Dining with Pavoni: John Rozentals reviews Sotto Sopra

For your sweet tooth … a mango tart straight out of Sotto Sopra’s wood-fired oven.
For your sweet tooth … a mango tart straight out of Sotto Sopra’s wood-fired oven.

My palate had been aflutter ever since I found out that a Newport, Sydney, restaurant I was going to be dining at was the creation of Alessandro Pavoni, the head chef at Mosman’s Ormeggio.

I haven’t eaten at Ormeggio for quite a few years, but I still have fond memories of the magnificent six- or seven-course lunch I thoroughly enjoyed there — featuring delightful dishes such as pan-fried Spanish mackerel served with king brown mushrooms, an incredibly powerful prawn broth and chickpea purée.

Sotto Sopra’s restaurant manager Gianmarco Giovi … an expert in Italian wines.

Sotto Sopra’s restaurant manager Gianmarco Giovi … an expert in Italian wines.

Alessandro’s stated aim in those days was to bring to Australia the best and most modern features of the cuisine of his birthplace — Brescia, nestled among the lakes on northern Italy’s Lombardy.

His latest venture, Sotto Sopra, a wood-fired trattoria in Newport’s Barrenjoey Road, is much more relaxed than Ormeggio, but none of the fire seems to have disappeared in the quest for culinary excellence led by Mattia Rossi and Victor Moya.

A formidable line-up of culinary talent … from left, Victor Moya, Alessandro Pavoni and Mattia Rossi.

A formidable line-up of culinary talent … from left, Victor Moya, Alessandro Pavoni and Mattia Rossi.

The wine list is unashamedly Italian and features many, many wines by the glass. I sometimes lost myself in a plethora of unusual names and varieties but found my way clear with the help of knowledgeable staff.

And, yes, the food is sensational, especially a superb dish of goat-curd-filled beetroot ravioli served with green peas, pine nuts, chervil and just the best and sharpest pecorino cheese.

A dish of eggplant says it all about Sotto Sopra … simplicity and elegance.

A dish of eggplant says it all about Sotto Sopra … simplicity and elegance.

It was a dish I wished I’d had the will power to linger over for much longer, and beautifully accompanied by a glass of Donnafugato ‘La Fuga’ Chardonnay from Sicily, in what turned out to be a heavenly match.

And certainly the highlight of a memorable meal that will remain with me for many years, hopefully till the next time I cross paths with some more creations from Alessandro Pavoni and his formidable team.

IF YOU GO

Sotto Sopra, 316-324 Barrenjoey Rd, Newport. Phone 02 9997 7009 or visit www.sottosopra.com.au