La Madonna Nera’s fazzoletti stuffed with duck ragu is a delicious brown meal.
If you can find a plate of pasta with the hue of a business suit from the 1970s, It’s perhaps the best we’ve had this year.
Yes, you’re correct. This isn’t the first time that we’ve mentioned that. We’ve talked about some amazingly excellent pastas in 2022; however, this one … Phwoar!
It offers turbo-charged flavor and exceptional quality.
There’s a belief that you shouldn’t add too many mirepoix (the aromatic holy trinity of carrots, celery, and onions) into a brais. It’s the foundation for almost every meat sauce and stew that exists.
A mirepoix definitely enhances flavor and complexities. However, it is not without risk. It could overwhelm the protein known as a hero.
As we walked towards the top of the hill to speak to the chef and thank him for the chef’s braise, we asked Did you make use of mirepoix?
Yes, shallots was the correct answer. We knew as we’ve never experienced a pasta sauce that has amazingly clear and distinct flavors devoid of any muddying vegetal undercurrent.
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It’s even better. The delicious, floppy braise of the cut legs of the duck was tender and soft without a trace of what is sometimes referred to as dryness. It was also not greasy.
I’ll let me be a raving for a little further. It is “dressed” in a reduction of the braising juice that is so pure and powerful you could drink it in a concoction.
Farinata with fried Octopus and mayonnaise made from nduja.
My god! The ragu was poured over squares of homemade Fazzoletti (handkerchief) pasta that was glossy, thick, and chewy. They were tensile and deliciously al dente. Want more? The dish was finished with layers of pangrattato and breadcrumbs that were fried in oil.
It’s a garnish that comes from cucina povera, a cheap ingredient that adds texture to dishes for those who have traditionally needed to come up with ways to use rotten bread to increase the budget. However, these were fried not in olive oils but in duck fat. Yep. It was perfectly seasoned. It was a perfect crunch topping to a top-of-the-line pasta dish.
La Madonna Nera is the dream of an architect from the past, Fiona di Lanzo, who gave up her soul to hospitality and repaid her design business to follow her goals in a tiny storefront that was dark and moody at Scarborough Beach Road at Mount Hawthorn.
Di Lanzo and her business partner Nathan Catalano opened their petite Italian just at the right time to be ready for the COVID king-hit in 2020. They nearly shut the doors before having had the chance to earn two-quarters of revenue under their belt. They also offered takeaway similar to the many eateries in Perth during the terrible winter and autumn of 2020. They barely managed to scrape by.
Arrived on Tuesday evening, and we were astonished by the level of activity that this Mount Hawthorn strip is on an early night of the week. There was more traffic than at the Prada runway show, and what areas were open (the regular post-COVID hours are available from Wednesday to Sunday in the entire industry) were bustling. Also, Madonna Nera, in all its Milan street style.
To start, we ordered small plates. One of them, the farinata, with fritted octopus and nduja mayonnaise, was the most popular. Farinata is a pancake or flatbread made of chickpea flour. You can find it all over southern Europe.
Nice, the city, which was an Italian city prior to the time when borders were moved, and it was made part of France, is home to a variant known as socca. This crispy pancake has a flat surface, similar to the high school brass band, and incredibly crisp. Anyway, it was the main attraction. Octopus, an ingredient of the most often sloppy cooking in Perth, was stunning, as was the chewy mayonnaise made from nduja. Everyday.
Amberjack Crudo was disappointing. The oil with a green flavor in which the thin slices of crudo were placed could have been a result of the greenskeeper. The only thing we could taste was the unpleasant taste that grass clippings leave. It was also garnished by strange green (unripe) pieces of strawberries. It’s a chef-related thing and a garnish that pops now and then but is completely useless. The fish was absolutely fresh. What about the food itself?
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Braised fennel topped with white beans and whipped almonds was an upgrade. The fennel was served as large slices, which were soft and charred with the most excellent charcoal. White bean purée was delicious. Great cooking.
It was time for the mains. “24-hour beef cheek with oxtail jus and Jerusalem artichoke” was a flavor bomb; however, it was too cooked.
One would indeed expect longer-braised secondary cuts to be soft, soft, and moist; however, when the meat becomes mince when you bite it and dissolves in as you chew it and chew, it’s cooked too much. It was underseasoned, too. The best part of the food was cooked cavolo in nero Tuscan and kale strewn in the juices and meat. It was chewy and had an attractive green-black color. It was beautifully seasoned, too.
If you’re not interested in ordering, you can ask for the chef’s menu, which costs $60 per head. It’s referred to as”the Magna e Zitt menu, meaning “shut up and eat.” I love this.
La Madonna Nera is a welcoming place that is full of friendly, chatty customers of all ages and stripes. It entices you with its dim lighting, dark-colored finishes, and a variety of seating options, from a bar top to a long communal table and classic seating. It truly has the atmosphere of a back street tavern that is located in Milan as well as Rome.
The wine selection is adequate and huge by current standards, featuring most of the Italian labels made by small producers as well as locally sourced bottles. The prices are reasonable on the selection, which means that you can go on a great night out with your budget blown. However, there are some truly lust-worthy big guns as well, like the 2012. Paolo Bea Montepulciano Sangiovese priced at $210. We enjoyed an ice-cold glass of Soave each. I’m sorry, I don’t know the name of the producer. It was a wonderful wine, one that left a spicy tingle in the jaw following a crisp, dry, fruity beginning. Marvellous.
Did we like La Madonna Nera? Yes, we did. It’s all of the components: Good decor, a good Italian atmosphere, professional service, and wine and food cooked by a kitchen that is a pro at what it does, even if there are some blunders.