Saturday, June 24, 2017

Tutto Bene Risotto Masterclass by Foghorn Leghorn

Tutto Bene has been in business for at least 12 years. On a busy night it dishes up around 140 serves of risotto. With that kind of track record, the people at Tutto Bene know something about risotto, and they’ve decided to share it with the rest of us at Risotto Masterclass.

Risi e bisi

It’s fairly simple. You turn up just before dinner, head chef Nathan Scarfo shows you in detail how to make risotto, and then you sit down for some delicious food and a glass of wine. You don’t actually do any cooking, but you can learn quite a bit.

Our masterclass got off to a slightly slow start, with only half the chairs full. But when I looked around 10 minutes later, every chair was taken, and the latecomers didn’t have the best seats. So the lesson is clear: arrive on time.

Nathan started off by explaining how different types of rice can affect the risotto. It turns out that the commonly used Arborio is not the best choice. Firstly, it’s a bit too polished, and secondly, its starch content is not the highest. The favourite type of rice at Tutto Bene is Vialone Nano, which comes from Verona province in the Veneto region. During the class, we got to compare Arborio risotto with Nano risotto, and there really is a difference.

Simplicity is key: Nathan emphasised that a risotto should have only three key ingredients which play off each other.

I won’t go into all the details of what we learnt (that’s why you should attend the class), but there were some interesting points.

At the start of the process, Nathan added fennel seeds into the frying pan, and heated them up to release the flavour. The rice was also heated up to “crack” it, or release the starch. Nathan’s tip is to heat it to the point where it’s too hot to touch with the back of your hand. Finally, the test of a good risotto is whether it has the “onda”, or wave-like motion, when it’s poured onto the plate. Nathan’s did, of course.

Head chef Nathan Scarfo (L)

Be prepared for a fairly high-energy class. Nathan never stops moving, so I only managed to get one photo where his face wasn’t smudged by movement. But he’s happy to take questions, so don’t be scared to interrupt his flow and ask.

Afterwards we sat down for an entrée of risotto-stuffed squid, and a main course of risi e bisi, or pea risotto.

I’ve had a variant of the stuffed squid once before, and the dish is still excellent. How they get the squid so soft and juicy is a mystery to me. The filling is flavourful, and the chilli sauce is a nice touch.

During the class, Nathan had showed us how to make risi e bisi, so it was interesting to eat the final result (see first pic). The pea flavour really came through, and the peas were still nice and crunchy, since they were added at the end of the process. The flavour is enhanced with pea puree, and the dish also benefits from pancetta and two types of onion. The other ingredients complement the peas, but it’s clear that peas are the main game.

The food was accompanied by Valpolicella wine, which, like the rice, comes from the Veneto region. Mrs Leghorn was surprised to hear that there is wine around Venice, but a quick glance at Wikipedia establishes that the Veneto region extends all the way from the sea to the Austrian border, so there’s plenty of room in there for vineyards.

The beautiful view from Tutto Bene at night


The whole package, masterclass and meal, costs $75. That’s comparable to the cost of a meal at Tutto Bene, so in that sense it’s a good deal. It’s still not cheap, of course. However, I don’t know of anywhere in Melbourne that does better risotto than Tutto Bene. If I’m going to spend $75 on learning about (and eating) risotto, this is where I’ll spend it. Oh, and at the end you get a recipe, and a package of Vialone Nano rice.

The Eat and Be Merry Crew were guests of Tutto Bene.

Find it at

Tutto Bene
Southgate Melbourne
M28/3 Southgate Avenue
Southbank VIC 3006
Phone: (03) 9696 3334

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