It’s a tradition in my family to choose a restaurant for dinner when it’s your birthday. I like Italian food, so when I found a place that looked like affordable Italian in Brisbane, I booked a table straight away.
Surrounded by apartment, office and industrial buildings is somewhere you wouldn’t expect a restaurant to really be, but it works for Gianni’s Kitchen. When arriving you see the delicatessen on one side and the restaurant on the other. Both have outside dining areas with heaters for winter. Inside the first thing I noticed was the pizza oven.
While the pizza oven is not a traditional wood-fired one, the finished products which it produces are simply delicious – and that’s really all that matters, right?
We went on a Friday night, for my 31st birthday. There were a few tables already occupied when we arrived at 6.30pm, while more filled with hungry diners through till 7.30pm.
The wait staff were all very personable, attentive and each one we had, was actually Italian. This to me, is what makes a place authentic – the staff being from the country of which they are serving the cuisine.
We started with some entrees to share and were immediately impressed. With a mix of Bruschetta, Garlic Pizza, Fried Calamari and Arancini we didn’t wait and dug straight into the choices set before us.
I’m not a fan of tomato, so didn’t have any of the Bruschetta, but my family and hubby assured me they were delicious. They must have been too, as my mum ordered them again as her main meal!
The Garlic Pizza had oregano and grana padano cheese sprinkles which gave it that extra flavour, other than just garlic. The pizza base was light and fluffy and even though it was cooked with gas, you could’ve sworn it was wood-fired.
The Calamari’s coating was nice and crisp, while the calamari itself was still tender and not tough or rubbery at all. The seasoning on calamari was just right.
My sister and I shared the Arancini and couldn’t fault it. The tomato sauce they were in, complemented the golden crumb crunch along with the stringy mozzarella inside.
We ordered our mains after we’d finished the entrees. As mentioned above, my mum’s main choice was more Bruschetta’s. The rest of us chose the meat lovers pizza (special for that night), a Duck Pappardelle pasta, the Risotto Del Bosco with chicken added and the Rigatoni with meatballs.
The pizza came out with the cheese at the perfect melted point, with the base once again being quite light. The crusts were a little doughier than the rest of the base, but that was ok, because you needed it for a good grip to then eat the slice. The salami had a good kick to it with the tomato sauce base balancing the spice of the salami.
The Duck Pappardelle pasta had the duck meat shredded in a very light sauce. The pasta itself you could tell was freshly made and showed the true yellowy colour of quality ingredients, unlike the processed stuff from the supermarket). Another tick for flavour was given to this dish from the whole family (we share each other’s dishes to get a chance to sample a bit of everything).
The Risotto Del Bosco was actually one of the vegetarian options which you could add chicken to. My dad ordered this and added the chicken. The rice in the risotto was cooked al dente and while the dish doesn’t look appealing in the plate (a memory of The Katering Show calling risotto “hot wet rice” came to mind), it was another winner on flavour. It was quite cheesy, but not over powering at all.
The Rigatoni with meatballs was the dish my hubby chose and for a few minutes I didn’t think he was going to share at all… But he did. He thought the meatballs were so good, he made each of us try some. I was not disappointed. Most of the time whenever I’ve had meatballs, they are quite big and end up dried out. These ones were smaller, packed full of flavour from some herbs and quite juicy. The rigatoni itself was cooked perfectly and the dish finished off with just the right amount of a light tomato based sauce.
After all this food, you might think we would be full, well we were….. but we figured we could squeeze in dessert, because you know, when in Rome! (See what I did there? Italian cuisine and all).
My sister and I braved the dessert menu and chose the Trio of Gelato and then the holy grail of the Nutella and Salted Caramel Flan.
The gelato flavours were hazelnut, vanilla and pistachio. The vanilla tasted like it was made with proper vanilla beans, while the hazelnut was exactly like eating a ferrero rocher chocolate. I didn’t have any pistachio flavour but my sister enjoyed it.
The flan I had came out chilled and was a little hard to cut bits off using my spoon, but I managed (of course). The reward was the rich chocolate and caramel taste of the filling with the less rich (thank goodness) biscuity taste of the pastry case.
I was actually glad I ate it while it was chilled, as the small piece which we were too full to finish started to warm up to room temperature and the filling became a more runny consistency. To me this made it feel more like eating Nutella straight out of the jar…. Still a 5 out of 5 star dessert though!
If you’re looking for authentic and affordable Italian in Brisbane, definitely get yourself to Gianni’s Kitchen.