I actually can’t remember how we ended up choosing Il Centro for dinner. Wifey, having lived in Brisbane five years previous, had suggested we try Cha Cha Char also at Eagle Street Pier but for some reason we went with Il Centro instead. We are seated at a table outdoors, taking advantage of the pleasant evening weather, and the menu had sounded quite promising until I studied it again after getting there.
I start the evening with a glass of prosecco. I actually did not intend to drink but I find it very hard to go past a glass of bubbles these days – it just so appeals to the girly girl in me! Monsieur Poisson, as usual, does not join me and misses out on this light drink with a dry note at the end. We order a ‘Pizza ai porcini, pancetta e basilico’ to start and the aromas of porcini are overwhelmingly inviting. The pancetta is finely chopped and not too salty, and we notice the distinct absence of garlic from this pizza which is scattered with a few leaves of rocket.
Our other primi is the ‘Capesante con riso carnaroli di timo e fave’ ordered partly out of wanting to try risottos on Dr King’s behalf and also to indulge Monsieur Poisson’s love of scallops. The scallops with roe attached are unfortunately just that tiny bit overcooked, but their sweet flavours are complemented nicely by the creamy, light lemon sauce and crunchy sweet broad beans. Interestingly, the scallops sitting atop are dressed with a tomato salsa before being topped with a herb salad.
For mains Monsieur Poisson orders the ‘Fruitti di mare con gnocchi di patate, salvia, castagne e piselli’ but I can’t remember if it’s the seafood or gnocchi that has attracted him. I’m encouraged by the mention of chestnuts but then am confused by the flavours when the dish arrives – I associate seafood with summer, chestnuts and gnocchi with winter, and peas with spring. The nutmeg-scented gnocchi (confirmed by my questioning of a waitress who had to check with the kitchen) are a flattened elongated shaped and are smooth and light in texture without risk of falling apart. However, the flavours don’t really gel for me in this dish which is topped by more of that tomato salsa.
I’ve chosen the meaty ‘Bistecca di manzo alla griglia’ that comes with duck fat roasted King Edward potatoes, broccoli and beans as well as either Béarnaise or pepper sauce. The menu says the steak is a certified 300 gram, 150-day, black Angus sirloin and is most definitely well-charred but juicy. The steak arrives unseasoned and for some reason I have chosen the Béarnaise to accompany this otherwise Italian steak. The sauce is served in a gravy boat and is devoid of herbs, which is normally Béarnaise’s distinguishing feature from Hollandaise. I am disappointed by the duck fat potatoes, only because I was expecting them to be like those served at L’étoile, and am further confounded by more of that mysterious tomato salsa adorning the steak.
Although we are quite full by this point, we make room for dessert mainly because we notice that petits fours are offered on the menu. Monsieur Poisson relaxes with a caffe latte which comes with biscotti. The biscotti are light and crumbly and not chewy like the usual, but the coffee is slightly grey in colour.
I settle back with a pot of T2 Earl Grey which is wonderfully fragrant. Our ‘Assortimento di cioccolatini e dolcetti’ is placed on the table without any introduction so we are left to guess what the eight individual components are. We assume them to be: a thin and crisp poppyseed tuille; a chocolate, cherry coconut slice; a frangipane tartlet with strawberry jam centre; a mildly bitter chocolate truffle with gooey centre; an apricot tartlet; a chocolate tartlet which is neither bitter nor sweet; an almond slice; and a chocolate stick perhaps with candied orange peel. It definitely brings a forensics component to the end of our meal!
Overall the food at Il Centro is not bad and the service is both friendly and personable. We just found the menu to be a bit confused, or perhaps it was just us that were confused by it. Nonetheless, the restaurant enjoyed an almost full crowd that night which should attest to its popularity.
Eagle Street Pier, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane QLD
Tel: (07) 3221 6090
Opening Hours: Sun-Fri lunch from 12pm
dinner from 5:30pm
Sat dinner only from 5:30pm