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Sicily Night: Italian Regional Tasting Series at Roccella

Overlooking the Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne, Italian all-day eatery Roccella has a commanding presence amongst locals. Initially opening in January 2020, not long before the world came to a halt, the restaurant credits its survival on this fiercely loyal community. We were invited to the Sicily themed Italian regional dinner at this modern Italian eatery in East Melbourne.

Having made it through the past 12 months, Roccella is now throwing open its doors to the rest of Melbourne with ‘Serie Regionale’ – a series of special tasting nights that define regional Italian cuisine. Beginning in Sicily for one night only diners were transported across the oceans with a menu – ‘Sicilia Bedda’.

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"Roccella exists to share the food we grew up eating, using recipes passed down through our families. We are not too interested in trends, just good, hearty Italian dishes and hospitality – a true showcase of Southern Italian comfort food at its best," said owner Bruno Ceraso.
Inspired by childhood tales from Roccella pizza chef Francesco Crifo, the 'Sicilia Bedda' consists of dishes from Catania, Sicily, an ancient port city at the base of Mount Etna.
Well known for its chaotic fish markets and world-class seafood restaurants, diners feasted on four courses with dishes including; Sarde a Beccafico (Sardines filled with sultanas, pine nuts and citrus zest), Caserecce allo Spada (Swordfish, light cherry tomato sugo and mint), Calamari Ripieni in Salsa Siciliana (Squid filled with olives, breadcrumbs, pine nuts, parsley and caciocavallo cheese in Sicilian sugo) and Cassata (Traditional Sicilian sponge cake).

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 I enjoyed all the dishes with my favourite being the rustic Squid dish with that delicious filling and sugo.

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 A piano accordion maestro enhanced the ambience of the evening.

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Wine connoisseurs indulged in a paired vino menu with drops such as Fondo Antico Grillo Parlante, Spadafora Don Pietro Rosato and Nero d'Avola (hint of spice and my favourite).
Open seven days, diners looking for the perfect pre-footy bite before heading to the nearby MCG or those after a long Sunday lunch, will find Crifo’s pizzas also hit the spot.

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“I met Francesco when I was a diner at the pizzeria where he previously worked. I was truly blown away by his talent. We fast became friends and soon embarked on this venture together.

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“Franceso started making pizzas when he was 16 and has been teaching the art of pizza making for over ten years. Having participated in and judged championships worldwide, he is obsessed with ancient grains and healthier ways to prepare, cook and eat pizza. This dedication is obvious from the first bite of one of his creations!”, said Ceraso.

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Hand-stretched with 48-hour matured sourdough, pizzas include; Mortadella (fior di latte, cherry tomatoes, mortadella, pistachio pesto and stracciatella), Patate e Salsiccia (Roasted potatoes, fior di latte, pork fennel sausage, Calabrese nduja and peperonata), and Smoked Salmon (avocado cream base, fior di latte, smoked salmon, goat's curd and vincotto glaze).
Roccella is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days from 8 am until late.