That’s Amore! The Slice Of Rome You Won’t Believe Is In The Valley
What happens in Rome…By Dinushka Gunasekara | 29th September 2021
To do as the Romans do is to live grandly, passionately, and with a healthy dose of innovation along the way (who can forget old mate Caesar and the calendar?). Of course, fuelling this way of life is no small feat – Roman dishes are filled with heart to keep the dedication pumping – and that’s exactly the foundation of Eterna Dining.
Inside the exposed brick space that once hosted the beloved LONgTIME, you’ll find Fortitude Valley’s slice of Rome, decked out in candlelight and wine bottles lining the walls. As a resident of the Salt Meats Cheese assembly, the formula for a perfect laneway restaurant is in full swing at Eterna – great food + stellar company + immaculate vibes.
The menu packs authenticity into every bite, with feasts from the Eternal City whipped up in the open-style kitchen under the all-seeing eye of Sora Lella – a renowned Italian actress who managed one of the oldest restaurants in Rome for over 50 years, captured in a portrait. Aptly balancing simple and complex flavours crafted with seasonal produce, don’t make plans after dinner because (a) a multi-course meal is a must, and (b) you’ll be cheerily rolling out the door.
Start your foray with Roman street food designed to be shared, with the delicious aroma wafting its way to you before the beautifully plated dishes find their way to your table. The truffle burrata dip is a refreshingly cool snack, paired with the Sardinian flatbread for a delightfully light crunch. The Roman-style fried artichokes with sweet garlic and chilli sauce will be your new favourite flowers, with a crisp exterior that hides a soft flavour within. And you can’t move on without familiarising yourself with the suppli al telefono – an elevated aranicini ball served with homemade basil mayo, that could easily be devoured by the bucketload if you’re not careful.
Pop in on a Thursday, and the brief time between dishes will fade away to the sound of acoustic crooning, brought to you soulfully by Eddie Gazani’s Gypsy Adventures. The live music is one of the many players hiding the hands of time at Eterna, with every table buried in languid conversations and the rustic interiors whisking you away from Ann Street. Eterna is a late-night joint at heart (the kitchen closes at 10pm), and as the night continues, the energy only crescendos.
A mix of mains and traditional homemade pasta is up next, featuring classic fare any Italian connoisseur will adore and quintessentially Roman tastes you won’t find anywhere else in Brisbane. The tortelli cacio e pepe soaked with browned peppercorn butter has a *chef’s kiss* peppery kick and rich flavours that never become overpowering (fresh black truffle is optional on the menu, but true gastronomists know it’s not). The braised oxtail ragu offers melt-in-your-mouth moments bite after bite, and the crispy skin market fish with perfectly seared broccolini is oh-so ocean fresh.
While the cuisine comes from Rome, the drinks take cues from New York – channelling state-of-mind energies into the spirits. An array of homegrown and imported wine make up the incredible list, but the cocktails stand out in their own right. The Pear & Sherry Daiquiri is great for the sweet tooths, while the Gin Kiwi Smash with cucumber cordial is almost like an alcoholic juice – divine! Those chasing that watermelon sugar high will love the Watermelon Man, that’s frothy and fruity in the best kind of way.
You can’t leave without dessert, and the chef’s signature tiramisu that changes weekly has cemented itself a spot as one of Brissy’s best. Or, if you prefer your third-course a bit more feisty, the passionfruit and lemon semifreddo packs on the zest to reinvigorate you out of the food coma. But the crown must go to the pistachio panna cotta with sponge-like fairy floss – at first glance you’ll think there’s been a mistake and the panna cotta is missing from the dish, but closer inspection will reveal the treat is the base itself, which makes licking the plate clean not only a want but a need.
They say what happens in Rome stays in Rome, and when you finally drag yourself away from Eterna, the stark contrast of The Valley will have you feeling like the memories you just made were built somewhere far away. But the fairy lights guarding the laneway twinkle under the night sky, for those in the know to find their way back again.
You can find Eterna at 610 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley. Book your trip to Rome here.