Skip to main content

Best of Brisbane's Italian

Just like a big mama who wraps you in her arms and plants a kiss on your cheek, Italian food is full of flavour and deeply satisfying to the soul. 

My first memory of eating Italian in Brisbane was as a child dining out with my parents at a place called Mamma Lugi’s.  I remember sitting at long trestle tables in what felt like the backyard of someone’s house in Spring Hill.  The tables would be overfilled with huge bowls of spaghetti and salads. It was the early 70s and this was adventurous dining for Brisbane.

My mother tells me that in Brisbane’s early restaurant days there were many more French than Italian restaurants. Do you remember any others from the old days?

Italian migration to Brisbane has not been as strong as in southern states but we’ve still had our fair share of new comers opening a restaurant to share their recipes and food from home.

From the accented kitchen banter to the family memorabilia on the walls, the Italian roots at New Farm’s Dell Ugo shine strongly with generations of the Robertiello family in charge. Expect tender braised baby octopus, melt-in-the-mouth potato gnocchi with smoked mushrooms, slowly braised lamb shank with mash and plenty of tiramisu or pannacotta.

Also at New Farm, The Vine is another family run establishment with plenty of traditional favourites on the menu. Their amazingly tender gnocchi sticks in my memory.

Traditional Italian interpreted with style stars on Vio’s menu at Paddington. Head Chef Fabio Moranti picks produce daily from the markets for treats including asparagus with truffle pecorino zabaglione or wild boar sourced from the Granite Belt with a cocoa ragu and toasted chestnut. Finish with a Moscato poached pear.

The process of Italians moving to Brisbane and opening a restaurant is still happening today.
Colle Rosso, a traditional family trattoria which opened late last year, is owned and operated by two couples - David and Laura (both from Rome) and Marco (from Sardinia) and Lisa (a Brisbane local of Italian heritage), who together have more than 30 years of experience in hospitality.

Busy even mid-week, the restaurant is often filled with locals dining as couples but also larger groups sporting distinct Italian accents.

Colle Rosso, is Italian for Red Hill, and ticks all my boxes with its well-priced, flavoursome, authentic Italian food made and served with love.

While Italian cuisine is steeped in tradition, there’s nothing stopping experimentation at Italian themed restaurants in Brisbane and the results are mouth-watering.

Modern Italian rules at Bucci with interpretations of the traditional that would make any Nona proud. New on the scene, Bucci has established a strong following with ease and it’s not hard to work out why. Think porcini and field mushroom risotto balls filled with taleggio; marinated 24-36 month old parmigiano reggiano with lemon thyme honey, balsamic and grissini or crispy Bangalow pork belly salad, apples, hazelnuts and garden greens.

Today Italian doesn’t always equal pasta and if you’re eager for a pasta pig out, Popolo will leave you wanting.  This Italian restaurant shies away from pasta to deliver a menu filled with meatballs, gnocchi, oh-so-tender suckling pig, thin pizza and a fig and frangipane tart with vanilla marscapone to finish. It’s delish food with a kick ass river view.

And who would have believed that Westfield Carindale would be the perfect home for a slick new Italian restaurant with a $1.5 million fit out? Enter Tony Di Vincenzo, a first generation Aussie with a passion for great food and shared dining and gun chef Trent Robson, ex Pier Nine, 1899 Enoteca, Belle Epoque and Pescatore with Gallery One, a restaurant concept that could have been lifted from any of Brisbane's innovative restaurant dining precincts.

Here you’ll find authentic Italian cuisine and crisp based pizzas plus a six metre long refrigerated cabinet groaning with pasticceria, tortes and patiserrie ready to go or served with a cappuccino made with their own hand crafted special blend of quality Arabica beans. 

The chef’s table is another new way to enjoy the Italian meal experience. Ever wondered what it would be like to dine at a chef's home, sitting at their table to enjoy whatever they felt like cooking on the night?

Instead of agonising over menu choices you would be free to enjoy conversation while food flows to the table on share plates for everyone to pass around and taste.

Now just change the location and put your dinner party in Tartufo for Tony Peruoco's Chef's Table and you have a matching experience. Tony is your host for the night, inquiring whether you have any dietary issues or preferences and checking how the night is going as you progress through the courses.

He cooks the food he grew up with, using seasonally fresh local produce except for the Italian olives and parmesan cheese which says Australians just don't make with the same flavours.

Expect arancini balls made to Tony's mother's recipe, local calamari flash fried for five minutes, braised veal that was his childhood favourite and other recipes gleefully stolen from his brother.

One of the best things about this chef's table is the food just keeps coming.  Tony has set the price at $50 per person with a minimum of six people to a table.  It looks pretty good value to me.

