Pasta Emilia in Sydney’s Surry Hills neighbourhood looks like the kitchen set from Under the Tuscan Sun. Beadboard shelves balance homemade sauces and stovetop espresso makers, while fragrant flowers, brimming produce baskets and cheery red chairs invite diners to stay for lunch (and then dinner). But the cafe, co-owned by Anna Maria Eoclidi – a native of the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy – truly transports guests with its dishes.

Pasta Emilia is well known for its handmade tortelli: large ravioli inspired by a family recipe that are stuffed with such seasonal combinations as beetroot and chevre, duck and truffles and tomato and basil. Other traditional plates include strozzapreti pasta tubes smothered in ragu. Just like she did in her home village, Eoclidi picks out the best organic flours, biodynamic produce and free-range eggs, and buys cream from a supplier that names its cows and uses glass-only packaging.

It’s the kind of sustainability you can taste. The cafe also gives back to Surry Hills by distributing its worm-devoured kitchen waste to community gardens, holding charity events and hosting regular pastamaking courses and workshops to further nourish guests and friends. Welcome to Famiglia Emilia – where one visit is never enough.

(Published in Peppermint in 2014)

Pasta Emilia, Peppermint, Serena Renner