Sherwood Road’s Mariosarti Ristorante Italiano is a long established restaurant, having served local residents for almost 20 years. Though the area surrounding Toowong Tower is crammed with eateries, many of them are of the cafe or takeaway shop variety, so Mariosarti seems to fill what could otherwise be a bit of a gap in the neighbourhood's culinary makeup. The popularity is proven as the place overflows with patrons, even on weeknights.
Mariosarti's atmosphere is warmer and comfier than you might expect if walking past on the street. Staff are professional, and they do a pretty good job of getting you in and out, without being too overt about the fact that they need your table cleared and ready for the next round of diners.
By their own account, Mariosarti has changed tack somewhat since their inception in 1995, shifting from traditional regional style Italian to a more modern take on the cuisine. The food, however, remains fairly uncomplicated. Dishes look and taste more or less as you would expect from their descriptions on the menu. The pappardelle con anatra e funghi pocini (confit duck, shallots, portabello mushrooms and fresh herbs finished in a light mushroom stock with truffle pesto and reggiano, $31.9) is a prime example. Each separate ingredient is easily distinguishable, and no element overpowers the rest.
The menu is quite lengthy, and fans of Italian food will easily be able to pick out a few dishes. The scarmorza (wood smoked white mozzarella lightly grilled and served with smoked sea salt and fresh lemon, $15) should whet the appetite, ready for Mariosarti’s signature dish – pancetta di Maiale arrostito con tartuffo e porcini funghi (crispy skin pork belly served with a pumpkin and sage puree, smashed green peas finished with a truffle infused porcini jus – $21.9 as an entrée, or $35.9 for a main course). The dessert list has just about all the best loved dolci, but the biscotti e crema pannacotta with blood orange curd holds the most intrigue.
Though Mariosarti has its own wine list (with drops from Italy, France, Australia and New Zealand) BYO is available for tables of 8 or less. Be warned, however, that the corkage fee is very steep at $25 per bottle.