Take your taste buds on trip through Italy’s cobblestone alleyways with dishes that delight from these Brisbane restaurants as well:

•    Il Centro, CBD
•    Mario at the Diningroom, Hendra
•    Mariosarti, Toowong
•    Il Posto, Paddinton
•    Grappino, Paddington
•    Bar Alto, New Farm
•    1889 Enoteca, Wooloongabba
•    Gusto da Gianni, Portside

Plus my Facebook followers love these additional Brisbane Italian restaurants

Beccofino, Teneriffe
Paolo’s, Suncorp Stadium, Paddington
Viale Canova, Clayfield
Marina, Paddington
Gerties, New Farm
The Rustic Olive, Redcliffe

Disclaimer:  Ed+bK has eaten at some of these restaurants as a guest.  Full disclosure details are included on individual blog posts.


  1. Viale Cannova is my all-time favourite. Wonderful service and fantastic food. I could eat Italian every night if my body could handle it!

    Great wrap-up Kerry!

  2. I really love Italian restaurants. The taste of their food is great.

  3. Anonymous4:38 pm

    Paolo's at Suncorp Stadium has been gone for about 12 months. I would like to know if Paulo has opened elsewhere, because I was totally addicted to his seafood cartuccio linguine.


Post a Comment

I love getting your comments - really makes my day! If you like this blog please follow by email or subscribe.

Popular posts from this blog

Brisbane's top 10 'chew with a view' restaurants and cafes

It's a beautiful day! Where can you go and dine in the warm sun with a view that you'll never want to leave?

Here are ten top places in and around Brisbane to while away a lunch hour or a whole afternoon when the weather is warm and the skies are blue .

River Quay, South Bank

South Bank’s River Quay precinct has plenty of opportunities to relax in the sunshine and just about any restaurant at River Quay will offer a great spot for a winter lunch with a large, grassed lawn rolling down to the river bank.  You can even lie in the sun if you so desire.

Stop for champagne, oysters and more at Cove Bar and Dining, enjoy French provincial food at Aquitaine Brasserie, take in the river view from a Balinese daybed while you tuck into the contemporary menu at The Jetty, feast on Italian cuisine at Popolo or sip a long drink on the riverside deck of Stokehouse Q where the menu draws on local produce combined with bold flavours from the Mediterranean.

River Quay is the spot for Sunday …

Thar she blows - how to hunt whales the friendly way

A grunt and a spurt of seawater rising into the air show the position of a mother humpback whale and her three-week-old calf.

I'm on purpose-designed whale watching boat and we have motored for an hour over the calm seas of the great sandy straits up the coastline of Fraser Island

Captain Phil tells the 50 or so people aboard that the tip of the island is where we will see the whales and he is right.

Our first mother and calf are a little shy at first, keeping the boat at a good distance but I can clearly see the much smaller calf swimming strongly beside its mother.

I'm fascinated by the large circles of calm water that float past us and Phil tells us these are whale footprints

"They break the water tension when they flick their tails to swim down resulting in the clear circles on the water,” Phil says.

Sailors used whale footprints to track whales back in the bad old days when whales were valued more for their blubber than their beauty.

Our next mother and calf are a l…

Lunch amongst the lavender in the Scenic Rim

It was time to brush the cobwebs off the motor bike over Easter and head out of Brisbane into the beautiful Scenic Rim.

We started down the highway towards Beenleigh in beautiful autumn sunshine and stopped for a coffee at The Outpost Cafe at Canungra.  This is a well known bikies hangout but don't expect too much in the way of chains and dreadlocks - it's more favoured by the middle aged bikie enjoying the freedom of the road second time round.

The road less travelled is always our favoured route for this type of outing and we back tracked through Rathdowney before reaching our destination for the day, Kooroomba Lavender Farm about 65 minutes from Brisbane in the Scenic Rim at Mt Alford near Boonah.

Autumn is not the premium time for viewing either the vineyard or the lavender but the view across the valley to the mountains was still outstanding.  The building has a New Zealand lodge feel to it with plenty of stone walls both inside and outside, complimented by timber and ex…

Ten top things to do in Noosa Heads

It doesn't matter how many times I head down the hill on Noosa Drive towards the ocean, I still get a little shiver of excitement every time. This very special part of the world has achieved international recognition for its unique environment and I am privileged to be able to dip my toes into it on a regular basis.

Here are ten of my favourite Noosa pastimes.

1. Although it’s always tempting to sleep in, I don't like to waste a moment of the day when I wake up in Noosa. The best way to start is in the coffee queue at Sails on Hastings Street and then a stroll along the winding boardwalk to the National Park, koala spotting along the way.

Depending on my mood and energy level, I continue the walk through the park to enjoy the beachside views. Some like to run it. You can pick up a coffee at the information hut in the national park as well.

2. After a bit of exercise there's nothing like a big breakie at Aromas and a spot of people watching. With t…

Lots to explore at Brisbane's South Bank

Four markets in one day - what a way to spend a Sunday!

We started at the organic markets at Downy Park, Windsor which was not such a good idea. Why? Well we took the dog and the place was full of puddles - he's a corgi with very low legs - it all ended up being very messy.

Also, these markets definitely finish up on their advertised closing time of 10.30am.  Call me slow or just plain lazy but I find it hard to get out and about early on a Sunday morning. We arrived primed for breakfast at 10am just as everyone was shutting up - they had even run out of bread for French toast!

