Restaurateur Giovanna Aiello just has set up shop a stones throw from Concord West Station. Binario Uno (meaning Platform One) is a tribute to Calabrian cuisine’s guiding ethos of freshness and simplicity.
What childhood memories do you have of food?
I lived on a farm (in Southern Italy) until the age of seven. The meat we ate was truly free and dad went hunting for game meat. Mum would make an egg and asparagus omelette with the asparagus we picked from the bush and fresh eggs collected that day from our chickens. We had our own orchard, and climbing the trees to pick the cherries and other fruits brings back wonderful memories.
Your restaurant is named for its close proximity to Concord West Train Station. Do you think food and travel have a unique affinity? What is your favourite mode of transport?
I believe in sampling different foods local to different places. Therefore, if I’m travelling I want to sample the foods that are being served at that particular place, be it Australia or other parts of the world. I have such a busy life that jumping in my car has to be my favourite mode of transport.
What is your vision for Binario Uno?
My vision has always been for regional Italian cooking: serving up home-made pastas and sauces, and we are heading that way this year. We are thinking of bringing a different region of Italy to our customers each month. Hopefully, our customers will be excited about sampling different dishes.
What is one thing from Italy you wish you could bring to Sydney’s Inner West? I would love to be the one to introduce them to the ‘poor style’ of Italian cooking and eating which I love so much. It is tasty, healthy, cost effective and involves a few ingredients.
What was your most memorable meal?
My most memorable meal would have to be chilli lobster. It was my birthday and I was going through a rough period in my life. I was working with my friend Daniel after a 12 hour shift that ended at midnight and we went to a Chinese restaurant in Beverly Hills. He knew how much I love lobster so he ordered a whole giant lobster just for me.
1.5L vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
4 shallots finely chopped
1 head celery (white tender part only)
2 button mushrooms chopped in quarters
1 medium roasted red capsicum
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley
50g calamata olives
Sea salt and black pepper
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
400g carnaroli long grain rice
100ml dry white wine
100g freshly grated parmesan cheese
1. Roast red capsicum, peel outside skin, remove all the seeds, cut thin strip and then cut approx. 2cm long.
2. Add 1 tbsp oil to frypan and brown mushroom on high heat, remove from pan (keep in separate bowl).
3. In same frypan add 1 tbsp oil add shallots and celery a pinch of salt and sweat vegetables for 2 or 3 mins.
4. Add the garlic and after 2 mins when all vegetables have softened add the rice.
5. Slowly and continuously stir and frying the rice you must keep the rice moving you don’t want any colour until translucent as it absorbs the flours of the vegetables fry about about 2 or 3 mins.
6. Add the white wine while stirring, keep stirring 2 mins until the wine has cooked into the rice.
7. Add you first ladle of hot stock and a pinch of salt.
8. Turn down the head to a high simmer, keep adding ladlefuls of stock and allowing to be absorbed before adding the next (should take approx. 15 minutes).
9. Add the calamata olives, roasted capsicum and fried mushrooms, check seasoning and add more stock if necessary (risotto should be moist not dry)
10. Remove from heat add butter, parmesan cheese (reserving a little) and parsley stir gently.