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Today, we took a trip to Bologna. In our mouths. Our mouths took a trip to Bolgona. What we mean to say is that there is an endearing new start up called Il Mattarello that makes pasta, Cappelletti and Italian sauces so authentic that Italy feels terribly nearby.
Filippo’s mother has been making pastas and the like in their tiny hometown of Romagna for years and is renowned in their village for it. As a proud Italian, Filippo found it very frustrating when visiting Hong Kong to taste dishes proudly boasting Italian monikers only to be something entirely different to what one would taste in Italy. Experimentation is fine, he claims, just don’t call it a carbonara if it’s not remotely anything like a carbonara. Helmed by Filippo and Catherine, a local Hong Konger passionate for the highest quality, Il Mattarello steers the unchartered waters of simple, light, and über flavoured Italian fare. This includes al dente pasta with bite, instead of what one normally encounters here, which bears greater resemblance to Cheung Fun than to any proper pasta of European descent.
The pasta is so tasty and textured that it can almost be eaten alone, with just a healthy dose of extra virgin olive oil (don’t breathe a word of the more slutty alternative Virgin Olive Oil lest you morbidly offend the Italian race as a whole). Egg and flour (Italian, please note) is all that you shall find in these elongated strands of delight. When the spaghetti is doused lovingly in a tablespoon of the homemade pesto (made also with Italian parmigiano regiano, and basil they’ve been growing themselves here in Hong Kong), each coarse strand becomes coated in garlicky glory, which makes for one intensely enjoyable mouthful. Never has the ratio of pasta to sauce been so deliciously achievable. The trick here is the hand rolling. Like not even pasta machine; we’re talking old school pins and dough people. Rolling it with this method means the surface area doesn’t become too smooth (which is nature of so many, if not most, of the store bought varieties even if from Italy. Mass production compromises taste nearly every time), admitting saucey occupation upon every square mm of those desirable strands.
The Cappelletti is even more seductive, as sits on one’s plate, plump and ready for action. These also were first sampled with absolutely no further flavouring, such was the level of their naked completeness. This article is getting awfully saucy. But the pasta certainly wasn’t, and the potato Cappelletti is so vibrant an Italian dumpling that it really requires no more seasoning bar perhaps a little pecorino and cracked pepper sprinkled on top. The flavour balance with the parcel is profound, with nutmeg lending a little heat to the creamy ricotta (which is also made by the duo, using organic Italian milk whenever possible and Japanese milk when not). This can equally be said of the spinach Cappelletti, which is made with local organic spinach and parmigiano, ricotta and nutmeg, who again makes an appearance to add her spicy kick. All can be finished with the tomato sauce, which the couple ladles up and bottles for your convenience.
They are adding mushroom to the ever-widening choice of fillings, which at the moment also includes a pumpkin/Parmesan and walnut/ricotta selection we’re dying to get our hands on. Which is surprisingly easy as they deliver. To anywhere. At any time (pretty much). But you’d better be quick, because as soon as word gets out of how bang on the money these Italian zealots are with their pastas, we doubt it’ll be quite as easy to get some so rapidly. That’s because they deliver it themselves; primarily as they don’t entirely trust Hong Kong courier standards, but also because they want to meet all their clients. Their policy is ‘freshly made and delivered on the same day, order by order.”
You see? …authentic.
http://www.ilmattarellohk.com/home.html; (852) 9439 1201
By Keshia Hannam