Ahh, the joy of finding a great new restaurant within walking distance of home.
Colle Rosso, which is Italian for Red Hill, ticks all my boxes. Well priced, flavoursome, authentic Italian food, made and served with love.
This 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 was filled with plenty of locals dining as couples but also larger groups sporting distinct Italian accents.
David and Marco head up the kitchen drawing on their previous experience as head chefs at Portside’s Gusto Da Gianni and five-star hotels in Switzerland, London and Europe where they regularly cooked for royalty.
The menu is filled with traditional Italian classics including 12 varieties of Roman-style wood-fired pizza such as Calzone Colle Rosso, a wide range of pastas with a popular favourite of Gnocchi con Gamberi e Zucchini and Tiramisu straight from Nonna’s personal cook book.
“We are proud of our traditional menu, all of the food is prepared and served just as we did when we lived and worked in Italy,” David Ruggiero said.
“Many of the recipes are our mothers and grandmothers; we have chosen our favourite traditional foods to share with our customers.
“Even our wine list has our favourite Italian wines and spirits as well as Australian favourites,” he said.
The restaurant sits in the site of a previous fine-dining Italian restaurant, Biagio and while the style of cuisine is the same, the similarities end there.
“We wanted a clean slate with Colle Rosso, we have changed everything from the colour of the walls which we painted a rustic red and adorned with family relics and photos from Italy to the lighting and of course the family-friendly menu,” said head chef David Ruggiero.
I sampled their Christmas lunch menu which included some top picks from the menu starting with a classic bruscetta with a simple combo of fresh diced tomato and basil bursting with flavour.
The crisp pizza base with rosemary and garlic topping was so moreish I could hardly stop at one but make sure you keep some aside to mop up the delicious cherry tomato Napoli sauce that comes with the giant sized ravioli filled with fresh ricotta and spinach.
Our mains were a crispy skin pork belly with potato gratin and a barramundi fillet with olive crust and fennel cream. The barra crust was crisp and light with not a hint of the muddiness that plagues some barra. The pork belly was so deliciously crisp and tender with the potato gratin worth ordering on its own for its cheese flirt and affair with thyme.
Wafer thin slices of tender veal with intense sauce made for a perfect Saltimbocca.
The oh-so-light pannetone was studded with orange peel and raisins and filled with a lux strawberry mouse and ice cream.
We finished the night with a digestive that appeared ice cold from the freezer.
Bottom line: Up there amongst the best Italian for price, taste and value in Brisbane.
Best tip: Try the take-away pizza and pasta options and it's open seven days.
More great Italian in Brisbane -Popolo South Bank
Tartufo Fortitude Valley
Gallery One, Carindale
Disclaimer: Ed+bK and partner were guests of Colle Rosso.