Now that I'm through with my short term French food fling, my appetite has a new focus on Italian. I've also noticed a trend with dining out at Italian restaurants. If I order something other than pasta at one, I find myself craving pasta the whole following week. This happened at Dell U'go when I ordered a steak main. I had to curb my subsequent pasta craving somehow and what better way to do that than by knocking one of Brisbane's most reputable Italian restaurants off my 'must try' list. Like Montrachet, which I finally got to visit a couple of weeks ago, 1889 Enoteca has been a restaurant I've wanted to try for years and years but never got a chance to. Well, the thing with opportunity is sometimes you just have to make things happen for yourself.
I made a spontaneous booking, by which I mean I filled out their online booking request form no more than 3hrs before we actually wanted the table. Neither Marc or I was surprised that they hadn't received the booking request when we showed up. Fortunately, Enoteca was able to accommodate by offering us a table street side. We were actually glad because it was the most perfect outdoor eating weather and we were dressed a bit more casually than the guests seated inside. I think this seating arrangement worked out well for everyone.
Marc and I ordered some beverages to start with. Our waiter choose a glass of red for me based on a few choice adjectives 'not too sweet not too dry'. He did tell me what I got but I can't remember the name. Suffice to say it was exactly what I was looking for. I like the fact that Marc's beer was poured into a chilled glass too.
Pane - freshly baked bread with extra virgin olive oil
We tried the house bread with olive oil. The bread was served quickly (which we really appreciated) and it had a lovely warm interior with soft, elastic and holey texture. It was perfect for moping up the delicious extra virgin olive oil. The crust on the bread had a bit of bite and crunch but wasn't too chewy either.
Our pasta mains arrived not long after the bread was cleared. There was the option of 'entree size' or 'main size' and we both went for main sized. I can't imagine anything worst than tasting a delicious pasta dish and running out after a few measly bites. The quantity here was such that we were in no danger of being left unsatisfied.
Rigatoni all amatriciana - rigatoni, fresh tomato sauce, cured pork cheek, chilli and Pecorino Romano
I tried my rigatoni with pork cheek first. The pasta was cooked on point (and as I was told by the waiter, made fresh on the day) with just the right amount of bite. I liked the complexity of the tomato sauce and my favourite part was the surprising flavour bursts of the cured pork cheeks. They were spiced and smokey and very delicious.
Pappardelle al ragu - wide ribbon pasta, braised pork and beef, fresh tomato sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano
Marc's pappardelle came as thickly cut sheets of pasta, again cooked to perfection. It was served with a slow braised pork and beef ragu. This was another deliciously flavoursome, comforting and moreish pasta dish. We were in heaven.
Pannacotta al pistacchio con lamponi e biscotti al miele - pistachio pannacotta, raspberry and honey biscotti
I had my mind on a dessert that caught my eye when we first read through the menu so I didn't need time to think about whether I wanted dessert or which I wanted to try. The waiter seemed surprised at how confident I was that I wanted the pistachio pana cotta. The thing is, if there's a pistachio flavoured dessert item, that's what I'm going to order. I instantly gravitate towards anything with pistachio.
Pana cotta is such a classic dessert that some might go so far as to call it boring. I can understand why it can seem unexciting because it's so regularly available. I've ordered it and tasted it on many occasions but never in my life had I tasted one so perfect in texture. It was set with exactly the right amount of softness and wobble. The pistachio flavouring was mild but detectable. I liked the raspberry sauce and bursts of crunchy dehydrated raspberry. The sauce nearly overpowered the delicate pana cotta but once I adjusted the ratio of pudding to sauce in each bite, it became an ideal compliment.
1889 Enoteca provided the best pasta I've had in Brisbane, and that's saying something because I've tasted some knockouts in recent months. The atmosphere was lovely; in fact, I like that whole complex of restaurants, especially at night. It feels very European. The service we experienced was fun yet professional. This is one of those restaurants that I can imagine breaking my 'no repeat' rule for to go back again and again.