When it comes to Italian cooking, it’s good to learn from the best. And who better to learn from, than one of the best in the business, Olimpia Bortolotto, matriarch of one of Melbourne’s best Italian restaurants, Cecconi’s Flinders Lane. Launching her cookbook, La Tavola Della Famiglia, filled with her favourite Italian recipes, the book takes us on a journey through her life and the food that has shaped that journey.
We sat down with Olimpia to ask her a few questions about her book and her life.
Congratulations on your beautiful cookbook, La Tavola Della Famiglia. Do you have any advice for home cooks?

Simplicity in cooking is close to perfection.

As my friend and colleague Ronnie Distastio says “the main ingredient in Italian cooking is Restraint”

la tavola
Do you have a favourite recipe in the book? A real go-to recipe?

My favourite – Pappardelle with fresh tomato and basil, best when tomatoes are in season, easy quick 10 minute meal…

(If you haven’t got time for fresh pasta use the Rustichella d’abruzzo, Artisan dry pasta)


We love Italian fare here in Australia. How has she seen the landscape change over the years for Italian cuisine?

The typical Australian menu in the mid 1900’s was a shock to the European migrants who were coming here in increasing numbers.

Naturally the foods they grew and prepared reflected their traditions.

The first Italian restaurants were generic Pizza and Pasta, over the 40 years people have realised that Italian cuisine is healthy & all about fresh, and great ingredients. The diversity nowadays is remarkable.

While today they call it foraging, but my mother and I were doing this 40 years ago, picking wild fennel and wild spinach from the paddocks.

Now Italian restaurants are defined by their regional cooking…

From your book, what are your top recipes for Winter?

Osso Buco and Safron Risotto, a wonderful slow cooked Osso Buco in a rich sauce on a safron risotto.

Abbacchio alla Romana, a beautiful braised baby goat Romana style.

Cotechino with lentil braise, a special Italian cured sausage with braised lentil.


Olimpia shares her recipe for Osso Buco and Saffron Risotto for you to try at home this Winter!


Osso Buco and saffron risotto



100 grams plain flour

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 kg veal osso buco

1 cup vegetable oil

½ cup olive oil

2 onions, finely diced

2 carrots, finely diced

2 celery stalks, finely diced

1 tablespoon garlic, crushed

6 anchovies

zest of 1 lemon

1 bottle red wine

1 kg tinned crushed tomatoes

2 litres chicken stock

salt and pepper



Combine the flour and paprika, then lightly dust the osso buco in the flour mixture.


Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and seal the meat. Remove osso buco and drain the hot oil.

Add olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, anchovies and lemon zest, and sweat down for 10 minutes. Add the red wine and reduce by 2/3, then add tinned tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.


Return osso buco to the pan and simmer gently, covered, for 2 hours, until meat is tender and sauce has reduced. Season to taste and serve with saffron risotto

About The Author

Katherine Ng

Katherine is not your typical Beauty Editor. Finance consultant by day and beauty and fashion addict at all other times, Katherine spends her hard-earned money helping the Australian and international economy with her never ending pursuit of everything pretty. A keen traveller, Katherine still holds dear her Melbourne roots with an overflowing wardrobe filled with black clothes, shoes and handbags. Katherine also has a deep love of food and wine, and you can find those adventures on instagram at @thegreedykat Email: kath@couturing.com Twitter: @kath_couturing Instagram: @kath_ng

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.