Seared duck livers with Amarene sour cherries, polenta bianca and crisp pancetta ($19)
Handmade ravioli with spinach, parmigiano reggiano, gruyere, buffalo mozzarella and organic burnt butter and sage ($21, $34)
Campari poached pear tart ($15) smooth drop. There’s an excellent selection of Italian, Australian and New Zealand wines available by the bottle or glass.
Sweets would seem a bridge too far but on gentle persuasion we accept the dessert menu just to have a look’’. There’s a good selection of cheeses, including a sirbone pecorino crotonese, a classic southern Italian style semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese aged in wicker baskets, and a mixed goat and sheep milk cheese aged with grape skins, among others.
Turning the page, there’s the likes of a nougat, ligurian honey and almond milk semifreddo with candied almond ($15) and an affogato with vanilla icecream and chocolate liqueur ($15).
We decide to share a warm chocolate hazelnut pudding with gold leaf ($16) and blame the neighbours for the volte-face. They took delivery of one as we were perusing the desserts list, the wafting chocolatey scent rudely invading the nostrils and blowing our best intentions out of the water. Pendolino Shop 100, Level 2, The Strand Arcade, 412-414 George St, Sydney 2000. (02) 9231 6117. www.pendolino.com.au. Open: Lunch: Mon-Fri 12pm-3pm; Dinner: Mon-Sat 6pm-late. Cost: About $220 for two, including wine. Drink: Australian, NZ and Italian tipples. Reasons to return: To check out the cafe, bar and L’Olioteca. And to savour once more that addictive White Rocks veal pappardelle.