We began with the carpaccio di manzo: elegant slivers of thinly-sliced beef, fried capers, Parmesan, and lemon. The capers added a crispy, dry brininess that complimented the dish’s hint of pepper — it was light and subtle, the meal’s perfect prologue.
I opted for the fish of the day, a barramundi served with charred zucchini, pepperonata, watercress, and a drizzle of lemon.
Though the dishes cover the spectrum of Italian fare, they’re united by one common factor: simplicity. The chefs are confident in their ingredients and techniques, and rightly so: it was perhaps the most flavourful barramundi I’ve encountered, with perfectly crispy skin and tender, flaky flesh that melted in your mouth. Infused with the nuanced sweetness of the pepperonata, each bite was nuanced and complex. As our host said, “The boys in the kitchen know how to cook a fish.”
My partner ordered the linguini allo scoglio, a generous heaping of fresh seafood tied together with chili, garlic, and Italian parsley. We were too eager to eat to deduce exactly what seafood there was, but we noticed mussels, clams, octopus, and a white fish. He was loathe to share, but I managed to nab a bite of octopus — tender, rich, subtly flavoured with tomato and lemon.
Fear not: gluten-free eaters: you’ll be happily accommodated, with gluten-free pizza bases and pastas available, and almost all dishes can be made to meet allergy needs.
Not that I should need to tell you, but save room for dessert. The selection is tantalizing, a quandary to end your evening. We opted to split the cannoli, stuffed with Nutella custard and shaved almonds and paired with a generous heap of chocolate gelato. Another compliment to the chef: though it could have easily been too sweet, this was another dish that dabbled in subtlety. The chocolate wasn’t too rich, the Nutella — from the kitchen, not the jar — prioritized hazelnut over sugar. Like with the mains, you were left satisfied, rather than stuffed.
Service, although friendly and attentive, was a bit slow: our meal drew out to over two hours, although luckily the setting, nestling the river, the lights of Brisbane strung at your elbow, is perfect for a leisurely dinner. It’s an atmosphere conducive to a date or drinks with friends, especially during warmer weather.
Deciding what to order was difficult: deciding to come back was not. Before our meals were cleared away, we were already discussing what to get when we returned.
Read our review of Aria here.