However, this market was just the first on our list. Next, we drove to South Bank Parklands to explore the Young Designers Market and the Granite Belt Flavours Market - both on the same day.

Several designer/clothes/jewellery purchases later, K2 subdued his inner male and agreed to look for the Granite Belt Flavours market which was not in its usual spot.  On the way, we walked through the regular South Ba…

A night of firsts at Urbane

It was a night of firsts - my first duck tongue and my first lamb sweetbreads.

I've always avoided offal, scarred by an unfortunate experience as a child when my mother tried to make me eat liver, but as Ubane owner Andrew Buchanan said, best to try it first cooked by a great chef - so I did.

Seated at a long table we were there to experience the new Urbane menu under Alejandro Cancino. He looks like he's just out of short pants, but this chef has a list of restaurants and awards on his resume that demand attention.

Passionate about fine dining, Argentinian-born Alejandro has spent the last 10 years working with some of the best chefs in the world, naming the great chef and innovator Andoni Luis Aduriz at Mugaritz in Spain, Luca Fantin at Bulgari Tokyo and Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in England as his mentors. In Australia, he calls Dan Hunter at the Royal Mail in Victoria his local guide, having worked together at Mugaritz.

Last April Alejandro was Stagie…

North Stradbroke Island - 10 top things to do

One of the largest sand islands in the world, the relaxed bliss of North Stradbroke Island is only an hour's drive from Brisbane.

The trip from the mainland to the island takes 45 minutes by barge, which also takes your car or 25 minutes by fast water taxi but it's more of a journey into a different realm where it's hard to work up the energy to get stressed about anything.

When there's plenty of beach to roam, friendly folk to chat with, incredible vistas around every corner and comfortable accommodation and food, life seems pretty sweet.

Apart from swimming at any of the beaches, here are my top 10 things to do on Straddie. What are yours? Please leave your Straddie tips in the comments section at the end.

1. Start your Straddie sojourn at the Island Fruit Barn on the main drag in Dunwich where you can pick up all your holiday supplies.  There's a surprisingly good range of deli items from the essential to the unusual, high-quality fruit and good cake and coffee…

10 top tips for Bunya Mountains weekend

With a long weekend looming we clocked off early on Friday to head to the Bunya Mountains, home to the world's largest stand of bunya trees and more nature and wildlife than your eyes can absorb.

It's about 150km from Brisbane, and as we prefer to travel in daylight hours on the motorbike, a 2 pm departure was planned.  Unfortunately, with a few stops along the way to meet up with group members, road works and a speeding fine (you know who you are) from a friendly copper, it was dark and raining when we hit the last 30 minutes of the ride and a dirt/gravel stretch. The boys were not happy, and it was a slow procession to our accommodation.

Our group of four couples was staying in two side-by-side cottages in the small village in the middle of the national park.  There is also a camping ground in the same spot and a couple of others close by. Despite popular opinion, I like to camp and have camped here before, but on a motorbike, it's easier to stay in accommodation.


Have you been to Queensland’s favourite café?

Once you’ve eaten at Indulge in Bundaberg, it comes as no surprise that this small cafe has been voted as Queensland’s favourite.

Now taking the title for two years in a row as People’s Choice in the Brisbane Times Good Food Awards, Indulge is a showcase for the Bundaberg region’s fabulous produce.

Established by passionate food lovers Amanda and Larry Hinds, this café has been the catalyst that has propelled local farmers into the spotlight as premium primary producers.

Amanda is adamant that it’s the rich red tomatoes, the full-flavoured potatoes, the crisp capsicums, luscious eggplants and the vibrant ginger, that make all the different to the meals she dishes up to eager crowds.

As Amanda says, there’s something very special about knowing where your food comes from and who grew it.

I clearly remember my first meal at Indulge. It was scrambled eggs dusted with thinly sliced truffle and anointed with duck ham. My first taste of duck ham, I was fascinated with the flavour and eager …

Next Door Kitchen and Bar, South Bank, Brisbane.

The line up of restaurants at South Bank just keeps getting better with Next Door Kitchen and Bar as the latest addition in Little Stanley Street.

Styled on speakeasy establishments of the 1920s, Next Door has positioned itself as a cocktail bar with an emphasis on shared dining. The fit out is glamorous fit-out with smooth timber, vintage décor and mirror detailing.

Harun Gencerler, a member of the family which runs Ahmet's Turkish Restaurant right next door, has opened Next Door Kitchen as his first solo venture.

Head Chef Dean Brewer has selected a range of shared plates which tie in with the 1920s theme.

“Our menu consists of larger shared plates such as whisky beef cheeks, with creamed blue cheese polenta and smaller dishes including fresh oysters, with gin and cracked pepper vinaigrette,” Deans says.

We started the night with a fresh baguette and a combo of Pepe Saya Butter and house made sardine butter.  I loved both but I needed more bread to enjoy all the butter.

Our sha…