Another award-winning restaurant. This one has a great history I’m sure. Just assuming so with the very iconic picture of Andy Parisi on the cover of their menu wearing the ubiquitous white singlet holding a slithering octopus. Ha!
Being our first visit to Parisi’s and its long descriptive menu, we decided to take a leap of faith – in the head chef – by ordering the recommended dishes.
First up, the Parisi’s Tasting Platter with a medley of small tasters. An impressive looking quartered square ceramic plate was brought to the table about 20 minutes after making our orders. Salt and pepper squid, vegetable braciole (basically crumbed and fried vegetable rolls), tomato-based mussles and salad made up each of the quarters with two skewers of chargrilled prawns topping the dish. The squid was cooked perfectly, tender and seasoned well, a bit too well. None of the rubbery texture of overcooked squid. It took us a long time to figure out the identity of the braciole as we hastily made our order without scrutinizing the menu. Warm crispy shells of batter fried to a dark golden brown enveloping soft vegetable centres, the braciole was a good element of the platter. The mussles were tender, fresh and flavourful with a melt-in-your mouth consistecy. Prawns were prawns though but I love prawns so no dramas there.
The first pizza was Pollo Parisi, allegedly a traditional pizza with toppings including tomato, cheese, honey mustard chicken, spinach and mushrooms served with lashings of cream. It was a good pizza but I have to say, I have never sampled a traditional Italian pizza tasting so very Asian. I think it must be the honey mustard chicken. I always thought that traditional pizzas were very much homestyle with simple ingredients of rich tomato base, heavy-handed on basil and generous chunks of gooey cheese. I don’t know, perhaps I am uncultured in the field of traditional Italian food.
We had the Panchetta spaghetti aglio e olio next. There was panchetta, Spanish onion, pine nuts, chili, baby spinach and chicken stock. And half a canister of salt. Now this was well and truly not Italian. I felt like I was having a plate of Chow Mien instead.
Hopping along with the pasta on the journey towards sodium overload and hypertension was the Bologna pizza. It had great flavours but oh the salt! The sliced gourmet ham unfortunately overpowerd the provolone cheese, swiss and porcini mushrooms and parmesan. I believe the cheeses had something to do with it as well, along with the salt added during the mushroom sauteing. The mushrooms were good though, plump and juicy.
The penne napolitana balanced the salt out with a milder flavour of tomatoes and basil. A very homely dish with hearty flavours. I fail to recall the name of the beverage but it had passion fruit floating around in the bubbly ethanol. Not my type of drink with the passion fruit in it though.
The coolest thing was when we spotted the owner of Parisi’s having a birthday celebration in the restaurant itself. A long debate on our accuracy in recognizing the man on the menu cover was snuffed out when we observed the man himself feeding cake to the waitresses and wiping down the table with a tea towel. Pretty exciting indeed.