‘Enoteca’ translates as ‘wine library’, and wine can be seen everywhere — from the hundreds of empty bottles making up the decor to the full ones ready for drinking.
Looking to the past often helps shape the future, and the guys behind 1889 Enoteca renovated the fit-out (once in 2008 and again in 2013) to best show-off the old Moreton Rubber building in Woolloongabba.
Like stepping into the heart of old-time Europe, 1889 Enoteca offers traditional Roman fare with a wine list to die for and an interior to match. Before the trio of owners opened the restaurant in 2008, they peeled back the damage of time (also known as the '70s and pure neglect) to reveal original raw bricks, long-lost stained-glass windows and the original wooden floorboards.
In a case of old meets new but doesn't lose its roots, it is evident that there is passion behind the food, and even more so behind the wine. 'Enoteca' translates as 'wine library', and wine can be seen everywhere – from the hundreds of empty bottles making up the decor to the full ones ready for drinking. Evidence is everywhere of good times past, and good times to be had.
The list that reads like novel — so if you're a novice, leave it to the experts. Owner Cameron was more than willing to make suggestions and the staff are just as competent on the range of organic, biodynamic and natural wines.
Seating in the main upstairs dining consists of dark wood booths with large mirrors above and fuchsia velvet patterned benches. Opposite them is the long and dominating marble bar with hanging lights and the air of old-time luxury. In the adjacent room or 'wine shop' are free-standing tables, and downstairs is the cellar and private dining hall. A large wooden table seats groups and the space hosts up to 42. "Grand" only begins to describe it all.
When to comes to food offerings, expect your classic Italian menu. Antipasti leads the charge with the cheese, meat and marinated vegetables leading the way. For the primi course, we recommend the highly coveted fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella cheese and anchovies or the traditional vitello tonnato. This dish consists of thinly cut rare veal that's been topped with tuna mayo, olives, capers and grilled zucchini.
Several pastas also adorn the menu —all true classics. Get your rich and meaty ragu on papparadelle, a cacio e pepe or carbonara on spaghetti or a special sand crab with chilli, garlic and chives on tagliatelle.
1889 Enoteca's secondi plates hit all the main spots too. Opt for the saltimbocca alla Romana which consists of veal that's been wrapped with prosciutto and sage before being marinated in wine and baked in the oven. It'll transport you right to Rome. You'll also find a mushroom and truffle risotto, a fish of the day served with a punchy salsa verde, Moreton Bay bugs in a creamy pesto sauce and a big T-bone steak.
Not surprisingly, you'll find all your favourite Italian desserts on the menu, too. There's a tiramisu, panna cotta, semifreddo and a lemon tart.
All these quintessential Italian dishes have survived the test of time, being perfected throughout many generations. And 1889 Enoteca isn't trying to reinvent the wheel. It's simply mastering each and every option, serving up delicious food that any Nonna would be proud of.
Top image: Nikki To.
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