Eat, drink and be merry Ben Bayly-style with these exclusive-to-Style recipes from the top chef’s latest South Island venture.
Following on from the success of celebrated Kiwi chef Ben Bayly’s southern enterprise Aosta, Arrowtown
has been treated to a second delicious offering in the form of “bambino”, Little Aosta, a family-friendly, fast-paced trattoria offering dine-in and takeaway options for locals and visitors alike.
The cuisine of both eateries is inspired by Northern Italian cooking techniques paired with ingredients from Aotearoa’s south. The namesake city of Aosta is in an alpine valley near the meeting point of the Italian, French and Swiss Alps, where Ben lived and cooked for four years in the area as a young chef, and which shares similar latitude, elevation, climate, flora, fauna and soil characteristics with Central Otago’s Southern Alps.
It was during his time in the region that Ben’s love of Italian cooking was born, and his Arrowtown eateries fuse that inspiration with almost exclusively local products and produce from selected growers, fishermen, hunters, foragers and other suppliers.
Ben says he and his family have fallen in love with Arrowtown, and bringing the Little Aosta concept to life
had been on his mind since opening Aosta three years ago.
“I wanted a casual, fun and chaotic little Italian place that complemented Aosta well – a place that was focused on simple, delish Italian food with zero faff,” he says.
The menu is designed to bring the magic of an authentic multi-generational Italian home into the heart
of Arrowtown and capture the essence of pared-back Northern Italian food.
“Look for great cuts seared over the wood-fired grill and sourdough pizzettas out of the wood-fired pizza oven, paired with interesting, entertaining and affordable wines by the carafe,” says Ben.
Designed for sharing, the menu also has a sense of fun that will appeal to the young and young at heart – with dishes such as polpette (Italian meatballs), organic fritto misto (Italian chicken nuggets) and a Havoc ham and woodfired pineapple pizzetta that’s sure to be a talking point.
This is a beautiful venison polpette (meatball) recipe. Using pork in two forms, we add fat back into the lean meat of the deer, which will keep it moist during the cooking process, adding more flavour to complement the venison. The polpette pairs perfectly with a tomato sugo (sauce), as the acidity from the sugo complements the richness of the meatball. This recipe can be made gluten-free by simply removing the bread and the milk.
• ½ loaf of white sandwich bread
• 250ml milk (any kind is fine)
• 150g sliced pancetta, diced
• 250g diced onion
• 8 garlic cloves, diced
• 1kg venison mince
• 250g pork mince
• 100g Italian parsley, picked from
the stem and chopped, keeping
the stems for the sugo
• 20g salt
• 10g white pepper
• 500g cherry tomatoes
• 30g fresh basil
• Parsley stems (these come
from the recipe for the polpette
• 100ml extra virgin olive oil
• 20g salt
For dessert, who can go past a classic panna cotta – creamy but light with the spices in the apples adding a whole new depth and the crunch from the hazelnuts giving texture. This recipe provides
surplus apple compote, perfect for your morning cereal!
• 2 sheets gelatine
• 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
• 150ml milk
• 400ml cream
• 80g white sugar
• 4 crisp apples, chopped
• 140ml orange juice
• 70g brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon powder
• ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
• 2 tablespoons butter
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 100g toasted and crushed hazelnuts
Recipes by Ben Bayly and Steve Sepsy