Brisbane’s 1889 Enoteca has been named among the world’s best Italian restaurants by Gambero Rosso, the Italian magazine often regarded as that country’s authority on food and wine.

Enoteca is one of four Italian restaurants in Australia to be included in the magazine’s picks for 2020, alongside Sydney’s Lumi and Pizza al Taglio, and Hobart’s Fico. Enoteca made the cut on account of its 500-bottle wine list, which is supplied by restaurant co-owner Dan Clark’s sister business, Addley Clark Fine Wines.

Clark says it was one of his Italian staff members who tipped him off that Enoteca had made Gambero’s 2020 list of international Italian restaurants. “He found it online,” he says. “It’s really funny. The evolution of Addley Clark’s Italian wine arm was originally based on the Gambero Rosso Italian wine guide. I used to go through that religiously and that’s how we ended up picking a lot of our producers.

“[Gambero Rosso] is the number-one guide, as far as [Italian] food and wine goes … It’s reliable too.”

Clark says the achievement vindicates the decision almost a decade ago to back Enoteca’s Roman food with a wine list that consists almost entirely of bottles sourced from small producers in Italian regions such as Campagna, Lazio and Emilia-Romagna. “[Those regions] always had a really interesting mix of ancient varieties, with people growing them properly and making good wine from them.

“We highlighted some areas no one knew about that were actually really exciting for me,” he says. “So after all these years it’s satisfying to be recognised for sticking to the path we set out on from the start.”

That approach also meant Enoteca pre-empted Australia’s modern obsession with natural winemaking, with “95 percent” of Enoteca’s wines produced using natural or biodynamic techniques with limited intervention.

The backbone of Enoteca’s wine list is of course the work of Addley Clark, which supplies wine to almost 400 restaurants and retailers across Australia, including Otto Ristorante, Stanley, Arc Dining, Gerard’s Bistro and Greca. Still, Clark says, this is the restaurant’s award.

“That wine list is only as good as the people we have to sell and take care of those wines,” he says. “Addley Clark has the vision to import those wines, but it’s Enoteca taking it up and Enoteca’s staff who are backing up the whole story. That’s where all the plaudits should go, for sure.

“Most of the staff are Italian, so if they’re into a particular wine it comes across so beautifully, because it’s not contrived or something they need to think about. That makes a big difference. And each [staff member] enjoys a different producer. One might be into Paelo Bea and another might be into Elio Altare, so from a customer’s point of view they’re not getting the same thing continuously.”