Mannaggia a Trois is a trio of chefs who do periodic pop ups on Sundays at Sagra restaurant in Darlinghurst. During lockdown they had cook at home meals but now that it is over they're hosting dinners once every few months. Each menu features their twist on Italian and Asian cuisine featuring local producers and products.
If you saw the story on Mannaggia a Trois's lockdown offering you'll know that the three chefs are Alex Wong, Hai Le and Andrea Sonnante. The name Mannaggia a Trois is a play on the French word for threesome or ménage à trois and the three see themselves as The Three Amigos.
Although I don't usually write repeat stories on restaurants or businesses Monica beseeched me to come along to the Mannaggia a Trois dinner as they're featuring her chilli oil in one of their dishes. To book a table you pre-book and pay online and there's a sample menu provided so you know what to expect. The menu has several courses with an optional scampi course that has to be pre-booked. There is also an Italian wine list by the glass or bottle and an Etna Spritz cocktail on offer and these can be ordered on the night. The idea is to hold these once every 4-6 months in a small wine bar.
The three chefs decide on the menu together which is always a share style menu with snacks as a highlight. Alex explains, "When we are writing a menu, first we think of what staples to use, proteins, veg that is in season etc. Then we think flavour and me and the boys split up the dishes and we work together to see what we want to do as well as how it would balance together as a set menu. I would also say that Andrea is the MVP when it comes to the pasta, Hai is very good with working with Asian elements to the dishes and he is also very creative, and I work with both of them make it unique and fun for us and the guests."
It's a rainy Sunday night and we have both had lazy Sundays only pulling on outside clothes just before our early dining time of 5:30pm. There are two seatings: 5:30pm and 8pm and Monica doesn't do late meals so early it is. The vibe this evening is buzzy and noisy, especially with the large tables near us.
Panzerotto, Mozzarella, Olasagasti Anchovy
Snacks are underrated in my opinion - I could happily make up a whole meal of snacks I love them so much. I'm going to start with my favourite snack. These are puffy cheese panzerotto and draped on top is a single Olasagasti anchovy, giving every second bite a lovely salty hit. A dozen of these please.
Scallop Crudo, Colatura, Finger Lime, Salmon Roe
Another favourite along with the panzerotti is the scallop crudo served on a half shell with colatura, finger lime and salmon roe. This is a simple but delightful treatment of the raw scallop. Colatura is the Italian version of Asian fish sauce that brings out and supports the other flavours seasoning but not over powering them.
Beef Tongue, Seaweed Salsa Verde, Eschalot
The third snack is the beef tongue on a skewer. "I love tongue," says Monica playfully. The tender beef tongue is thinly sliced, skewered and grilled and served with a seaweed salsa verde and eschalot.
Stracciatella, Oxheart Tomato, "Puttanesca", Basil
Life aims: I would like to always have some stracciatella in my fridge so I would never be far away from milky, cheesy goodness. If you're a fan of the gooey, stringy, melting strands of the innards of a burrata (and who isn't really?) then this is your sort of dish. Alex explains that the puttanesca is in the form of the 'furikake' crumb with puffed risotto rice, fried basil, fried capers, dried black olives, nori and roasted sesame while the dressing is made with a touch of anchovy garum (like a fish sauce). This serves the purpose of seasoning the tomatoes and cheese and the dominant flavour is of the black olives.
Marron $65 extra
The marron is an optional course and uses Live WA Marron and was inspired by a Singaporean pepper crab dish that Alex ate at JB Ah Meng in Singapore. The marron is cooked over charcoal and served with a sauce is made with eschallot, garlic, black pepper, Sichuan peppercorn and dry sake and then emulsified with lardo (Italian cured pork fat) and chicken stock. The result is tender marron with a luscious, full flavoured, velvety textured sauce. Perfect for scarpetta (yep we asked for extra bread).
Ink Tagliatelle, King Prawns, Zucchini, LULU's Nduja Chilli Oil
The house rolled squid ink tagliatelle features Monica's Lulu's Remedy Nduja chilli oil and chopped up pieces of king prawns and zucchini flowers. The fresh tagliatelle has a good bitey texture without being too soft and the chilli oil adds a garlicky, slightly smokey goodness to the dish. By now we're both getting very full.
Emilio's Butchery Dry Aged Beef Rump "Tagliata", Salsa Rossa, Beef Fat and Rocket
Then out comes the main course: the dry aged beef rump Tagliata. Tagliata is the name of a steak dish that is served sliced up. This dry aged beef rump is cooked medium (I would have loved medium rare) with a salsa rossa and dressed rocket leaves on the side. The salsa rossa is strong with roasted capsicum flavour and goes well with the beef. They also use a mix of dry aged beef fat whipped with garlic butter over the steak.
Melone e Grappa
The Melone e Grappa is a surprise with its flavour like a melon sour candy. The honeydew is compressed for 8 hours in a syrup of shiso and aged grappa and then sprinkled in a 'sherbet' made from dried plum powder that gives it that sour quality. It's good as a palate cleanser.
"Pino Colada" Panna Cotta
The Pino Colada panna cotta is next. Monica isn't a big fan of overly sweet sweets so this lightly sweet dessert is perfect for her. It's a wobbly spiced coconut pannacotta, pineapple granita, Plantation Stiggins Rum syrup, roasted pineapple and lemon thyme. And the spelling of Pino instead of Pina was a deliberate one referencing older Italian men called Pino.
Torta Caprese, Miso Caramel, Burnt Vanilla
While the last of the meal is savoured with bites of torta caprese, a rich chocolate cake with a side of miso caramel and a burnt vanilla ice cream. The miso caramel is particularly good with the cake with its thick, lusciousness and salty hit.
So tell me Dear Reader, is there a fusion of cuisines that you think works well together?
This meal was independently paid for.
Mannaggia a Trois