Just a hop, skip and jump from downtown Brunswick St Mall, and a stone’s throw from James St, Brisbane’s newest development M & A Lane is bridging the gap between New Farm and Fortitude Valley. At ground level, M & A Lane is home to a fresh palette of dining venues.
In good company, Locanda Osteria & Bar is located opposite Mighty Mighty and next door to Gordita. The brand-new space has a contemporary fit out with a black and white chevron-striped bar, pine-coloured furniture, raw hanging spiral bulbs and a perimetre covered in wine bottles. Locanda’s kitchen is in the centre, and so like any good Italian eatery strong smells of garlic and tomato waft through the restaurant.
Owned by two of the three guys behind 1889 Enoteca, you’re in safe hands food wise. The boys have left the fine dining part of 1889 Enoteca in Woolloongabba, but didn’t leave its signature gnocchi behind. Like soft pillows made of clouds, the pan-fried gnocchi ($25), cooked with cured pork cheek in a burnt butter sauce, melt into a cheesy-potatoey mess your mouth.
Locanda is working the Osteria angle – meaning it puts the emphasis on simple, inexpensive food made with traditional Italian flavours and ingredients – and we think there is value in its dishes. An order of the spiedo di porchetta ($33) – spit-roast herb-rolled pork belly with grilled polenta and agrodolce sauce – proved large enough for not just one, or two, but even three people if you plan on ordering any entrees or sides.
Speaking of entrees, an order of the porchetta and veal meatballs ($15) in a house-made tomato sauce shouldn’t be passed up. Think all of the best bits of spaghetti bolognese, but none of the carbs – giving you the space to order more food.
After pork belly, gnocchi, meatballs, calamari and salad you’d be tempted to up and leave – but dessert calls, and Locanda are dropping the bombolini on us. You heard – eight fresh-cooked doughnuts filled with a delicious vanilla cream ($13). Better yet, we’re sure you can find space for the vanilla bean pannacotta ($13) with strawberries and balsamic. For simple, no frills but all-flavour Italian, Locanda Osteria & Bar is giving the cuisine a good name north of the river.