Puntino, Woolloomooloo

Panuozzo caprese – homemade mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil & evoo

DISCLAIMER: Trish dined as guest at Puntino Trattoria for a spring time woodfired menu. Thanks to George of Wasamedia and Puntino Trattoria for the warm  hospitality.

There is pizza, and there is woodfired pizza.

I’m no pizza expert, or Italian food for that matter, but I reckon I can recognise something wonderfully, insanely awesome spread every now and then. Such was the case with the woodfired feast hosted by Puntino Trattoria at Woolloomooloo (I can never spell that properly) and George from Wasamedia.

You cannot walk through the restaurant without noticing the big wood fire oven on your right, with Puntino’s Antonio “Tony” Saba and his team lovingly working on those pizzas, carefully kneading the dough, expertly selecting the  ingredients & effortlessly serving the dishes to hungry foodbloggers (uhm, yes, us!).

Tony!
The wood-fired oven

We were immediately served with the select wines for the night, and I went straight for the red wine. No designated driver here, just a mere train-taker. Hurrah!

The first of many cheese entrees on offer. We are, after all, at an Italian place and cheese is never far away.

Is it wrong to say that the first dish was already heaven? If you combine smoked cheese & bread AND truffles, you really, truly get heaven on a plate!

Cacio di cavallo – smoked provolone baked in the woodfired oven served with shaved black truffles

The cheese was toasted to woodfired goodness, all gooey and stringy with that instant earthy truffle hit. It was love at first bite!

The bread of this calzone was so well made, it was both chewy but soft with two types of cheeses inside laced with garlic.

Calzone ai formaggi – Wood fired pizza folded over with mozzarella, parmesan and garlic

The secret to Puntino’s pastas and pizza dough is the expert combination of both Tony’s and his mum’s family recipe. Everything is made in house, and this is seen more so in this potato gnocchi dish where all the praise, all the glory of  pasta making all boils down to  one thing: the potato gnocchi. It is both light and rich, both chewy and soft, both tasty on it’s own and absolutely fantastic with the light napolitana sauce.

Gnocchi sorrentino – Potato gnocchi cooked in a light napolitana sauce served with slices of buffalo mozzarella,and basil

There were also some tasteful, light dishes on offer to balance the carbohydrates and all that cheese.

When I walked in the restaurant, the first thing that I saw was the selection of mushrooms on the kitchen counter.

All that wooden, earthy, mushroom goodness. I filed a mental note to ask later if we were going to have a dish with those fresh little fungi, but I did not have to wait long. Introducing, one of THE BEST mushroom dishes I’ve ever come across. And it is surprisingly simple, yet spectacularly delicious:

Funghi misti al forno – Medley of seasonal mushroom baked in the wood-fired oven with dads fresh herbs and olive oil for two

Funghi misi al forno – a simple dish of seasonal mushrooms, with Tony’s dad’s fresh herbs (I could see rosemary there) and olive oil, grilled to perfection in the wood-fired oven. And that’s it! How simple and yet remarkable this dish is truly encapsulates the magnificence of Italian cooking.

The flash fried calamari in lemon & garlic need not be introduced. It was a refreshing, light dish that could pass off as a main meal, if you’re looking after your waistline.

Calamari in padella – Calamari flash cooked in pan marinated in lemon and garlic, served with onion capsicum relish

What is an Italian feast without some sort of antipasti plate? And yet, this is not just any ordinary antipasti plate. It’s a “Mozarella Degustation Platter”, complete with:

1. Three different mozarellas: a delicate bufala classica,  naturally smoked bufala affumicata & deliciously creamay burrata.
2. Variety of different salts to season EVERYTHING.
3. Selezion di salumi – a selection of cold meats, including prosciutto crudo, prosciutto cotto alla brace and mortadella di quattro stelle.
4. The egg omelette centre & packed full of flavour pestos – mixed zucchini, potatoes, onion, tomato and egg in terra cotta with pesto di basilico, pesto di pomodori secchi basil pesto, sundried tomato pesto.
5.  Caprese classica tomato, mozzarella di bufala and fresh basil.

Mozzarella Degustazione Platter

It was at this point that we thought, right, we are stuffed to the brim with all these carbo, cheesy goodness and we’re ready for the macchiatos and head home.

But wait…

Something’s not right…

What else is there to eat?

PIZZA!!!!!

Three choices were laid infront of us, tempting us to make room, even just a little bit, for these scrumptious pizzas.

Mr Potato Head – for the lover of carbs over carbs. Top with a simple scattering of rosemary and indulge yourself with some truffle oil.

Mr Potato Head – mozzarella, potato, truffle oil, grano padano and
rosemary

Lunch menu: panuozzo’s are sandwiches made using wood-fired pizza dough, filled with mozarella, tomatoes, fresh basil and if this is not enough, a selection of other fillings (see the lunch menu: http://www.puntino.com.au/downloads/puntino_lunch_menu.pdf).

Oh, and I learned a new term! EVOO – extra virgin olive oil.

Panuozzo caprese – homemade mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil & evoo

The F1: 2 meats, 2 cheeses & the quinessential Italian tomato & basil toppings. CLASSIC!

