There is nothing more quintessentially Italian than dining seaside on the Amalfi Coast. Fresh seafood, seasonal produce, local flavours – as part of the Campania region of Italy, the Amalfi Coast is known for fresh, simple cuisine that celebrates the local region. One iconic establishment of the Amalfi Coast is Marina Grande, a 4th generation family restaurant that is known for the best views (and dishes) of the region.
This is where Arturo Buonocore, owner of Teneriffe and Chelmer restaurants Tocco Italiano, hails from and the legacy he continues to cultivate right here in Brisbane. Despite his deep love for his homeland, Arturo decided to follow his wife, an Australian woman, and settle down in Australia. Tocco Italiano is his way of sharing the traditional flavours and dishes of the Amalfi Coast here in Brisbane. Cooking with lots of love and passion, dining at Tocco Italiano is like sitting down to a family meal at nonna’s house.
It’s important to know when you dine at Tocco Italiano that the chefs have carefully crafted their menu to accurately reflect the heritage they wish to share. For this reason, alterations to dishes are not allowed. And no, this isn’t a hipster café that thinks they know better than you – this is the decision of a man who lives and breathes Italian cuisine and wants you to experience dishes that are as authentic as possible. If you’re the kind of diner who likes to change their dishes (“Hold the salt, please. Extra chilli, thank you.”), then this is a dining experience that will challenge you. But please, trust your taste buds in their hands. You won’t regret it.
Once you’re seated, you’ll be treated to an impressive and expansive menu, offering plenty of options to suit all kinds of tastes. For antipasti (starters), the Polpo Arrosto, Culatello e Pesche, Burrata Pugliese, and Manzo e Porcini are wonderful selections. But if you have a fondness for seafood, you have to try the Capesante e Panzanella, one of their signature dishes. The pan-fried scallops are served slightly raw in the middle, with a zesty and fresh combination of summer vegetables and a lemon emulsion.
As you move onto the first and main courses, you’ll notice that befitting the Campania region Arturo hails from, the menu offers a wide range of vegetarian options. If you’re a vegetarian, this will obviously be a delight; however, even if you’re a strident meat-eater, you’ll find these dishes so wonderfully prepared that you won’t even notice the absence of meat.
One such example is the Spaghetti al Pomodoro with San Marzano tomato sauce, which is a classic, untouched grandmother’s recipe. Alternatively, the Ravioli Caprese–filled with buffalo ricotta and served with baby roma tomatoes, marjoram and capers–is delightfully light and perfectly balanced. Another standout dish that is well worth your appetite is the Risotto con Rape Rosse. The vibrant purple colour is a result of the rich beetroot reduction, which is complemented by the sharp flavour of blue cheese. Keeping in theme with their Amalfi Coast origins, the Scialatielli Costiera Amalfitana is a homemade egg pasta with seafood ragu, traditional to the Amalfi Coast. Moving away from pasta-based dishes for a moment, the Cotoletta di Vitello (traditional Milanese breadcrumbed veal served with pickled vegetables) shines a light on a side of Italian cuisine not often seen in Brisbane. If you enjoy seafood, the Aragostelle con pak Choi is a tantalising, cross-cultural combination of Moreton Bay bugs, Asian pak choi, and buffalo mozzarella.
And of course, what is an Italian feast without handmade desserts? Whether you choose a selection of cheeses, the devilishly indulgent Tutto Cioccolato (chocolate platter), or what I am calling Brisbane’s best Tiramisu, Tocco Italiano’s dessert menu is a fast track to nirvana.
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