Only the finest is on the table at Tavolo
It’s been a little over 12 months since Tavolo opened its doors, bringing the flavours of modern European cuisine to Belmont. The younger sister restaurant to Sapore, also owned by Jess and Mario Fisicchia, the Italian influence is certainly there, with woodfired pizza and homemade pasta making up a substantial portion of the menu.
While the name may be the Italian word for ‘table’, Head Chef Brandyn Horsley explains the influences reach beyond ‘the boot’.
“We like to keep ourselves open to the flavours of Europe, which means we get to play with our Spanish chorizos and quesos, the French bries and all the nice Italian cheeses, as well,” he says.
Horsley’s experience crosses borders, too. By the age of 17, he’d completed his apprenticeship in Perth, moving on to travel and work in Europe. After returning home and stepping up to a sous chef position at The Principal, a trip to Japan to work in the three-Michelin-star establishment Nihonryori Ryugin readied him for a head chef position, and eventually to open Tavolo with Mario and Jess.
Whichever part of the world inspires a dish, the passion is obvious. Horsley starts as early as 2am to make the fresh pasta in-house, the early start giving him better control over the temperature and humidity of the kitchen. Using specially imported Antico Molino Caputo flour for an authentic Italian taste, the restaurant produces over 75 kilos of pasta every week. Once cooked, all pasta dishes are finished with Trentin Grana Padano DOP.
On cheese, Tavolo’s cheeseboard is ever changing, using new imports and freshly sourced produce. This week, you might find the Ubriaco Al Vino Rosso from the Veneto region, a semi-hard, red wine stained cheese, similar to manchego. Another favourite that also makes an appearance on their board, as well as their pizzas, is Castel Regio Gorgonzola Piccante DOP.
A pizza at Tavolo is no ordinary experience. The crisp base is thanks in part to a specialist woodfired pizza oven, using jarrah for its superior clean and intense coals. Most often topped with Corvino Buffalo Mozzarella DOP, they take just a few minutes thanks to the 400-degree temperatures of the oven, capturing the gestalt of beautifully cooked pizza. (Hot tip: on Wednesday nights, you can try any one of them with the beer of the month for 20-bucks!)
The small team in the kitchen aren’t shy to get inventive with fresh seasonal ingredients either, led in part by Horsley’s love of the fine dining and molecular gastronomy. Just a few of his influences include Heston Blumenthal, Massimo Bottura, and Ferran Adria, who’s often credited with starting the deconstructed food movement with the famous El Bulli.
But his influences also come from his upbringing. The son of a butcher, and growing up on acreage, the family was used to sowing their own vegetables and butchering their own meat, instilling the values of sourcing local and and fresh produce, and knowing its origin.
“It’s kind of a sense of getting everything fresh, knowing where your food comes from,” says Horsley. “I butcher my own meat as much as possible, even at home, and make a conscious effort to go to the veggie markets with my suppliers. It’s about being involved in as many processes as I can.”
The result is a restaurant where you can enjoy veg from a few suburbs over, Italian DOP cheeses, line-caught fish from WA waters, and the beef that hails from a beautiful paddock in the south-west. It’s all on the table at Tavolo.