The F1 – tomato, buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, ham. salami,
vito’s basil and evoo

How else to balance all of this out than with a wonderful cup of cappuccino and, what else but a wood-fired slice of cheesecake, ricota cheese and strawberries.

Wood-fired slice of cheesecake, ricota cheese and strawberries

Thank you again to Tony from Puntino and George from Wasamedia.

Puntino Trattoria

41 Crown St, Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
P (02) 9331 8566
F (02) 9331 6449

http://www.puntino.com.au/

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Bay Tinh, Crows Nest

DISCLAIMER: Trish & Mr J dined as guests of Bay Tinh. Thanks to Krissie from Wasamedia and Harry of Bay Tinh for the kind hospitality. Trish’s sister in law’s meal was a paid meal.

When someone mentions Lower North Shore to me, I always think of one thing: Japanese food. Perhaps it’s the abundance of Japanese restaurants in the area, but I’ve been treated with some really good Japanese food there that I cannot really complain. So when Krissie from Wasamedia sent through an invitation to try out the new Bay Tinh Vietnamese Restaurant in Crows Nest (a branch out from the Bay Tinh in Marrickville), I was curious to check out the area and ecstatic that I would get to visit the other side of the Bridge.

It was a Sunday evening, and we decided to take my sister in law out as she lives locally and wanted to try out the other food spots in the area. We were first greeted by the friendly owner, Harry, who was all smiles from ear to ear as he hopped around from one table to another, clearly engaged with providing service to his customers.

We asked his expert opinion on what he thinks we should order, and he graciously recommended a few dishes and pretty much custom-made our menu for the night. Harry explained that Bay Tinh offers a fusion of Vietnamese/French cuisine, with apparently the menu adapted from what was offered to the royal family years ago. This was intriguing, as we were going to feast on a dinner fit for a royal family!

First up were the cocktails, of course.

Chin Chin

I’m no fan of rosewater, but this drink was surprisingly subtle in rosewater and has that refreshing, almost aromatic lychee flavour. Suffice it to say I actually enjoyed this drink!

Vietnamese lotus is a wicked concoction of passionfruit and that hit of alcohol… ohyes!

Entree

We wanted Harry to recommend dishes on the menu that will give us that “Vietnamese/French” fusion, so we let him pick the dishes for us. We started off with two sets of Tasting Platters:

Crispy Pancake – Banh Xeo

Layers of crispy, softness, crunchy and oh so tasty moreish tiny pancakes, dipped in fish sauce and that familiar Vietnamese salad & pickled vegetables.

Beef salad – Bo Bop Thau

A tasty dish of tender beef strips and green apple salad with the ever so present prawn crackers.

Grilled Pork Skewer – Heo Nuong

One of the best dishes of the night – super tasty pork slices thanks to a special Harry marinade, served on a bed of vermicelli cake, mint, and Bay Tinh sauce.

Spring rolls – Cha Gio

Sometimes spring rolls can be disappointing: soggy wrappers, not enough filling and too salty. But Bay Tinh’s spring rolls were filled to the brim, flavoured well & incredibly crispy!

Duck salad – Goi Vit

A sang choy bao-esque dish of succulent duck pieces, twice cooked and flavoured aromatically. Served in a salad with lettuce leaves and prawn crackers – this dish was a favourite!!!

Mains

Bonfire

As its name suggest and with anything with a naked flame, this dish brought much excitment, anticipation & awe as soon as it came out of the kitchen. This was s0on followed by a procession of rice paper, salads and sauce that prepares the diner into constructing your own bonfire “wrap”.

Bonfire

Similar to hotpot, this was a sizzling dish of meat, mixed with an incredibly tasty array of caramelised onions & coriander. Our waitstaff showed us how it was done:

Bonfire
Mixed vegetables for Bonfire
Bonfire

Lay out your rice paper, and place the meat, a bit of the cucumber, lettuce leaf, bean sprouts, pineapple & a special anchovy sauce. This was a joy to eat, so tasty and has that distinct smoky, “bonfire” taste!

Roast Spatchcock with Sticky Rice “Chips”

This spatchcock dish was so rich, slow cooked to tender perfection, with a coconut sauce (that is almost satay-like) and a very interesting chips-like side dish made from sticky rice and coconut. It was actually quite pleasant to eat!

Deep Fried fresh Snapper served with Ginger or Tamarind Sauce – Ca Chien Nuoc Mam Gung

The fish comes out of the kitchen still “frizzing” from being taken fresh from the deep fryer. Crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, this dish boasts some pretty balanced flavours of the aromatic ginger “spread”.

Bay Tinh

Overall, we had an extremely pleasant meal at Bay Tinh. It gave us an insight into another world of Asian eating, especially the French aspect of Vietnamese culture. Excellent food, warm hospitality from Harry and an awesome dining space (apparently they have more seating in the rest of the restaurant, therefore functions can be booked in advanced).

