Seems like we just can’t get enough of Chef Lino’s heavenly southern Italian cuisine. We were down at Gattopardo last Sunday to celebrate our friend M’s birthday and were once again full of praise for the charming chef from Sicily.
We started our evening at the restaurant’s adjacent cocktail bar where we were delighted with aperitifs and treated to a basket of super addictive Parmesan bread sticks and olives. The ultra hospitable barman Alessandro, just freshly flown in from Italy, did a wonderful job of keeping us girls very happy and spirited.
Adjourning for dinner at the restaurant proper, we once again elected to sit at the counter, in front of the large glass chiller teeming with the freshest catch of the day.
Service was like our previous visit, attentive but not intrusive, and Chef Lino played wonderful host to his ardent fans. Even Gunther Hubrechsen made an appearance. We spied him tucking heartily into his pizza and seafood stew – a very good sign!
For our starter, we shared the Mozzarella di Bufala e Cuore di Bue – “Campania” Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese with Italian “Ox Heart” Tomatoes and Fresh Salad. The Ox Heart tomatoes were plump and sweet, and paired superbly with the mild and creamy Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese both in taste and colour. The frisée salad added a nice bite to the dish and pesto dressing a touch of tartness. The freshness of the produce was overwhelming. The oohing and ahhing had begun.
Next, we shared two pasta dishes between the three of us. Unfortunately, they were out of the Bottarga and Sea Urchin Spaghetti we had intentionally come for but were happy to try his other creations and be surprised. Chef Lino very thoughtfully had the dishes portioned separately for us. The Spaghetti alla Chlorophylla con Baccala Dissalato e Capperi (Homemade Chlorophyll Spaghetti with Desalted Bacalao and Sicilian Caper Flowers) was a very simple but delicate dish which included dainty bits of Bacalao (dried salt cod), tomatoes and capers. It was very light and refined dish which we very much enjoyed.
Our other pasta, Tonnarelli Al Granchio (Homemade Squid Ink Spaghetti with King Crab and Cognac Sauce) had the same lightness as our first pasta but was accentuated in flavours by the Cognac sauce. We did feel that this dish could have fared slightly better with more robust flavours, possibly from the squid ink itself, which was nearly undetectable. The tomatoes were a tad too overpowering for our liking, we felt a stronger seafood base would really have upped the ante for this dish. Nevertheless, it was tasty, perhaps just not the way we are used to squid ink pasta.
This time, the star of the night went effortlessly to the Costata di Manzo alla Fiorentina, 800g of Char-grilled Cote De Boeuf. It was grilled to a medium-rare perfection and served on a gorgeous platter accompanied with a hock of bone (marrow intact!), grilled zucchinis and a bed of potato gratin, made lovingly over a four-hour period. The beef was marbled in finger-licking-good, melt-in-your-mouth fat which garnered more cooing all round. The serving was good for two, but was perfect for the three of us.
To complete our meal, we shared a dessert ‘Semifreddo di Cioccolato Bianco e Caffè (White Chocolate Parfait and Espresso Coffee)’, sang a birthday song, and downed a shot of espresso each – a perfectly bittersweet way to end another fabulous evening with friends and great food.