Brisbane's a city that might not market itself is a culinary capital or top dining destination, but the increasing cultural diversity and levels of domestic migration by those with cooking talents in pursuit of its comfortable and warm weather has done much to add to the array of quality restaurants the city now boasts.
The characteristic tastes of Napoli are on display in full force at Fortitude Valley's Tartufo, with pizza as its flagship dish but offering so much more than that.
Set in a timeless "European setting" in every sense of the word, Tartufo is a venue with an excellent decor fit-out reminiscent of France of not perhaps purely Italy and demonstrates both a sense of style and quality of menu that has the ability to hang with equivalent establishments in Melbourne - high praise given the Victorian capital's generally accepted status as our country's culinary paragon.
This is a restaurant that allows you the flexibility to have as subdued or lively an evening as you wish, with seating away from the main crowd of diners available upon prior request. And a crowd there will be; the longstanding reputation of this restaurant still exists in full force, and a loyal crowd of dedicated regulars can be found sampling its goods on each day of operation.
Kicking things off at Tartufo is the signature pizza which gains its sensational taste through a combination of cooking skill, an authentic pizza oven, proper pizza base and associated contents to combine to produce what we consider to be Brisbane's best.
This can be enjoyed in the restaurant's "express" bar area for pizza that accommodates a quicker - yet no less delicious - bite to eat as opposed to the full-blown a la carte section that serves as the restaurant's main hub. The margherita and primavera are done so authentically here that those who have visited proper establishments on a trip to Italy will not be left disappointed, as both the technique and the freshness of the ingredients used are obvious. Bear in mind that you'll be limited to a pizza-oriented selection in this wing of the restaurant.
"Dishes here are always perfectly cooked and packed with flavour, and there are several essentials on the menu that first-timers will want to try."
Tartufo's main section is where you'll want to head if you're after their fine dining offerings, and each of the dishes on offer are typically tantalising, incorporating classic flavours that are given a modern twist. The snapper here in particular is extraordinary and some of the best you'll ever try, while the rabbit pasta is delectable and calamari-on-rocket dish is incredibly tender and comes with a bare-bones unbattered approach that adds rather than subtracts from the flavour.
Regardless of your choice of dishes, each is constructed and presented with great care - if you're having trouble choosing from the overwhelming number of quality options on the menu, then the mixed degustation offers an easy out and offers a lineup that's a true thrill for the senses, with wine well-matched to its accompanying dish.
Service-wise, Tartufo is basically faultless; it's an impeccable experience from welcome to exit, with passionate euro-centric staff that's attentive and friendly even during the commonly busy times, and the sommeliers are experts at giving advice on the best possible wine pairings. The owner/chef will often pop by tables in quieter times to check on things, and his accent and passion along with other touches such as the restaurant's old-world feel with black and white photos help add to the overall immersion of the dining experience. All dietary needs and requirements are catered for without any hesitation, serving sizes and toppings are generous, and the price point is high but not unreasonable given the quality. Could it be argued that this is Brisbane's best Italian? We wouldn't object.
experienceoz.com.au (may 2015)