Alessandro Pavoni was born and trained in Brescia in Lombardy in northern Italy. He moved to Sydney in 2003 and became Executive Chef at the famous Park Hyatt Hotel in the heritage area of the Rocks in Sydney CBD in 2005, and later went on to open Ormeggio at the Spit in 2009 (Ormeggio in Italian is mooring). Before that, Alessandro worked at La Rotonde in France and two Michelin-starred Villa Fiordaliso on Lake Garda, Italy and as well as Restaurant Lido in Bermuda.
Omeggio restaurant has received Two Hats in SMH Good Food Guide, Two Glasses from Gourmet Traveller for the wine list, and is listed in the Top 100 Australian restaurants from Gourmet Traveller. Alessandro recently opened his second restaurant Spiedo – a Westfield Sydney restaurant.
Ormeggio takes advantage of the location on Middle Harbour – it wraps its big arms around you with natural beauty, the space dappled in summer light – we sat by the edge of the water watching the yachts coming through Spit Bridge. The inside space is nothing interesting (quite boring really) but with such a beautiful position you need nothing else, You just let the blue, diamond studded waters – and your food (that’s if it’s good enough ?) do the work.
We indulged in the Ormeggio Sapori experience and went for the five course menu at lunch ($69). We ate a journey through Australian influenced contemporary North Italian food, starting with Flinders Island wallaby battuta – watermelon rind – amaranth – chorizo powder. Finely chopped carpaccio of wallaby tender and just a slightly sweet minerally taste of blood, with the watery crunch from the cubes of watermelon rind, eschallots and spice of chorizo powder all combining to deliver a satisfying warm meatiness on the palate.
Carnaroli risotto, buffalo mozzarella, tomato, capers, olives, basil. The Italian waiter talked to us about the firm bite of the carnaroli, and being cooked in tomato water. This was a simple tasting risotto with a few classic flavours. But the sunny smell of summer tomatos lingering in our thoughts from the tomato cooking water, our tongues covered in creamy sexy saltiness, from the mozzarella and olives – firmness of the grains between our teeth and the smooth lasting finish of the butter and olive oil. This was one of those risottos that shut us up on the first mouthfull and that takes some doing, now the main objective was to simply succumb to this risotto – and we were not even in Milan!
Charcoal wagyu beef flank – watercress – baby beetroot -sesame seeds. Tender, encrusted wagyu long cooked at 55 degrees – the wagyu surrendered in our mouths with a soft texture full of big meat and some smoky flavours. The fresh green taste of the watercress puree was like a hot first date and the Moorish ground sesame seeds with the crunch of the dark ruby baby beets – an exciting climax of flavours that left you needing more.
Next the first of two dolci or more like a palate cleanser. Pomegranate, yoghurt, rye biscuit – a pomegranate jelly and then pomegranate jelly with cream – alongside a natural yoghurt and crisp rye biscuits crumbs. This delivered a sudden lift from the sharp pomegranate jelly and then all collapsing with the smooth cream and yogurt in the end. More balance and lightness than your usual sugar packed desserts with the natural taste/texture from the biscuit crumbs. Serious sugar lovers might be temped to say this is more like what your first meal of the day should be.
Amedei tuscan black chocolate – olive oil -sourdough – raspberry. We loved this dessert – few chocolate makers can deliver what is necessary to make the chocolate in this type of dessert – where the flavour has to be pure and to the point. The French chocolate maker Valhrona is one of our favourites – the other is Amedei from Tuscany, which is what Ormeggio used here. Fresh tangy raspberry – the lustful dark forbidden, almost bitter flavour from this chocolate – the soothing but hidden herbaceousness of olive oil, natural balance of the dried sourdough crumbs – this tasted so much better than it looked.
Ormeggio restaurant at the Spit is very sexy and it doesn’t try to be, it just is, and the food of chef Alessandro Pavoni is very good!
The wine list is naturally Italian influenced – but also includes a strong regional Australian contingent which is why Ormeggio’s wine list was awarded two Glasses by Gourmet Traveller Wine Awards of 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Ormeggio is open for lunch - Friday to Sunday 12pm-3pm and dinner – Wed to Sat 6pm-11pm, Sun 6pm-10pm. There’s an a la carte menu for dinner or you can choose degustation options – 2 course ($49), 3 courses ($59) – inc. a glass of wine – or 5 course degustation ($69). With the combination of very good food, informative service and the best location Ormeggio delivers a cool Sydney restaurant.
Wine list: 8/10
Ormeggio at the Spit
D’Albora Marinas, The Spit, Mosman, Sydney 2088