Time Out says
Alessandro Pavoni started Sydney's modern Italian trend, and now he wants to scale it right back to old-world grandeur
Alessandro Pavoni was one of the avant-garde in Sydney's modern Italian scene, but he's scaled it right back to old-world grandeur. Known for his corralling of inventive seafood and gorgeous views together over at Ormeggio at the Spit and Chiosco by Ormeggio, Pavoni is now rubbing together the wood of A’Mare in order to send sparks flying.
His dream: to bring the gold-brocaded opulence of Italian fine dining to Sydney. Trattoria-style dining has overwhelmed the Sydney Italian food scene, he says, and he’s looking to take it back to the grand old days.
“Have you ever been to Lake Garda?” he asks. The answer is not important. “There are all these palaces by the lake, and these restaurants – it’s the floors, the furniture, the food, the service – it’s all amazing. But you still have this feeling of being in a family. I remembered that feeling of fine dining, and it was a dream of mine to bring those memories of my childhood back to Australia.”
A night at A’Mare, meaning 'at sea' in Italian, means simple dishes in a decidedly extravagant venue: lush green velvet chairs are dotted around the large open space, which gazes out over the harbour with the peaks of the Blue Mountains hazy on the horizon. Pavoni’s menu focuses on regional Italian cuisine – from places as far-flung as Sardinia, Lombardy, Puglia and Rome – and fresh, hearty seafood occupies the prime slots on his menu.
“It’s bringing authentic Italian dishes back to the table, cooked as they should be," says Pavoni. "Dishes like veal tonnato, carpaccio, bolognese, all the things I never did at Ormeggio.” Bolognese, it should be pointed out, that takes 16 hours to make.
In his bid to bring recognisable, “real” food back to fine dining, Pavoni has lost a little of his patience for the finicky, Instagram-ready plating that’s holding menus around the city hostage in its pretty, delicate grip.
“I’ll be honest. I worked many years perfecting the details, putting flowers on things, using my little tongs… and now, I’ve gone away from there. The food is just going to be simply presented.”
He sighs, like the thought of picking another edible garnish off his pasta would just about finish him. “I want to go back to 30 years ago. I’m tired of eating that kind of food, and I’m tired of making it.”
Pavoni is hoping to make use of guéridon, or trolley service – of finishing food at the table. While in modern Australian dining, the waiter has become primarily a vehicle to transport food from chef to customer, at A’Mare waitstaff take a more active role in the creation of the culinary experience, blurring the boundaries between the maker and the consumer. Liquid-hearted burrata will be opened and finished beside you, dark chocolate tendrils will be shaved on your dessert, and the smell of basil and pine nuts being crushed for fresh pesto will find its way to you before the pasta dish makes its way to your table.