Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tartufo Ristorante + Bar

Tartufo Ristorante + Bar

Stunning: Snapper with crisp, smashed potatoes.

Tartufo Ristorante + Bar

Photography by Bruce Long

Gracious: Tartufo's interior.

Simple ingredients take centre stage at Brisbane's vibrant new Italian. Lizzie Loel reports.

It opened with a bang and one very expensive fit out, a cracker kitchen and zinc bar about a kilometre long. But for Belle Epoque the beautiful era is over. The patisserie has expanded into some of the restaurant space and now boasts its own sitting area but this is hardly noticed as it is so big.

Bring down the red, blue and white, and hoist Italy's Tricolore, lose the red walls and stock the bar with Aperol, Sangiovese and Peroni. Ex-Gold Coast chef/owner of Fellini, Tony Percuoco, has done a reverse sea-change landing in Brisbane to open Tartufo.

The big double doors are still a feature and somehow the beautiful mosaic floors seem more prominent. Tables are simply laid and service is attentive, overseen by Tony, resplendent in his chef's whites. Tartufo's partner, Gordana Savic also hails from Fellini, along with long-term staffers Jeffrey Cheng, who runs the bar, and chef Shane Veivers.

The menu is produce driven and pared back, contrasting with the elaborate nature of the room, with starters that sound, and taste, just plain good for you.

Crudo di pesce is wafer-thin fillets of raw kingfish overlaid with see-through circles of scallop dressed with tiny capers, chives, micro herbs, an uber fine dice of tomato, lemon and olive oil.

It beams Omega-3s, a bit like eating mouthfuls of the ocean on a perfect summer's day.

Ditto the slightly more powerful Bowen coral trout, poached in a bay leaf and lemon-scented broth.

It's chilled and flaked before being tossed with pitted Ligurian olives, fine slivers of garlic and freshly-cracked black pepper. This sits over a bed of curly endive, which adds a slightly bitter edge to the sweet flesh of the fish.

Sound simple? It tastes truly deliciously so, but it's all in the seasoning, or so I'm told.

Handmade gnocchi cooked in tomato and provola is gratineed with grana and served with fresh basil. Pappardelle sits under a blanket of rabbit ragu topped with pecorino romano while pan-seared scallops sit over grilled beetroot topped with cauliflower puree, and dressed with beetroot and parsley oil. Veal comes from both Green Mountain in Queensland and Gippsland in Victoria, done two ways. Crumbed in a blend of macadamia and lavender, and cooked in nocello and brandy, this must be a fragrant little number.

Gold band snapper baked to golden brown is still soft and juicy within, sitting over new-season asparagus and spring onions, and thyme-scented tomatoes over perfectly-crisp, smashed potatoes.

At a nearby table a spatchcock diavola is being devoured.

From Kilkivan, it is butterflied and grilled under a press to flatten and crisp the skin. It's on the backburner for my next visit along with the spring lamb and onion frittata.

There's a strong wine list of Italian and home-grown varietals and the dessert menu is traditional and indulgent. Gelato, tiramisu and panna cotta all make the list but the star is the semifreddo of prunes soaked in Strega and studded with pistachios. Sitting over a crisscross of duelling syrups, spiced orange syrup and prune, it's a great assembly of favours embedded into a creamy smooth ice cream.

Here's what I really noticed about the food - you can taste the seasoning. Quality fresh black or white pepper, good sea salt are flavours in themselves, and we sometimes forget that or can't distinguish them under the barrage of other flavours.

The key ingredients here star in their own show, appropriately seasoned and accompanied by complimentary flavours - and not too many of them on each plate.

Only a couple of weeks old and already welcoming crowds of diners, it seems Tartufo is poised to become a Brisbane favourite.

The food:
The staff: 6/10
The drink: 3/5
The X-factor: 3/5
The value: 5/10

The total out of 50 - 33

Address: Emporium 1000 Ann St, Brisbane; ph 07 3852 1500
Food: Italian
Drink: Licensed
Hours: Breakfast: 7-10.30am; Lunch: noon-3pm; Dinner: 6pm-late; Bar menu: noon-late
Chefs: Tony Percuoco, Shane Veivers & Matt Osborne
Owners: Tony Percuoco & Gordana Savic
Price Guide: entrees $24 - $26; mains $29 - $38; desserts $13 - $16.50

Snapshot: This will be a very popular destination with its gracious surrounds and vibrant food.

Information in this article is correct as of 26 October 2010.

Lizzie Loel reviews QLD restaurants for the taste section every Tuesday in The Courier-Mail. - The Courier-Mail - October 2010, Page 4

Lizzie Loel

View the original article here

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