Bianca: I saw the relatively swift development of SUD from an eerily quiet local pizzeria to a bustling restaurant that regularly turns people away they get so busy. Sud happens to fall smack bam on my usual walking route from Concord to Breakfast point on the weekends – you can’t eat all those burgers and get away with it.
Meaning ‘south’ in Italian it also happens to be where my dad’s family hail from back in the mother country, Messina in Sicily to be exact. It’s meant to be a more casual laid back affair with an emphasis on Southern style ‘street food’ which is vastly different than owner, Paolo Gatto’s former venture, ‘Gatto Matto’ in Five Dock.
Breaking my rule to never eat Italian out, I just had to see what all the fuss was about. We then turned it into an all-out family affair with the entire FFS team: Alex and Vanessa as well as my older brother John, Vanessa’s sister Bec (my cousin) and her partner Michael.
This was in fact the second time we had tried to eat at SUD but were previously turned away because they were so busy, we learnt our lesson this time and made a reservation…or so we thought. My experiences at Italian restaurants – no-one seems to be in any great rush. Despite a reservation, our table would not be ready for half an hour. It was pushing 8pm so we were all slightly annoyed, hunger will do that to you. It is loud and cramped in there, the front portion of the dining room in particular is very very snug (great if you want to make some new friends).
Our first entrée was the ‘Verdura Cu Pani’ – lightly pan-fried wild greens of the day with bread croutons, garlic, sausage and chilli. A beautifully rustic salad ‘style’ dish made with kale, I’ve always been a bit funny with Italian sausages as I don’t enjoy the fatty gristly texture. Which was not the case here, a really generous and flavourful side salad to accompany pizza’s and pasta.
We also shared the ‘Panzerotti Fritti’ – Mini fried calzone filled with mozzarella & ham $12. A generous and ample portion that was easily shared between the six of us. Pizza in itself is great but then frying it, genius. Now, I don’t know if anyone remembers but back in the day KFC used to do this wickedly awesome concoction of a ham and cheese stuffed chicken breast. It was only available for like a month, because clearly I was the only one eating it in Australia but the Panzerotti instantly gave me flashbacks. I would have liked a little more filling as it was 80-90% dough so in that sense it was a let-down but it was tasty.
Carbohydrates seemed to be the order of the day, with the ‘Siciliana’ –Fiordilatte mozzarella, potatoes, sausage and rosemary $21. The pizzas at SUD are more Roman than Neapolitan, meaning they’re cooked till crispy with none of that soupy action going on. I’m a fan of both. Older brother John, was particularly blown away by this pizza – the combination of potato and sausage worked well.
Also making an appearance was the ‘Capricciosa’ – tomato, Fiordilatte mozzarella, ham, olives, mushrooms, boiled egg, peas $23. We got this one sans egg and peas?? Umm, we won’t even ask. Definitely an interesting combination that’s for sure. Again – the dough was the star here.
I tend to gravitate towards calzones over pizza and thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Rosso’ – Fresh Roma tomatoes, Nduja chili paste, Fiordilatte mozzarella, salami and onion $23. I didn’t get a strong kick from the chilli, but there was a great ratio between filling and dough. Definitely some tasty pizzas being made at SUD. Excuse the shonky photo, this is not ”Alex’ approved.
Alex was the only one that swayed from the pizza menu – with the ‘Cannelloni Bambino’ – Homemade rolled pasta filled with spinach & ricotta & topped with fresh passata $18. I’ll admit this was a pleasant surprise, as well as my no Italian restaurant rule, ordering pasta is the cardinal sin in my books. NOTHING compares to my nonno and nonna’s. It’s primarily the sauce that elevates their humble pasta dishes to something out of this world. The cannelloni happens to be one of my favourites as well. The pasta was al dente which is sometimes hard with this tube like pasta. The tomato passata was full-flavoured and had that rich, thick texture that you get when you slow cook tomato sugo over several hours.
And of course no meal can end without something sweet, we couldn’t go past the ‘Cuzzoli’ – Italian doughnuts, topped with icing sugar, cinnamon and served with Nutella $20. Resembling a churro these were beautifully crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Again, a generous portion for the price, the six of us struggled to finish the serving which is suggested to feed 4. Our attempts to feel good about that fact went by the wayside when we later ate them at midnight with more Nutella. Sad times.
A few weeks after our visit to SUD we were invited to check out Paolo’s cooking demonstration at Casa Barilla in Annandale. Alongside executive chef Andrea Tranchero, Paolo created two dishes, a vegetarian ‘meatball’ made with eggplant (genius) and a pasta dish with a capsicum sugo. Despite the tongue tingly sensation, eggplant happens to be one of my favourite….you think I’m going to say vegetable don’t you? Fruits!!! Who knew. A cheaper and effective meat replacement, these eggplant ‘meatballs’ would make a delicious accompaniment to a pasta dish or by themselves served with a slice of thick Italian bread.
2 large eggplants
100g grated Parmesan
1 bunch basil
1/2 bunch parsley
500g bread crumb
100 g flour 00
200ml extra virgin olive oil
1/2 head of garlic
2 slices sourdough bread, Barilla tomato sauce
Barilla Pesto, spread on sliced bread
- Pre-heat oven to 170c
- Lightly smoke eggplant directly on gas burner
- Extract pulp
- Add egg, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and bread crumbs, mix
- Shallow fry meatballs
- Lightly sauté Barilla tomato sauce w/ garlic and herbs
- Add eggplant meatballs to tomato sauce and place in the oven
- Serve in terracotta dish
- Add a slice of toast and Barilla pesto and serve
Photos by Alex
*For Food’s Sake attended the Casa Barilla cooking demo thanks to Paolo Gatto and Casa Barilla. SUD was an independently paid visit.
Photos will be used for The Urban List – http://www.theurbanlist.com/sydney