D lived across the street from this gem for a year.
We were always going to get around to it, but it sorta looked sleepy from Sandgate Rd, perhaps as if it were closed half the time? So of course, the last night in his apartment before moving, we trundled over for an early Valentine's dinner. I put on a fancy dress, grabbed a bottle of red and a bottle of Mumm and headed over to the northside to meet him there.
Fancy a BYO restaurant, ACROSS THE STREET! No hefty booze bill OR taxi fare! Happy Valentines, indeed!
As soon as we ducked around the back to the entrance from the carpark, we were charmed. We saw there were a bunch of tables on an outdoor verandah, empty. So when we were ushered inside to the busy restaurant, I asked tentatively if we might sit outside. I hadn't noticed that the tables outside were not set, and felt a bit bad as our hosts obligingly set up a table for us, complete with beautiful crisp white linen tableclothes and napkins.
Massimo, (co-owner and maitre-d) brought out an ice bucket on a stand for our champagne and opened it with finesse. We felt immediately welcome and as if it were going to be a special evening. They brought out a little snack whilst we perused the menu and it was okay; some sort of seafood mousse on crouton. Massimo explained all the specials to us, of which there were many. I got overwhelmed with choice and yet remembered he mentioned something with truffle. Turns out it was the risotto of the day with18 different types of mushrooms, pecorino and truffle oil. Ding ding ding, we have a winner. I ordered some tomato bruschetta for us to share to begin, D ordered the Tasmanian mussels in garlicy tomato broth with homemade ciabatta to the side. The bruschetta was good, but the mussels were INSANE. I have dreamt of them many times since. I kept stabbing at his bowlwith the bread and spoons, alternately. Some of the best broth I have ever tasted. We'd go back just for mussels.
When the mains arrived, I had a hunch that I had won, although his looked good too. He'd ordered the squid ink gnocchi with scampi. Tasty, but nothing in this world came close to the risotto I had. Before I could even get my fork in, Massimo came with a kilo of parmesan in a linen napkin and grated it all over my plate. Impressive.
Urbanspoon serves up mixed reviews of Lorenzo's risotto; some saying their's was undercooked. I don't know if those reviewers were on drugs, or if Lorenzo was having a particularly good day when we were there, but it was nothing short of spectacular. Finished with cracked pepper and these rich, mushroomy (that's a word), oozey risotto was just the most beautiful thing. Stunning. I can barely wait to go back. Dessert round followed (ambitious, I was definitely full by this time) and I ordered a chocolate almond pudding (thinking it might be a bit like a caprese torte), and D ordered the tiramisu.
Well, if I won the mains, he defintely won the dessert. Mine was actually dry and borderline inedible, but we raved about the tiramisu so much that Massimo gave us another serve on the house! It wasn't gluggy, it wasn't dry, it was boozey and chocolatey and marscaponey and wonderful. I have never enjoyed one so much. Certainly beats the one at Vine Restaurant. Where's your favourite tiramisu in Brisbane? I hear Mario's at the Dining Room on Gerler Road does a killer one? I'm sure the man would love to do a Tour of Tiramisu!
We left insanely full, happy, and a bit drunk. At only $5 corkage per person, we'd happily polished off two bottles of wine with dinner and left having paid a bill of around $150: a bargain for how wonderful the overall evening was. Sure there were a few lows but the hospitality, the excellence of our favourite dishes and the ambience were enough to have us talking about it most days since, and searching for an excuse to go back. We are searching for birthdays, events and other excuses to go back and take all of our friends! If only D still lived across the road!
Update: We went again with another couple on a Saturday night two weeks ago. A really fun night, with a lot of great food but the service was really slow, as they were packed. We didn't mind, as we had lots to catch up on, and lots to drink (yay, BYO), but less patient diners would be advised to go on a weeknight. The gnocchis and risottos were the stars of our second trip (the prawn and pumpkin is pictured), whilst some of the other menu items were less spectacular. I'd ordered a seafood soup in hopes that it'd be similar to the amazing mussels we'd had the previous time, and was severely disappointed. Again, the only dessert worth eating is the tiramisu, still spectacular. So, take some bottles, some friends, and head on down on a weeknight for a carb-fuelled Italian frenzy!