On a hot summer day, the cool white and dark wood interior of Mario at the dining room was a welcome and relaxing spot for a leisurely Sunday lunch with friends. It’s crisp and clean and the service is attentive. You feel confident you are going to eat some seriously tasty food.
Owner and chef Mario Alfieri is a leader of Italian cuisine in Queensland. His old school value of visiting the dining room to check on his guests was evident even on this relatively quiet Sunday lunch service.
First up, Miss P and I checked out the dessert menu. Yes, we’d definitely need to choose our entree and main wisely to accommodate for a sweet ending. We opted to share an entree of egg battered whiting fillets. The fish was moist and the batter light and crispy. Al chose the braised baby calamari with a tomato and pea sauce on ciabatta bread. The calamari was very tender and Al really enjoyed what was quite a large entree dish. M chose the Bruschetta with assorted toppings including traditional tomato, basil and olive oil, roasted eggplant and capiscum. Again, another tasty starter.
As expected at an Italian restaurant, there are many pasta options and Miss P really got lucky when she ordered Fettuccine scallops with asparagus, porcini mushrooms and wine. Although not particularly pretty, this was an absolute standout dish. Beautifully seasoned with bags of flavour, it may have slightly overpowered the delicate scallops, but nonetheless, was a definite winner.
I chose one of the specials of the day, spring lamb with garlic potatoes. Served with broccoli and mint sauce, the cutlets were juicy and nicely caramalised. Not particularly Italian but beautifully presented and very tasty with a hint of chilli and mint.
Al ordered the Veal Saltimbocca. There was nothing left on his plate so clearly he loved it. Tender veal, salty prosciutto and punchy sage are always a good combo. Veal features heavily on the menu in the form of veal funghi, veal Florentine, veal involtini, veal parmigana and veal cotaletta a la bice (crumbed and topped with roasted capsicum and garlic).
M ordered the daily special of braised lamb shoulder pasta in a tomato red wine ragout with pecorino. A rustic style dish with lovely tender slow-cooked lamb.
Other specials of the day included Swordfish steak on homemade pasta with black olives and capers. Homemade tortelloni with ricotta, porcini and truffle sauce and pappardelle pasta with confit duck and truffle tapanade.
The flourless chocolate torte was an easy dessert choice for me. A special of the day, it was very moist, slightly bitter and served with raspberry compote. Completely satisfying in every way. Miss P choose homemade cassata with candied fruits, nuts and a liquor which from memory was Sambuca. Al went with the lemon tart. No complaints in the dessert department. All very happy campers.
Mario at the dining room somehow feels like an old friend. A place you’d happily go back to when you are looking for comfort, calm and delicious food. Maybe a Saturday night dinner service would feel a little more lively with a full restaurant. Either way, we’ll be back to sample more Italian delights.
To end your meal, Mario serves the beautifully roasted and always satisfying Blue Sky Coffee.
Ph: 3268 4331
49 Gerler Road, Hendra