UPDATE: Locanda is now closed. Head to 1889 Enotecha for a bit of the owner's magic.So I went to Locanda twice in 24 hours last week.
I love this place.
The guys from 1889 Enoteca in Wooloongabba own it, so you know the wine list is going to be extensive, potentially expensive, and delicious.
An 'Osteria' is an Italian restaurant, usually simple or inexpensive. Your local, if you will.
Now I'm not saying that Locanda is really either, but it is fab. And in true Italian style, each dish I've had there featured stellar ingredients and minimal fuss.
I first went to Locanda in October 2014 for my birthday, courtesy of my good friend LoLo. We had a fab girls' night out; enjoying red wine, antipasto and pasta. We left with full bellies and vowed to return.
Last week, D and I went after an IT 'do for work. Sort-of compensation for spending Monday night talking computer hardware!
We chose a bottle of prosecco for our Monday evening tipple, and it was served enthusiastically over the course of about an hour. I can certainly climb through a bottle when the service is good! No sooner had I finished a glass, was it topped up again. Like my dream version of the never-ending supply of Tim Tams.
I had happy, happy memories of feasting on prosciutto and rockmelon in Italy back in 2011. I fell in love with the combination of buttery soft cured meat wrapped around sweet, fresh melon. I could think of nothing better to have with an aperitif. Except when they do it with fresh figs!
So when I saw Prosciutto e Melone on the menu at Locanda, it was a sure thing. Alongside that dish we ordered the Caprese salad - another favourite. Each family kitchen and every restaurant has their own interpretation of this classic tri-colour salad. The red of the tomato contrasts so vibrantly with green basil, and the creamy white of the fior di latte.
Prosecco in hand, we awaited two of my favourite dishes of all time. The prosciutto and melon was fabulous. So good that I ordered it again the following day when I lunched with my Mum. The prosciutto was soft, subtle and just meltingly-moorish. The melon was fragrant, cool but not so cold as to render it flavourless. The dish was complemented with some soft curd - perhaps a buffalo mozzarella? Lovely. A little balsamic glaze and bitter leaves finished this starter, and I was in lust with the whole plate. I could eat it back-to-back 5 times over, all to myself. #insertemojiwiththelovehearteyes.
The caprese, on the other hand, was a tad underwhelming. This was mostly serving-size related. For an $18 starter, it was small. If it had been $10-12, I'd have been totally satisfied. The flavours were good - some caramelised onion segments sweetened up the dish, and there was a piece of garlic toast included for good measure. The olive oil was extra fruity, and overall we enjoyed it. We would've love it if it were double the size, as it didn't fare too well on the sharing front. On the other hand, the proscuitto and melon starter was very generously portioned.
For our mains we ordered the risotto of the day (can't resist!) and the gnocchi. Our spritely waitress waxed lyrical about the risotto special: fresh basil pesto with proscuitto. I'm often tempted by a risotto, and the idea of a flavoursome pesto sealed the deal for me.
When it arrived, I was pretty stoked: indulgent serving, a bright green pesto and ribbons of that gorgeous proscuitto again. The rice was perfectly cooked (I always stuff this up at home) and the basil pesto was fresh and flavourful without being overpowering. Joy.
The gnocchi is on the everyday menu and is served with radicchio and taleggio cream, crispy pork cheek and parmesan. The gnocchi is clearly handmade; little pillows of love and heaven. The serving size was moderate, which was probably for the best as it was a rich, wintery dish. D and I both agreed that it'd go beautifully with a glass of red on a cooler evening. As it was, it was salty, creamy, comforting and quite delicious. It couldn't rival the famous gnocchi at 1889 Enotecha (truffle fans in Brisbane will know what I'm talking about), but it was yummy nonetheless.
We shared a side of mixed leaves with our pastas, and were grateful for lightly dressed salad as it brightened our palates against our rather heavy main courses.
The next day Mum and I were in the Valley and I swung by Rogue Bar and Bistro, hoping for a spot of lunch. They were closed, and with scant parking everywhere, we ended up back at M&A! Mum hadn't been to any of the restaurants in the precinct, but we headed back to Locanda because I was so enamoured.
We had a glass of bubbles each (cheeky Tuesday lunchtime!) and ordered a few starters to share. I insisted on the proscuitto and melon again, and we shared the antipasto platter. I'd had the antipasto on my first visit and loved it. A selection of about 10 items for $15pp - pickled and marinated vegetables, olives, cured meats and little toasts.
It was just as lovely this time, with a few changes in the selection. Good to see a restaurant keeping things fresssssh!
I've yet to have sweets at Locanda, but will be sure to do it next time.
The wrap up: good service, nice atmosphere, good wine, great food. A complete winner.
Pssst: their website tells me they are doing an earlybird weekend special. Book a table for 2 or more between 5pm and 6pm and you receive a complimentary bottle of wine! Salute!