Short of arriving by gondola driven by a sexy Italian man in a striped shirt, Secret Foodies event Venetian Nights was about as Venetian as it gets south of the Equator. In the early fourteenth century, Venice was one of the richest cities in Europe, and we brought that back for a night with rich, diverse and beautiful Italian food suited to the finest of palates and the most adventurous of foodies.

La Scala has been in Paddington for years, but Massimo Mele made like Napoleon in 1797 and took over at the beginning of this year. Unlike Napoleon however, the restaurant has flourishing under Mele’s leadership. We dined in the beautiful private dining room, seating twenty-six people comfortably and indulging in Mele’s Venetian cuisine to our heart’s content.

We were greeted with an Aperol Spritz on arrival, and then the Antipasti course was served; a three-dish delight.

The Primi was a delicious Pasta e Fagioli; a dish that was originally a peasant soup, but there was nothing peasant-like about this filling, crowd-pleasing dish.

The highlight of Mele’s meal was the Main; the lamb was so tender and juicy that it simply fell off the bone, and the rich, simple flavours truly evoked Venice for the diners.

The Tiramisu for dessert really brought everyone home to Italy; Mele’s recipe was ‘created in Veneto and perfected in Campania’.

2013 Calabria Pinot Bianco and 2010 Calabria Aglianico flowed for the night, complementing the whole experience and making everyone feel like slightly tipsy Italian royalty. And it’s safe to say that Mele became a bit of a celebrity that night.