With so many Italian restaurants around, it can be difficult to differentiate what sets one apart from the other. At the newly opened Farina 00 Pasta and Wine Bar, it’s all about creating high quality gourmet Italian dishes using the best produce available. In Italy, flour is graded by colour and can range from “00” to “04”. The “00” flour is the best money can buy and is used at the restaurant to make pasta fresh daily. Owner and Head Chef, Lewis Marro, only serves up dishes that he has perfected, and let’s all the natural flavours in the dishes do the talking.
We started off with the Fior di Zucchini, which is simply Zucchini Flowers. The zucchini flowers were battered and fried to a light golden brown. Inside was a soft, delicate ricotta with a distinct tartness from the lemon zest. It was delicious and a great way to start off proceedings.
Next was the Arancini di Agnello, which translates to Lamb Arancini. Coming in a serve of two, the arancini were generously sized and sat in a pool of pea puree. The arancini had a firm, crispy coating and were fried to a dark golden brown. Inside was a large morsel of braised lamb that was well seasoned, tender and succulent. This was surrounded by soft and flavoursome grains of rice held together by gooey chevre cheese. Exceptional by itself, but together with the pea puree, the arancini is taken to the next level.
A classic on any Italian menu is the Beef Carpaccio. The thinly sliced Coorong Angus Beef had a smooth and silky texture. As with all carpaccio, it’s the seasoning that makes the dish. The contrasting flavours of the garlic aioli, the sourness of the capers and the sharpness of the parmigiano reggiano, all work together in harmony to create a dish that is totally delicious.
At Farina 00, pasta is their specialty and it was time to see what all the fuss was about. We started with the Rigatoni that had pork, fennel and a home made tomato sauce. The pasta was firm and perfectly cooked, and what looked to be chunks of pork sausage, was well seasoned. The tomato sauce added a lovely red colour to the dish but its taste was a tad overpowered by the fennel.
The Spaghetti Al Nero is a black squid ink style aglio olio with fresh local seafood, tomatoes and chilli. Distinguished by the long black strands of firm spaghetti, it’s the other elements that make this dish exciting. Generously served with mussels, clams and fish, you can taste the flavours of the ocean. The tomatoes add a subtle sweetness which brings all the elements together.
The last of the mains was the Pappardelle with slow braised rabbit, hazelnuts and marjoram. The rabbit is slow cooked whole and the meat is prized off the bone. The rabbit was so soft and delicate it had the same texture as tuna. The inclusion of marjoram gave the dish a sweet pine and citrus flavour, while the hazelnuts added a much needed crunchy texture.
Time for dessert, and we start off with Bailey’s Zabaglione with vanilla cream, ground coffee and dark chocolate shards. Zabaglione is a light custard traditionally made from egg yolks, sugar and a sweet wine, but in this case, the wine has been substituted with Baileys Irish Cream. The custard is smooth and creamy, and the alcoholic content is prominent. The bitterness of the ground coffee is complemented by the dark chocolate, and the vanilla cream does well in neutralising the sweetness of the dessert.
Topping it all off was the Nutella Semifreddo with Haigh’s hazelnuts. The semifreddo was subtle in sweetness and had the texture of frozen mousse. The inclusion of hazelnut pieces added a crunchy texture to a dessert that would have otherwise been smooth and creamy. The generous spoonful of Nutella added an exciting burst of sweetness, and the combination of semifreddo and Nutella would be best described as “heavenly”.
Farina 00 is exceptional because the menu is not over complicated, the dishes have been thought out carefully, and were well executed. I was also impressed by the service with staff having intimate knowledge of everything on offer. The dining space is casual at the front with more intimate surrounds at the rear. The decor is a good combination of modern and authentic, and the playing of easy listening pop music in the background creates a casual and relaxed setting. We really liked this place a lot and looking forward to coming back often.
Farina 00 is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am till late.
WHERE: 128 King William Rd, Hyde Park