Porcorosso is a great new Italian place with a quirky Japanese bent and not a whole lot of fuss. You’ll find no red-and-white checkered tablecloths here. No tablecloths at all, in fact. It would all look a little harsh –what with the polished concrete floors and bare tables – if it wasn't for the giant, unmistakably Italian bags of semolina flour that lie slumped in neat piles against a far wall.
The menu offers up a range of Italy’s finest exports: antipasti of grissini and prosciutto, a caprese salad and olives to snack on to get you in the eating mood. There’s a rocket and Parmesan salad, just as you’d expect, and just when you thought you were safe, boom – a seaweed and tofu salad, the first sign of a not-so-slight Japanese influence here.
The second hint is over the page: on the left, seven pizze are numbered in Italian, on the right, six house-made pastas numbered in Japanese. There’s no seaweed on the pizza (phew) but mentaiko (chili-marinated cod roe) finds its way into spaghettini with nori, fresh basil and lemon zest. The number Ichi, spaghetti alla chitarra (pasta cut on a guitar-like tool), is a wonderful representation of carbonara, with organic egg, pancetta, pecorino and black pepper. A boon for a dish that can go so wrong, so easily.
The pizze, however, stay true to their origin with light and chewy crusts. The Otto is topped with soft Italian sausage, mozzarella, slippery wild mushrooms and torn pieces of dark-purple bitter radicchio, a combination we’ll be going to back for again and again. The Uno is laid with prosciutto sliced so thin that it absolutely melts as you bite into it, plus cherry tomatoes and a green pile of fresh peppery rocket.
Porcorosso is BYO, but if you’re just after a glass you can order a house white, red or rosé from a brilliant organic producer in Puglia, Italy, for only $7.50 a glass. Boom! Smash! Score! At that price you can afford a slice of apricot crostata from the display case for dessert, or maybe a green-tea macaron if you’re venturing back down the Japanese path. Either way you swing, it’s a winner.