La Disfida – a taste of little Italy in Sydney

March 26th, 2012 No comments

The Speedread…

  • Pizza’s $22; Pasta $19
  • Reservations taken only for 5-10 people (strictly)
  • Home-style Italian cuisine; the best pizza in Sydney

The Need-to-knows…

  • Must try: Barletta pizza: tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto crudo, basil, pepper, olive oil
  • Address: 109 Ramsey St, Haberfield

Italy… a country where, on my most recent visit, I ate endless amounts of paper thin pizzas and super fresh pastas with no fears of calories..and I did that only because the taste was just so good….

Only there was one thing I couldn’t quite get over…the lack of meat present. I’m a self-confessed meatosaurus, and I recall one incident in Sorrento when I ordered a lasagne imagining some lovely juicy pieces of beef mince dotted inside fresh silky sheets of pasta. When it arrived on our tables it was an all vege-only option. I asked the waiter if there was any chance that I could get some meat in it, and he promptly replied that was not an option. Insert sad face.

So fast forward, and I now find myself sat down inside a cosy little Italian restaurant in the heart of Haberfield. It’s 6.00pm and already the place is flushed full of people – we were lucky to have even scored a table on a Saturday night.

It’s always hard to choose what to eat at a restaurant just looking at the menu because you don’t want a case of table envy…you know what I’m talkin’ about…when you think the food on the table next door looks better than yours. …and on this occasion, we chose:

Cuttlefish salad with fennel and agrumi dressing

Perfectly cooked strips of cuttlefish (blanched, not grilled) so it literally melted in the mouth. The addition of the Agrumi dressing was truly unique and captured some very summary flavours – a light dressing consisting of orange juice, lemon and lime  with a dash of extra virgin olive oil. The fennel added a lovely crisp texture to the dish.

Zucchini, tomato, mozzarella and salami $22

Again, lovely and light. You know that you have the freshest ingredients on a whip-thin pizza base and cheese that doesn’t leave your stomach crying for help. It was fantastic. Impossibly thin cuts of zucchini teamed up with the freshest, ever so slightly spicy cut of salami. Yum.

Barletta pizza: tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto crudo, basil, pepper, olive oil $22

Our second pizza – by this time we were all in love with how the flavours worked so well together in a lovely, light way. A tomato base that wasn’t overpowering with thin, juicy strips of prosciutto adorning the pizza. Bellissimo!

Grilled field mushrooms with sauteed rocket fontina fondue

Must admit, we weren’t expecting the dish to look the way it did when it arrived on our tables but, after eating the fantastic pizza’s we knew the flavours would be right and we weren’t disappointed! Lovely rich cheese actually did well with the sauteed rocket. Usually I find rocket a tad on the bitter side but not in this case. The lovely field mushrooms kept their shape well and acted as a “bowl” for the cheese and rocket mixture. Perhaps this isn’t a dish that I’d eat too often for its richness alone, but we did definately enjoy it all the same!

Tartufa: Mozzarrella, prosciutto, wild mushrooms, truffle $26

LOVE, LOVE truffle – the fresh earthy aroma from the truffle served this pizza well. Now, I’ve had truffle before in soups or stuffed inside tender chicken breasts but on a pizza? This was a first, and definately not a last.

Arancini misti (trio): Gorgonzola and truffle, eggplant and ricotta, ham and mozzarella $17

Wasn’t hard to pick our favourite, one clearly stood out from the crowd: Gorgonzola and truffle. Yes, truffle. Again. Can’t get enough of it and together with fine picks of rice, it was a rich, silky and gorgeous dish. Bliss! We definately preferred this over the other two which weighed a little on the ‘heavy’ side of flavour.

Burrata with funghi $18

What is Burrata, I hear? Silky smooth cheese that comes out looking like an inflated egg. Poke it and what you will get is a luscious cascade of cream cheese that spills out from the centre. Teamed up with delicious rocket and marinated mushrooms, it works very well indeed.

Baby beets, buffalo, watercress $18

My partner actually hates eating beetroots, but I’m pretty sure that even he can be convinced with this deliciously light salad. The buffalo melts in your mouth and the rocket has a nice, ever so slightly sweet thick black vinegar to it that clings on for dear life.

Scallops Gratinate $18

Never bought into the idea of having scallops with a crumbly crunchy topping but this worked nicely – the delicate morsels of breadcrumb had been marinated in pepper and garlic and sprinkled liberally over the tender morsels of scallop meat. We were intially afraid the crumbly surface would be dry but this one was perfect, again thanks to the black sweet vinegar spread over the scallops.

