly with water and place ½ tablespoon measures of the spinach mixture roughly 5cm apart. Place another sheet of pasta on top, pressing around the mixture to remove air bubbles. This step is essential. Using a circle cutter of approximately 5-5.5cm in diameter, cut round ravioli shapes, dust lightly with the semolina and place on tray lined with non-stick baking paper.
Cook the ravioli in abundant salted boiling water and drain. Heat the butter in a saucepan and cook the sage leaves over medium-high heat until golden brown in colour. Serve with the ravioli and extra Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.