I was lucky enough to get invited along to Australia's magazine publisher ACP for the launch party for the Recipes + magazine at Ladro's second restaurant in Melbourne.
I am a big fan of the original Ladro restaurant on Gertrude St and was looking forward to trying the new one. The vibe of the Prahran venue is actually quite similar to Gertrude St's. The same wood oven at the entrance as a feature of the partially open kitchen, same tile wall with the hand written menu, same style of lighting. I felt quite at home from the moment I walked through the door.
Tonight's dinner was a showcase of Ladro's Italian kitchen: not only pizzas, but also delicious antipasti, pasta, goat meat and desserts.
I don't have pictures of everything; there were so many courses. And unfortunately, as this was a last minute invitation for me (I attended as one of the guest's partner) all pictures were taken with my mobile phone - blackberry camera is not the best, but better than nothing, I guess...
- Prosciutto, pancetta, lardo
- Pickled cauliflower with caramelised shallots
- Artichoke and tallegio stuffed olives
- Polpette di Melanzanne
- Pan seared calamari with pangrattato
The calamari was perfectly cooked and very tender. Pangrattato - or Italian bread crumbs - were really crispy and tasty. I'm guessing they were baked with a little bit of cheese (maybe parmesan?) very good, fresh dish.
The Melanzanne was the highlight of the entrees for me. I absolutely loved the crumbled eggplant parcels. The crispy crust topped a silky, sweet eggplant filling. Perfect.
- Potato - mozzarella, taleggio, potato, rosemary, truffle oil, basil
- Gamberi e piselli - tomato, prawn, pea, chilli, basil
- Punttanesca - tomato, mozzarella, parmigiano, cherry tomatoes, anchovies, capers, fresh chilli, black olives, basil
- Prosciutto - tomato, mozzarella, parmigiano, prosciutto
At first glance, I thought the combination of peas and pizza did not - could not - work. To my surprise, this pizza actually tasted really good. The peas went well with the tomato base, chilli and prawns. I would go as far as recommending ordering this pizza when you visit Ladro. It's definitely something out of the box and worth trying.
Punttanesca - tomato, mozzarella, parmigiano, cherry tomatoes, anchovies, capers, fresh chili, black olives, basil
Puntanesca is always a winner for me. Nothing beats this combination of all things salty: anchovies, capers, parmigiano and olives. The only thing my palate would be able to recognize (and appreciate) after that was the prosciutto pizza.
Interestingly enough, they saved the simplest, most basic pizza for last. Prosciutto pizza was very good and I guess the best showcase of Ladro's beautiful pizza bases and quality ingredients.
- Capretto in bianco with celeriac puree, sauteed silverbeet and pangrattato
- Orecchitte with broccoli, cauliflower and gorgonzola
The goat stew with silverbeet simply delicious, something that I would like to have at home again and again. I felt at nonna's house having Sunday dinner. Really flavoursome, tender meat with crisp, fresh vegetables. Simple, elegant, warming.
Pasta was also very good but again a strange, unexpected combination. I've never had cauliflower with pasta before, specially not combined with gorgonzola. The dish did work quite well though. Gorgonzola is quite strong and a cheese that I don't use loads of, but it actually complemented the broccoli and cauliflower well here.
- Panna cotta wioth flourless orange cake and frangelico syrup
- Bombolini - Italian doughnuts with vanilla ice cream and blood orange syrup
Last, but not least desserts! I was so full by the time we got to desserts that I didn't even manage to try it all. The pannacotta was really good and creamy. The flourless orange cake was delicious and very light; my favourite.
I didn't get to try the doughnuts - not really a fan. Tried a bit of the ice-cream with blood orange syrup and thought it was a bit too sweet for my taste.
Dinner at Ladro was a great Italian feast. Big thanks to Ladro and ACP!