I was excited to be invited to attend a cooking class and brand new Surry Hill’s Italian eatery: Parma, which is renowned for offering a delicious range of modern Italian dishes inspired by the fresh produce of the ‘food heart’ of Italy – Parma. The inconspicuous restaurant come cafe is situated on the corner of Crown and Campbell Streets, and the120 seat restaurant is the perfect spot for a quick pizza at lunch, an after work aperitivo or a sumptuous dinner.
I attended the cooking class with head chef; Alessandro Vinci-Cannava, formerly of Establishment and the Pymble Golf Club, who brings his relaxed Italian style of cooking and personality to the venue. He explained: “Parma is all about creating a comfortable environment for diners to sit back, relax and enjoy some really good Italian food and wine. I’m always on hand to talk about the food and produce, and have even been known to share a recipe or two!”
Born in Lombardy, Italy, and originally trained to be a jeweller in keeping with the family tradition, Vinci-Cannava decided that his passion for food was too strong and so enrolled to be professionally trained as a chef at the IPSSAR Paolo Borsellino in Palermo, Sicily. This training gave him strong gastronomic knowledge of both northern and southern Italian food and further grew his love of cooking.
Following his training in Italy, Vinci-Cannava moved to Sydney in 2003 and took up several positions at some of the city’s top venues including Pymble Gold Club and Establishment in the city. He then moved to Lima, Peru, to spend some time with his mother and set up his own Italian restaurant, Favola.
During his time in Peru, Vinci-Cannava was somewhat of a local celebrity, appearing regularly on local cooking shows like 20 Lucas – a Peruvian show similar to Ready Steady Cook where leading chefs had to cook an entrée, main and dessert for four for just $7 – and taught at some of the country’s leading cookery schools including the chef school at St. Ignacio de Loyola University.
Moving back to Sydney in 2010, Vinci-Cannava has now taken up the reins at Parma where he brings his relaxed Italian style of cooking and personality to the venue, creating a range of modern Italian dishes inspired by the fresh produce of the ‘food heart’ of Italy – Parma.
Alessandro sure didn’t disappoint on this occasion as we were taught how to make pizza bases, pasta from scratch and the most delicious sauces you’ve ever tasted! Sydney Social 101 was joined by fellow bloggers, Miss Darlinghurst, VegaTARAian, Figs and Brie, Miss Piggy Eats and RamenRaff. (@misspiggyeats @ramenraff @llolali @vegeTARAian and @msdarlinghurst)
Pizza is a highlight at Parma and I was told that people travel from afar to sample the fresh Itallian cuisine! Toppings range from the spicy Diavola – Tomato, Mozzarella, Spicy Salami, Anchovies and Onions – to the delicate Verde – Pesto, Goats Curd, Roasted Capsicum and Truffle Oil. Gluten free bases are also available and all pizzas use fresh Buffalina Mozzarella from Italy.
Alessandro explained to the group and I the science behind making homemade pasta and the importance of ensuring that you don’t mix your salt with the yeast when making your pizza dough at home!
The drinks menu is as colourful as the food, with a range of local and Italian beers and wines including Fabiano from Verona and Sorelli sourced straight from Tuscany. Cocktails include the Parma Bellini and for something to put hairs on your chest there’s The Godfather, which comprises Scotch whisky and Di saronno served over ice.
I was impressed with the restaurant’s stylish interior with white washed brick walls, comfortable banquette seating around the edges adorned with colourful, playful cushions and a striking black and white feature wall displaying an artistic street scene. The open bar downstairs and kitchen upstairs provide a sense of performance for diners as they can watch all of their dishes, including the pasta, being made from scratch.
All in all the food was out of this world and I will be sure to go back to Parma again! Thank you to Alessandro and Helen Lear for inviting me to take part in such a great event!
Parma, 285A Crown Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
(02) 9332 4974
Tuesday – Thursday
Lunch: 12pm – 3:30pm
Dinner: 5:30pm – 10pm
Friday – Saturday
Lunch: 12pm – 3:30pm
Dinner: 5:30pm – 11pm
12pm – 9pm