1 May 2010
Buon Ricordo @ 108 Boundary St, Paddington, NSW
“Buon Ricordo” is an Italian phrase that translates literally to “good memories”. Our previous visit to Buon Ricordo suggests that it is a highly appropriate name for that restaurant. It is a name that evokes memories of the warm familial atmosphere, of the consistent excellence of its cuisine and, inevitably, of the revered fettuccine al tartufovo with its rich truffled egg and perfectly cooked pasta.
As with the previous occasion, we ordered the six course degustation ($125) consisting of two entrees, one pasta, one seafood main course and one meat main course. Somewhat decadently however, the degustation this time was consumed for lunch.
The meal started with an excellent bruschetta. A thick, warm slice of toasted house made sourdough was served with a sensational topping of tomato, basil and red onion and glistened with a generous splash of extra virgin olive oil. It was a fantastic tastebud-enlivening start to what promised to be a truly memorable meal.
Our first entrée was a dish of thinly sliced ocean trout marinated in extra virgin olive oil and topped with cured, air dried tuna, lemon, garlic and tarragon. As expected, the fish was very fresh and the flavours were light, fragrant and appetising.
Next came one of the favourites from our previous visit, the unfortunately named fagottini di carne. The less than picturesque presentation of the short and squat sausage was more than compensated for by the succulent moist flesh which was rich with parmesan and truffle. It is a delicious example of Buon Ricordo's homely dishes and is thoroughly recommended.
As expected of any acclaimed Italian restaurant, Buon Ricordo is particularly good at producing quality pasta dishes. The timballo napoletano that we had was no exception. Large tubes of tubular pasta were filled with meat balls, peas, quail eggs and provola cheese and then covered in napoletana sauce. The flavours were complex and rich with the occasional delightful smoky hint of the provola. Texturally, the chewiness of the provola contrasted nicely with the perfectly cooked al dente pasta and delicate quail eggs. Our waiter presented to us as “a wonderful dish” and we could not have agreed more.
Unfortunately, the main courses did not quite maintain those lofty standards. The crispy skinned bass groper with cauliflower puree, cauliflower florets and squid ink was a solid rather than spectacular dish. The fish was certainly very fresh and excellently cooked. However, the accompanying flavours were ultimately conservative and, for my palate, a little bland. Similarly, the final main course of the roasted, deboned duck with sautéed broccoli, garlic and chilli was a dish of pleasant but mundane flavours.
Dessert was a similar story. We shared two desserts: the nougat semifreddo on a pistachio scented cream, served with candied fruit and the chocolate and hazelnut mousse on a sponge base covered in chocolate. Both were good but left us pining for the Buon Ricordo magic that had been so deftly imparted on the entrees.
To be fair, the meal we had at Buon Ricordo was of excellent quality. A careful reflection on our last visit suggests that our recent experience was, at worst, slightly inferior to our earlier one. After all, that earlier time, it was also the entrees that left us spellbound; from the amazingly tender baby squid to the faggotini di carne which we eagerly ordered again to the sublime fettuccine al tartufovo. It is entirely possible that the excellence of those three dishes was sufficient to, in our minds, overcome any shortcomings with the main courses (neither of which we can readily recall) and colour our overall impressions.
If nothing else, Buon Ricordo is worth a visit on the strength of its entrees and for the magnificence of its pastas. Throw in a couple of solid main courses and a pleasant dessert and the $125 price tag for the degustation menu still, to us, represents excellent value. After two visits, Buon Ricordo continues to evoke good memories.