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LA DOLCE VITA: Italian flavours sing at The Exchange

For pizza maestro Franco Malgioglio, it’s all about the three Ps – Patience, Passion and Pride.

And as head pizza chef at The Kitchen at The Exchange Hotel, along with head chef Mitch Phillips, Franco’s mantra has created a delicious authentic Italian-influenced menu that never cuts corners.

“I have a rule in my kitchen – it’s patience and passion. If you’ve got patience and passion you’re going to produce a dish that will wow someone,” Franco said.

Actually, it should be the three Ps patience, passion and pride. When I put something out for you to eat. I’m proud of what I’ve done and when you eat that and look at me and say ‘well done,’ that’s the best success.”

Franco said that while all P’s are important, it is the patience that can be hardest to learn.

“My grandmother used to cook her ragu for five or six hours and you’d get a beautiful film of red oil on top and that’s the flavour that comes into the pasta.,” he said.

“I guess that one of the most important things about Italian cooking is that you’ve got to be patient you have to learn to let the sauce cook. You can’t just after one hour say it’s ready because it won’t be.”

Franco’s passion is more than evident when it comes to the quality pizzas coming out of the impressive wood-fired oven.

In fact, his quest for pizza perfection has been an almost lifelong journey.

“I’ve been working for over 25 years to perfect the dough. The dough is levitated for 24 to 48 hours and the result is a base that’s nice and fluffy but also crunchy as well,” Franco said.

“It’s not just a pizza that has things slopped on it. These pizzas are made with pride, dedication and passion.”

Top-quality ingredients are the order of the day here with Franco and team pouring heart and soul into every pizza. Not least of which the to-die-for signature Bufala (Napoli sauce, fior di latte, prosciutto, Buffalo mozzarella and basil).

Other highlights include the classic Margherita (Napoli sauce, fior di latte, and basil), and Funghi (mushroom ragu, mozzarella ricotta, parmesan, truffle and rocket).

Providing the perfect counterpoint to Franco’s love for authenticity is head chef Mitch Phillips (formerly the head chef at Blind Monk) who adds many modern flourishes.

“I’d say we’re true to style but not necessarily flavour,” Mitch said.

“You can put your own little tweak on it and as long as it works you haven’t changed the dish too much.”

Another highlight of The Kitchen menu is the pasta. There are four options on offer here – Prawn Spaghetti, Lamb Ragu Rigatoni, Mushroom and Ricotta Ravioli, and Pork and Fennel Orecchiette.

Again it is all about letting the simple, fresh ingredients do the talking here. Right down to the base for the house-made pasta.

“We use a semolina from a mill in Armidale and it’s ranked one of the best semolinas in Australia,” Mitch said.

“It’s such a great ingredient and it does so much of the heavy lifting for you.”

While it is the delectable Italian fare that makes the Kitchen truly sing, the menu also features an array of pub classics that are sure to tempt even the most cynical of tastebuds.

From a 300-gram Wagyu rump to the classic schnitty and iconic beer-battered fish and chips (not to mention a fresh and zesty Caesar, Roasted Beetroot or falafel salad) all of the famed pub-grub hits are here and, yes, of course, there’s a Parma!

“This is a menu that is accessible to anyone,” Mitch said. “From people wanting a classic pub feed to those after some delicious Italian.”

The Kitchen is located at The Exchange Hotel Hamilton (125 Denison Street, Hamilton) Head here for more information.

Written by Newcastle Live

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