Pizza Bianca (white base); sausage and eggplant $26

I love eggplant and this was simply delicious. The eggplant was not soggy but crisp to the bite, and teamed up quite well with the juicy bits of sausages scattered liberally over the surface. Once again, we couldn’t fault the impossibly thin pizza base either. While this pizza was yummy, I still prefer the prosciutto and mozzarella pizza for the flavour it delivers in such a simple package.

Best pizza’s in Sydney? I certainly think so, but then again it is a matter of personal preference. I can recommend any pizza on their regular menu but it’s always well worth your while to browse the specials written on the black boards before ordering because they do try to offer different foods every week and it really is a great dining experience. On my most recent visit I spotted Cate Blanchett dining at the restaurant with her family – this is definately a family friendly restaurant and if you’re lucky, who knows what star you may also bump into :) Happy dining!

La Disfida

109 Ramsey St, Haberfield

(02) 9798 8299

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Categories: Italian

Strawberry cups with Tiramisu Chocolate Mousse

March 18th, 2012 No comments

Strawberries filled with Tiramisu Chocolate Mousse...heaven in a cup

Fruit always tastes better with chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Probably nature did not design it that way, but it just works. We decided to try out a recipe we saw on erica sweet toothwhich looked in one word: awesome. Super sweet and juicy summery strawberries, hollowed out and filled with chocolate.

Only we decided to deviate from the recipe and experiment by filling the centre of the strawbery not with regular melted chocolate but rather, with a deliciously light Tiramisu flavoured chocolate mousse.

(I’m lying by the way: this mousse can in no way be considered ‘light’..but it’s well worth the calories)

There’s a couple of tricky bits to make note of, but navigate your way around them and you will have the most incredibly creative, light and attractive dessert to serve your guests for a dinner party. I’m pretty convinced that even children would eat this dish with no second thoughts. So here we go!


A delicious dessert that requires no cutlery. What more could you want? :)

For the cups:

2 dozen strawberries, washed with the tops of the strawberries cut off and set aside.

For the base of the strawberries:

100g of dark chocolate, melted

For the filling (tiramisu chocolate mousse):

100g good quality dark  chocolate, cut into small pieces

3 tbsp espresso coffee

1tsbp unsalted butter

3 tbsp marsala

2 egg yolks

3 tbsp mascarpone cheese

3/4 cup cold full-fat cream (whipped)

Pinch of white sugar



Prepare the strawberry cups:

1.Using a spoon, carefully remove the inside of the strawberry and set aside. Make sure you don’t pierce through the skin of the strawberry. This can be a very delicate operation!

2. Cut the ends off the strawberry (you will only need to cut approximately 0.5cms from the bottom of the strawberry). Make sure the ‘skin’ of the strawberries are dry.

3. Dip the end of the strawberry into the chocolate and place it in a dish so that the chocolate-covered bottom is facing upwards:

Chocolate dipped strawberries, bottom side up!

4. Place the strawberries into the refrigerator until the chocolate has set.

5. Repeat steps 3-4 so that your end result is that the bottoms of the strawberries have two coats of chocolate.


Prepare the tiramisu chocolate mousse:

1. Combine the butter, espresso coffee and chocolate in a stainless steel bowl over simmering water. Once well combined and chocolate melted, set aside. The butter will give the chocolate a lovely sheen.

2. In a stainless steel bowl, put the marsala, sugar, egg yolks and gently whisk it over a low heat. Keep it moving!! If the heat is too high or you don’t keep it moving, you will have scrambled alcoholic eggs. When it has thickened, take if off the heat and stir in the mascarpone cheese until well combined.

3. Combine the above egg mixture with the chocolate mixture. Set aside and let it cool to room temperature.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream on high setting until nice and it forms nice peaks when the mixture is ‘lifted’.

5. Fold half of the cream into the chocolate mixture. Then fold in the remaining cream. At this stage it should look smooth and fluffy.

6. Carefully pipe or spoon the mixture into the hollow strawberries. We found piping it in was much easier and cleaner.

7. Gently place the tops of the strawberries back on so that the chocolate mousse is well covered. You will need to find the closest match to the strawberry in terms of the size of the top, otherwise your guests will see the chocolate oozing out from inside – and that isn’t pretty.

Bon appetit!


Tiramisu chocolate mousse – modification of the original recipe from food wishes

Categories: My Recipes!
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