The best Italian retro classics over 50 years

For over 50 years Giardinetto in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley has been serving the sort of hearty Italian food that's now regarded as retro classics.

I'm talking Nona-style food such as hearty spaghetti marinara, traditional meat lasagne and garlic prawns.

If you remember when you could buy a large margarita pizza for $1.60 and a fillet mignon was $2.60, you probably ate there in the 1970s when the Valley started to gain its reputation as Brisbane's night life centre.  Along with some of Brisbane's best nightclubs and bars, it also gained more than a few brothels and a notorious reputation.

Giardinetto's traditional veal schintzel served on spaghetti bolognese (added in 1966)
Giardinetto's traditional veal schintzel served on spaghetti bolognese (added in 1966)

Giardinetto's special retro menu celebrates 50 years of Italian food and is crammed full of memories along with some of the newer favourites including crumbed, fried arancini filled with parmesan and mozalla (added in 2005), fried polenta with a blue cheese dipping sauce (added in 2010) and risotto (added in 2000).

But it's the spaghetti marinara with with its napoletana sauce filled with prawns, mussels and calamari (added in 1969), and tender braised beef shank osso bucco (circa 1972)  that remind me of my early meals here.

The retro black and white tiled tabletops date from Giardinetto's earliest years.
The retro black and white tiled tabletops date from Giardinetto's earliest years.

The black and white tiled tabletops are survivors from the restaurants earliest days and were  renovated to bring them back to pristine condition.

Just a little cheesey pizza to start.

When it comes to dessert the choices of panna cotta, cassata or chocolate cake made with almond meal are so tempting, but who can resist tiramisu?  Certainly not me and when it arrives I'm glad we are sharing this overly large but delicious concoction of sponge soaked in coffee liqueur and espresso coffee, layered with mascarpone cheese.

Tiramisu, a retro classic at Giardinetto.
Tiramisu, a retro classic at Giardinetto.

Giarnetto is located in busy Brunswick Street, on the New Farm side of the mall.  In addition to the front dining section, there's a large garden courtyard at the rear.

Bottom line:  **** out of 5 stars for classic food with tradition and longevity
Best tip: Go hungry.
Bottom line:  Anitpasto $16, Pasta $22, Pizza $22, Dessert $12.

Disclaimer:  Ed+bK was a guest of Giardinetto.

Giardinetto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


How to relax with a massage before you fly

Start your holiday with a massage before you fly at Brisbane International Airport's new Plaza Premium Lounge.

Along with honeycomb seating, plenty of electrical outlets and complimentary Wi-Fi access, Plaza Premium Lounge also a separate spa facility. Scheduled for opening in the second half of 2016, the spa’s menu will include seated massage, plus head and shoulder massage.

You'll need to adjust your pre-departure buffer allowance to allow extra spa massage time!

Operated by the world’s largest independent airport lounge network, Plaza Premium Lounge has made Brisbane's International Airport a whole lot more comfortable.

The sleek lounge design combines rustic wooden features with modern structures and fine materials. There are stacked wooden lamps and rattan swing chairs look as though they have been plucked straight from the pages of a decorator magazine.

The individual workstations provide a compact, but comfortable workstation area, and there are comfortable lounge chairs with a big screen view of the airport's activity.

Just like you’ll find at airport lounges operated by major airlines, there’s buffet dining where you can eat your fill of a good selection of Asian and Italian food with plenty of extras.

If you are looking for a comfortable place to hang out between or before flights, have breakfast, lunch or dinner, catch up with the latest newspapers or on television or recharge your phone, this lounge has got something for you.

I can imagine arriving early for my next international departure and slipping in for a massage and a meal before I jet off. Sounds like a nice way to start a holiday.

You find the lounge on level 4 at the International Terminal, just up the escalators.

Bottom line: A five-hour package costs $66.  It’s simple to book entry online

Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest at the opening of the lounge.