Italy Wrap-up


Hotel Armani, Milano

And 3 weeks of travel can pass you by in an instant. Throughout my life, I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel overseas at least once a year, sometimes several times. This trip was fantastic because my parents are to me not only my family, but my mentors, bosses, and a real inspiration that I continue to benchmark life in general through every single day. So the opportunity to go overseas with them together hasn’t happened in many years and in it I created memories which will live with me forever.

Myself, mum and dad outside the Bellagio in Las Vegas

We saw some pretty amazing places in such a short time. In just 3 weeks we covered Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Los Cabos Mexico, Dallas, Rome, Milan, Parma and finally Alba, Piemonte. As I have covered many places I visited in the Americas (The good ones, anyway) I thought I would use this post to share my photo stream of the final Italian leg of the journey. It must be said though that the Italian fare in the USA has to be up there in terms of what I have eaten. We are certainly blessed in Melbourne with the amount of multiculturalism that allows us to enjoy many international meals, but I was simply blown away at the calibre of meals we had whilst  touring.

Salumeria inside Cibus 2012, Parma

In Northern Italy this time however, whilst many of my meals were amazing it was tarnished somewhat by meals that were so ordinary it made me question how businesses thousands of miles away could be producing better results, and what honestly the chefs were thinking. And we are talking Michelin famed restaurants such as Savini in Milano that rates amongst one of the worst experiences in my life. However, I hung out with some great people:

Mother, Father, Myself, and Massimo Benevelli in the Elio Grasso cantina

Saw some interesting places:

Slow Food school in Pollenza

And ate some great meals. Here are the highlights:

Ristorante Sorra Lella, Roma:

Gnocchi all’amatriciana at Sorra Lella

Sniped this one out of the Michelin guide for Roma. One of the best, reasonably priced meals I have had in the minefield that is Roma. This one sits on the Isole Tiberina, about a 45 minute walk from the Spanish Steps.

Ristorante Piazza Repubblica, Milano:

Cotoletta alla Milanese at Ristorante Piazza Repubblica

Ate here a couple of years ago when I toured with my brother Anthony and was stranded due to the Volcano eruption. Had forgotten the name (Really tried to remember it too) but chanced upon it anyway. What a meal. The Cotoletta and Risotto alla Milanese are amongst the best in the city.

Trattoria Corrieri, Parma:

Tratorria Corrieri in Parma

This one came to me recommended. Was amazed at the sheer volume of pasta they were producing, even so late in the night. It was packed full of locals enjoying a simple pasta and a plate full of salumi. Simple is the operative word here. Yes, I enjoyed my meal and yes, it was very affordable (Around 6 euro a plate) – I wouldn’t call it mind-blowing but for a quick and easy pasta fix of the Parmigiana type it is one to visit.

Ristorante da Guido, Pollenza Piemonte

Ristorante da Guido, Pollenza

Ristorante da Guido, Pollenza

Tortelli con Barbera d’Alba

Capretto was my theme of Piemonte

Tiramisu is my dessert-favourite. This one was all class.

About a 15 minute drive from Alba, Guido was on my radar for a while, so we wasted no time dining here on our first night in Alba. We were lucky enough to be treated by our good friends and Barolo producers in Italy the Benevelli’s. They are among the loveliest people we have had the privilege of dealing with; real friends before business associates. The meal here was nothing short of breathtaking, and the wine cellar is one of the best your likely to see in Italy. There is so much selection and the wines are actually stored correctly unlike many restaurants in the country.

La Libera, Alba

’88 Cappellano Barolo at La Libera

Tortelli at La Libera

More Tiramisu at La Libera

La Libera sits nestled in the heart of Alba. Its a must-visit if you’re in town as the quality of food is consistent and excellent. Reserve well ahead as it is generally packed especially towards the tail-end of the week.

La Ciau del Tornavento, Treiso (CN):

The view from the balcony at La Ciau del Tornavento

Signature Tortelli on a birds nest at La Ciau del Tornavento

One of the highlight meals of the trip. This was a surprise visit; we were  taken there by another good friend Fabio Saracco whose moscato is regarded as one of the World’s best. As it was rather impromptu, not only were we under-dressed but also ill-prepared. I forgot my camera and regrettably couldn’t quite  capture  the essence of eating a top class meal on the edge of a hill at some of the highest altitudes in the area, deep in Nebbiolo country. Go here for lunch and bring a camera.

Per Bacco, La Morra:

Per Bacco features a wood oven and an authentic certified Pizzaiolo Napoletano

Pizza con Burrata Fresca at Per Bacco

Per Bacco came highly recommended after I asked Denise Benevelli where the best pizza is in all of Piemonte. A stroke of luck saw Jane Faulkner staying not 2 minutes away so we made a rather special occasion out of it for our last night in Italy. Special guests also included our Dolcetto producers Bruno and Irma Porro. I don’t always throw this around: But Per Bacco rates in my top 10 EVER pizzas; and let me tell you this; I reckon I’ve eaten tens of thousands in my time. Go to Piemonte, go to La Morra, and drink Barolo and eat authentic Napoli pizza until you explode.

Until next time folks.


Lucia, Dallas TX

Finding true…

Authentic pasta in the USA might not seem like an overly difficult task, but in Texas of all places you might be in for a challenge. Dallas more so because it’s what i’d consider the Adelaide of Australia (With Austin/Houstin being Melbourne/Sydney) in terms of being a lot less built up. For you see; Texas-fare is steak – as you’d expect for a state with more cowboys-per-capita than anywhere else on Earth. Weary of this, I went to Twitter and Texas local Alfonso Cevola kindly gave me some suggestions on where to eat: Lucia was on that list.

Needless to say we made our reservations (proprietor Jennifer was kind enough to take our reservation over email and pass onto our hotel) for our final night and made the trek over to Oak Cliff. On that note, if you do Taxi there make sure you bring a map – Of the two taxis we took there (The first we made bring us back to our hotel after it was clear he was the brainchild of Stevie Wonder and Andrea Bocelli) neither had any idea where ‘West Eighth Street’ was. Nevertheless, Jennifer kindly understood our delay, welcomed us and we sat down to enjoy.

I didn’t take enough notes for a proper review (Was still a little peeved at the taxi service), but nevertheless this was to me a very fond experience and we sat down to a great meal and even better service. It’s probably unlikely you’ll ever be in Dallas (short of DFW); but if you are and pasta is on the agenda, try and be lucky enough to snag a reservation at Lucia.

Champagne Aubry

Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Budeletti with pancetta and dandelions

Potato gnocchi with arugula pecan pesto and pecorino

Lamb chops and sweetbreads with ceci, swiss chard and mint salsa verde

The Ceci

Pistachio and ricotta cannoli with whipped lemon curd and rhubarb

Bomboloni with chocolate budino, banana puree, hazelnuts and coffee

Toasted polenta cake with crème fraiche sorbetto, Texas blueberries & lemon balm

408 West Eighth St, Suite 101, Oak Cliff, Dallas TX, USA 
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