Sooner or later, so they say, everything old is new again. Like Otto Brisbane – the Sunshine State incarnation of a Sydney favourite that shimmied into the River City back in 2015. But February saw the suave Italian decamp its inner-city abode for the former headquarters of Stokehouse Q, a more recent victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while the Arkhefield-designed space wasn't dreamt up with Otto in mind, you'd never know it – there's no better fit for the fine diner than waterfront River Quay, especially considering the original is perched on Finger Wharf in Sydney's Woolloomooloo.
More tables and less kitchen space mark the major changes for the new eatery so far, though menu movements are promised to follow soon. For now, expect the same polished Italian favourites made from largely local ingredients, though this time shared among a duo of eating spaces – the more formal Otto Ristorante, and Otto Osteria for when a Spritz and snack combo come calling.
"Unashamedly simple" is the game here, but they're not referring to the simplicity you'd find on your average nonna's table. This is the kind of simple Italian served on a starchy white tablecloth, refined in both look and flavour. Plump oysters arrive topped with salty salmon roe and crisp cucumber, alongside a mountainous portion of whipped Woodside goat's curd, truffle honey and pane carasau. Fresh kingfish forms the crudo, which is sprinkled with zesty pops of finger lime and a subtle scattering of aromatic fennel and spices.
Save room for the pasta, available as an entrée or main, giving you the chance to sample the full quartet of options if you so choose. But forced to choose just one, the spaghettini is the standout. Even at a punchy $50 for an entrée and $70 for a main, it lives up to the hype, thanks to a rich concoction of Champagne lobster in a buttery lemon and wine sauce, topped with bottarga.
The risotto sits heavy in comparison, though no less tasty. The tomato-led foray mingles chunks of pork sausage, creamy stracciatella and tendrils of cavolo nero. Mains consist of a series of proteins, including beef exclusively raised for Otto by Rangers Valley. It's perfectly cooked and complemented by a mustard foam and veal sauce, which serve to boost its rich flavour.
Sweets fail to make the same impression as the savoury side of the menu. A hefty curl of vanilla bean gelato, joined by espresso and the naughty (but genius) addition of Nocello liqueur forms the affogato. But the chocolate offering pales in comparison.
Otto Brisbane continues to deliver from its bold new abode. And while the price point is high across the board (despite a lengthy wine list, btles rarely dip below the $100 mark), the chance to relish polished Italian in one of Brisbane's best waterfront locations is arguably priceless.