Food review: The Italian Kitchen Co.

2460 Gold Coast Highway (Cnr Glenelg Ave), Mermaid Beach Ph: 07 5575 5955

There’s nothing like Italian hospitality to make you feel at home. It’s like a big warm embrace, straight from the heart.

That’s just how we feel when we dine at The Italian Kitchen Co.

To owners Natalie and Robert, food is the language of love – the love Robert knew growing up in his Sicilian parents’ kitchen in Sydney, the love he used to woo Natalie by cooking for her and her mother every Saturday, that same dish that he shares with us in their restaurant today.

After winning Natalie’s heart, the pair started their first restaurant, a backstreet pizzeria; a foundation for their move to the Gold Coast five years ago where the pair were stallholders in Miami Marketta, building a catering business and establishing clientele as they saved for their own permanent restaurant.

“It was not just about finding any place. We wanted a community similar to the Marketta but with a solid home,” Natalie tells us.

That’s the ‘home’ they found in the former Ristorante Pinocchio, Mermaid Beach, set in a little enclave of other niche eateries: The Glenelg Public House, Bonita Bonita and Lupo.

Robert heads up the kitchen, his menu “telling the story of his Sicilian heritage with enough entry points for the diner to appreciate the food,” Natalie says.

She points out that his recipes are not only traditional, but many are of his own creation, as is the way in Italian families, each person adding their own creative tweak to recipes handed down through generations.

Since opening mid-2018, life has not been easy for the couple. The recent loss of their unborn child took its toll, rocking them to their foundations. Overcome by grief, they hired extra staff to cover their commitments in the restaurant, Natalie continuing her job as a child psychologist.

But as we move into spring, the couple has regrouped to focus on their passion, a restaurant which truly embraces the Italian spirit, Robert back in the kitchen and Natalie covering front-of-house.

The menu, too, has been revamped to concentrate on pasta, seafood and other local specialties, divided into Antipasti, Secondi and House-made pasta.

We begin our meal with an array of antipasti: delicious thinly sliced coppa and salami, creamy house-made ricotta, the sensational burrata caprese oozing creamy stracciatella as it’s cut. It’s the sort of spread we could sit down to on a Friday afternoon for aperitivo; nothing too fancy or overworked, just the very best quality laid out simply.

For Secondi, huge prawns straight from the trawlers are cooked in local garlic and olive oil ($19), the dish complemented by BBQ Fremantle octopus served with rocket, lemon and oregano ($19) and a rosé from a well-chosen selection of Italian and Australian wines.

For mains, there’s decadent handmade gnocchi with mushrooms, bacon and cream, and spinach, spaghetti marinara with its medley of the freshest seafood in napolitana sauce, and ricotta ravioli – our favourite! It’s an absolute feast to share.

“We have this old black and white photo of the family sitting around the kitchen,” Natalie responds. “It’s about people being together. We want the experience here to be approachable and memorable, as though we are sitting around the table in a large Italian kitchen.”

That’s how we love to dine.

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NOTE: Marj dined as a guest of The Italian Kitchen Co.

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