Etica's lunches are a rarity. Owners Federico and Melissa Pisanelli open during the day only on the last Friday of every month, so this sixth instalment of the lunchtime pasta guide is both review and call to action.
City pasta guide: Etica
“Every night it’s just like a big family. It’s not like coming to work at all,” says Federico Pisanelli.
Visit Etica at 125 Gilles Street, Adelaide.
He and wife Melissa have maintained this kind of genuine enthusiasm for running restaurant Etica since they opened it on Gilles Street in 2012. And while the smell of the wood oven and the warm design of the small interior here are good, it’s still Fed and Mel’s welcome that makes the strongest first impression upon arrival.
Offering a small menu that changes weekly, a close relationship with customers is almost essential to help regulars and new customers navigate the endless changes in offering.
And while the pizza side of the menu does tend to feature at least a few familiar dishes and is limited by a strict adherence to Napoletana traditions, the pasta dishes are allowed to stray into more adventurous territory.
Overseen by chef Violette Flint, this week’s pasta is built around two key ingredients – the in-season beetroot and a house-made pancetta that Federico has just finished curing.
Meat is not a huge element of Etica’s menu, as the restaurant will only use animals that have been killed ethically and raised outside of a factory farm environment. But Federico has taken care with his pancetta – resting it in a sugar and salt crust in a fridge for two weeks before hanging it for a further two.
Violette uses melted fat from the cut as the base for her pasta, and adds butter, balsamic and walnuts before tossing through hand-made potato gnocchi. Fresh and dehydrated beetroot slices and a sparsely-applied gorgonzola, brown butter and juniper berry (because as Violette says, “pancetta and juniper berry are great together”) infused béchamel, as well as some panfried slices of pancetta finish the dish.
Served out in the courtyard, where Chloe the dog waits to ask for scraps, the first bite of the gnocchi is surprising. The complexity and balance of flavours is more like something to be expected from a main course on a modern menu, but with each bite it seems more addictive. The balsamic used in the base of the dish is its genius – offering a zest that perfectly counteracts the richness of the pancetta fat and gorgonzola.
The flavours are good, but the texture of the gnocchi is even better – it’s silken rather than fluffy, and has no doughiness about it – requiring almost no chewing.
It’s an interesting and delicious dish, and one that won’t be on the menu for long. Not only that, this Friday is the only day Etica will be open at lunchtime for a whole month, so it’s certainly worth a long lunch.