I love Italian food so naturally Pendolino has been on my wish list for a while.

The restaurant is located on the second floor of Sydney’s iconic late Victorian style Strand Arcade.

In the dim lighting we walk past the open kitchen, smelling the truffle oil, cheese and tomatoes simmering with garlic and wine. With several warm “Ciao”, “Ciao bella” greetings from the wait staff we settle in feeling welcomed and quite at home.

Head chef and owner Nino Zoccali specialises in regional inspired Italian cuisine showcasing some of the best produce from Australia and Italy. He is obviously a lover of olive oil as there’s an olive oil store on site with shelves and shelves of the finest bottles from Australia and Italy.

A basket of house made bread on the table is accompanied by different flavoured olive oils and the menu lists the oil used for each dish.

For entrees we share some fresh oysters as well as Mooloolaba  albacore white tuna and salmon tartare with house made flat bread, cucumber and a fresh red onion salad with garum dressing.

We also try the Alba style free-range beef carpaccio with truffled white walnut puree, testun de Barola cheese, rocket cress and crisp buckwheat – some of the best beef carpaccio I have tasted.

The beetroot salad with burrata, fresh mint, beetroot jelly, crisp breadcrumbs, pendolino vinegar and King Island Ligurian honey dressing is a simple salad that champions the high quality of the produce used.

For a main I can’t  go past the handmade sweet pea leaf lasagne at the top of the menu, with sweet pea puree, cows milk ricotta, ameretti, pistachio and organic Gorgonzola – Bellissimo!

I do however get a little food envy from my boss’ fresh made pappardelle with wild mushroom sauce, truffled organic egg yolk and porcini salt. It smells  and tastes divine!

The amalfi style handmade ricotta gnocchi with veal and tomato ragu and butternut pumpkin risotto with zucchini flower, fresh borlotti, deliziosa and tuscan cheese also look delicious.

The main pasta serves are  more of an authentic Italian style than the modern entre dishes we tried – the pasta plates are generous portions and have been made with love. With mains around $40 a serve Pendolino is not cheap but the quality produce and Italian way of respecting the ingredients makes it so worthwhile.

For dessert we choose one of each flavour of gelato – more than enough for 4 to share!

As its my birthday lunch I also indulge in a classic chocolate eclaire with dark chocolate mousse, ameretto cream, toasted almonds, candied apricots and Ameretto Syryp.

By this time I have reached a happy and satisfied state of Abbiocco; the drowsiness that follows eating a big meal.

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