Often, the ‘fancier’ the restaurant, the more it gets associated with a bulky corporation, unfeeling and impersonal. Well, I’m happy to say that Candelori’s – a fixture of the Sydney’s Western Suburbs fine dining scene since 1999 – is not only still within the family, but is run by son Christian, who grew up with his father in the heat of the restaurant kitchens, and has now stepped in to bring Candelori’s to the next level.
The restaurant always had a focus on traditional Italian food and fresh quality ingredients, and Christian tells me that they are now stepping up the dessert menu because he felt like the previous desserts, while good, weren’t as great as the rest of the menu was.
But before we talk about the desserts, we need to talk about the savoury items.
Burratina with Heirloom Tomatoes, $23
Burrata is one of those cheeses that is so simple, and yet so hard to get right. It looks like mozzarella on the outside, but features a soft, ricotta-like texture on the inside when you cut into it, and a milky texture that reminds me strongly of the Japanese Hokkaido Milk, which is rich and creamy in taste, but yet sits light in your stomach. The best burrata I’ve had so far has not been in Sydney, and has been air freighted from Italy (which I must admit is not great for those food miles). Well, here at Candelori’s, their supplier for burrata – this creamy creation of my dreams – is actually located in Auburn, and rather than air freighting the cheese, he imports the milk from Italy – which is slightly better for the food miles than the cheese – and has two Italian cheese makers making the burrata right here in Sydney, ensuring a super-fresh product, which has in turn, ended up on our table, paired with sweet heirloom tomatoes, a touch of white balsamic, and olive oil.
Teramano Woodfired Pizza, $23
Christian then goes on to explain that pizzas in Italy are often ordered as a starter – and so end up being a simpler affair that what the rest of the Western world is used to. Here, they serve up Naples-style pizza, with a slightly chewy base and simple toppings that are gently warmed as the bread quickly cooked in a searing hot wood fired oven. We tried the Teramano – Mushrooms, prosciutto and truffle oil – and the Magherita – a classic tomato/mozarella/basil combination. The Magherita, in this case, was a clear favourite, with its simplicity letting the ingredients, like the creamy white mozzarella, shine through.
Woodfired Pizza Calzone with Lemon Scented Tuna, $21
If you’re after something different, but not too different, I would recommend the Calzone with Lemon Scented Tuna, which is offered off the specials board. The same chewy pizza base is used here as a fluffy envelope for a creamy filling of lemon spiked tuna, buffalo mozzarella and smoked scarmorza cheese, which ooze with every cut of the hearty pastry.
Grain Fed Hunter Valley Sirloin, $42
Also on the specials board, a Grain Fed Hunter Valley Sirloin, $42. A marbled steak is cooked to medium, and served on crushed kipfler potatoes, red cabbage, artichokes, mushrooms and finished with a smoked bone marrow jus. Pro tip: if you order this dish, keep aside some of the bone marrow to mash into the potatoes for a rich, comforting bite.
And finally, just when we were about to drift off into a food induced coma, the desserts! Three of them, in fact.
Cannoli Ananas – a gel of pineapple acts as the cannoli, filled with pineapple mousse, and finished with meringue, blueberry, mint, and a dehydrated pineapple tuile – Cassata negativo – a deconstructed sicilian cassata, featuring traditional flavours of pistachio, fig and citrus, but presented in a different manner – and a Ferrero Rocher Sbagliato – with a chocolate brownie, caramelised hazelnuts, chocolate mousse, fior di latte gelato and a hazelnut twirl.
Cassata Negativo, $18
You can definitely see the effort that has gone into this revamping of the dessert menu – elements of the traditional desserts are carefully considered and presented in a modern dish. The Cassata Negativo, for example, presents the citrus element in the form of dehydrated mandarins, which provide a delicately crunchy counterpart to the creamy ice cream and sweet figs and cherries.
Ferrero Rocher Sbagliato, $18
The Ferrero Rocher Sbagliato presents more commonly recognised flavours – chocolate and hazelnuts – in a variety of textures, making for a rich and satisfying way to finish your meal.
Besides the quality of the food and the focus on freshness, the portions at Candelori’s are also quite generous! Just remember: leave room for dessert.
685 The Horsley Drive, Smithfield NSW
Phone: (02) 9729 1155
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Candelori’s