There are just so many things that fascinate me about that great love of my life, Italy. Each of Italy’s twenty regions are so distinct in terms of their flavours, dialect and traditions, it’s no wonder that the regional rivalries are often quite pronounced!
The Buffalo Dining Club opened earlier this year in Darlinghurst, a veritable celebration of all things Campania. Home to crazy Naples and the best pizza in the world, the exquisite Amalfi Coast and beautiful Capri, buffalo mozzarella, insalata Caprese and cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) pasta, Campania is surely one of the more ‘blessed’ regions of la bella paese – just don’t tell my Sicilian nonni that I said that.
Deciding where to dine with my girlfriends on Thursday, two things sealed my vote for Buffalo Dining Club: the buffalo mozzarella is religiously shipped in from Italy on a weekly basis; and the legendary cacio e pepe pasta is served a tavalo in a giant wheel of parmesan cheese. What’s not to love?!
We arrive in Darlinghurst at 7pm and score a table immediately. The restaurant is cosy and atmospheric, the dishes are scrawled across a blackboard and I love the wines on display:
We order a bottle of Catena Malbec and then turn our attention to the cheese, of which there are three varieties: Caprino, Burrata, and Buffalo Mozzarella. Our friendly waiter advises that we can choose two sides with each cheese, so we leave it in his hands to put together a tasting plate for us. (You’ll have to excuse my food photography, our girls evening was crashed by two hungry boys and time was of the essence!)
The Caprino is made of raw goat’s milk and has a tangy taste. The Buffalo Mozzarella reminds me of insalata caprese lunches with my parents in Amalfi, but the Burrata is my favourite (translated as “buttered” in Italian) with it’s mozzarella shell and creamy centre. Anytime I hear that insidious adjective ‘amazeballs’, I think of Burrata cheese.
Our tasting plates are each served with a selection of bread/breadsticks and two side dishes. We try the Potato Croquettes, pumpkin salad, roasted peppers, grilled broccolini, braised lentils and roasted tomato.
We also order some San Daniele prosciutto ($13, 90g) and Jamon Iberico ($15, 90g) which both arrive at the table on Italian butcher’s paper. Both are melt-in-mouth delicious and of excellent quality.
As the tasting plates disappear before our eyes, it’s time for the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the Cacio e Pepe pasta, served in the requisite giant parmesan wheel, is delivered to our table. The waiter obliges my photo request and I can tell he is probably asked the same question every night. He tells us that Buffalo Dining Club has served 1 TONNE of mozzarella in it’s first six months!
This dish is so typically Italian, in that it is simple, delicious and uses very few, good quality ingredients. There are chunks of parmesan cheese throughout the pasta, with parsley and decent amount of cracked black pepper.
I’m more than a little heartbroken when my friends turn down both the Buffalo Ricotta Gnocchi and dessert – but I guess that gives me even more reason to return.
Buffalo Dining Club
116 Surrey Street
(02) 9332 4052
Open Wednesday – Saturday