Bay Tinh

16 Falcon St Crows Nest

Ph 9438 5118

http://www.baytinhrestaurant.com.au/

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New Shanghai, Chatswood

We spent one absolutely fine, Sunday lunch at New Shanghai, Chatswood, to try and taste their range of dumplings and other Chinese fare – thanks to George from Wasamedia and New Shanghai. This was my first time in Chatswood Chase, as I’m not a North Shore girl and I usually cross this side of the bridge only to visit Mr J’s sister in St Leonards.

We were excited to see the lovely darkly-lit, heavily decorated New Shanghai restaurant in the middle of Chatswood Chase’s food court. It was interesting to see a proper sit down restaurant in the middle of a food court, but I think this is now an increasingly ongoing trend with most shopping centres. It just provides another option for diners who might want to eat somewhere different but still be inside the shops (and not lose the parking spot… like me!!).

We were immediately shown to a round table, which can easily fit 2, 4, 6, and perhaps even 8 people. The restaurant was packed full this Sunday lunch, and a long queue had started forming outside. But on closer observation, and much like other Chinese restaurants, the service was fast and the turnover was quick and so it seemed that waiting wasn’t too long.

We opted for the 7 course wine and dumpling menu for $69 pp, which was essentially a degustation of dumpling, cold and hot meats with matching wines. Mr J chose to have beer instead of the matching wines as he was driving, while I was ecstatic to try out the wines. We were also given a cheat sheet of our dishes and the wines, which was a nice touch so we knew exactly where we were during the course of our lunch.

Mix Cold Dish Starter

  1. Shredded kelp mixed with spice & vinegar dressing
  2. Chopped cucumber tossed with fresh garlic
  3. Drunken chicken – Chicken soaked in Chinese wine with herb & spice

The kelp was very similar to a Japanese seaweed salad, with a glass noodle-like texture that was pleasing to pair up with the chicken. The chicken was well season and tender, cold and moist and worked well with the almost-pickled cucumber.

The first dish was served with a Leo Buring Clare Valley Riesling 2011.

Mix Steamed Dumplings

  1. New Shanghai Xiao Long Bao – Steamed mini pork bun
  2. Steamed mini crab meat and pork
  3. Steamed vegetarian dumpling

Anyone who hasn’t tasted xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, should go taste them now. New Shanghai’s Xiao Long Bao do not disappoint either – they do not stick to the bottom of the steamers, and hence you avoid the stress and drama of popping them in your mouth before they “explode”. But when they do explode in your mouth, it’s like a symphony of tastes and flavours. Pair this up with a generous amount of soy sauce and red wine vinegar and you’re soul will sing.

This was paired up with Angel Cove Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010.

The dumplings are made fresh onsite. These ladies gave me the thumbs up after this photo was taken – happy ladies, happy dumplings!

Shepherd’s purse & pork wonton tossed with sesame butter, red chilli oil & spice

I was expecting big, massive flavours similar to laksa, but what I found with this dish was a pleasant, subtle and smooth soup with a tasty wonton thanks to the sesame butter. A hit of chilli oil adds just the right amount of spice.

This was served with Cape Schanck Mornington Peninsula Pinot Grigio 2010.

Pan Fried Dumplings

  1. New Shanghai pan fried pork bun
  2. Pan fried pork dumpling

I love fried dumplings, especially those packed full of meat, vegetables, aromatics and flavours. It gives you that wonderful, almost-gyoza like pot stickers that are moreish and surprisingly quite filling.

This was served with Fifth Leg Crisp Chardonnay 2010.

Shepherd’s Purse, Prawn and Tofu Soup

A break from the entrees before the mains were served, this soup was packed full of ingredients of smooth tofu and a silky broth.

This was served with Squealing Pig Otago Pinot Noir 2010.

Main

  1. Pork belly braised over night in sweet soy sauce
  2. Deep fried chicken with special garlic & chilli sauce

The pork belly was certainly the star of the show. The deep fried chicken was cooked to perfection (complete with crispy skin and all), but you just can’t go past pork belly infused with flavours thanks to an overnight braising and marinating. We could not get enough of this beauty.

This was paired with Penfolds Koonunga Hill 76 Shiraz Cabernet 2010.

Dessert

Slow cooked white fungus with papaya soup

I have never tasted this dish before, and was told by our waitstaff that this was a common Chinese dessert. Quite interesting! Mr J absolutely loved this dish, and I was pleasantly surprised myself with this slippery and yet satisfying and refreshing dessert.

We were also offered another dessert, and so I chose the strawberry pudding dessert. A vanilla laced pudding similar to panacotta and sweetened by strawberry syrup and fresh strawberries.

It took us a few hours, countless number of dumplings, a kick ass pork belly main, and a surprisingly pleasant dessert to make us deliriously happy and full to the brim.

Trish & Mr J dined as guests of New Shanghai. Thanks to George of Wasamedia and New Shanghai for the kind hospitality.

New Shanghai Restaurant has 5 branches in NSW. We dined at Chatswood Chase. Chatswood Chase do not take bookings on Sundays.

Shop B-038, Chatswood Chase
Chatswood, NSW 2067
+61 2 9412 3358

http://www.newshanghai.com.au

 

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