When Northshore Group redeveloped Fortitude Valley's Stewart and Hemmant building in 2021, one of it’s first tenants was Rosmarino. The 55-seat restaurant and wine bar by Lauren Smith and Andrea Gatti (Hellenika) sits plum on the McLachlan street side of the building, which dates back to 1890 and formerly housed the long-forgotten Great Wall Shopping Centre.
Rosmarino is all high ceilings, tall and heavily framed windows, and concrete floors. Working with Life House Interiors (owned by Smith’s sister-in-law Narissa O’Doherty), Smith and Gatti have added personality to the space with mangrove-green walls, vintage light fittings, and old family photos dotted about the place. Out back is a pokey courtyard. All up, the intended effect is to feel as though you’re coming home to nonna’s house.
For food, chef Dario Manca is cooking a menu of elevated comfort food that includes house-baked breads, antipasti, house-made pastas and main meals. You might eat kingfish crudo with verjus, bottarga, green apple and burnt buttermilk, or roasted duck with tonnato sauce, caper berries, amarena fabbri (a brand of wild cherry syrup) and garlic croutons; followed by pasta dishes such as tonnarelli with crab, yellow cherry tomatoes and a bisque emulsion, and casarecce with rabbit ragu, shallot, goat curd and lemon tyme.
For mains, you might see a 24-hour slow-cooked lamb belly with radish, salsa verde and mustard greens, and a 5+ Wagyu tri-tip aged in white chocolate and served with black bagna cauda (a dipping sauce made from garlic and anchovies) and persimmon. It’s refined food delivered with a traditional twist that recall Manca and Gatti’s Italian homeland.
Still, it’s wine that arguably comes first at Rosmarino. Smith, Gatti and head sommelier Nathan Hurst started out with a list of 150 bottles, with a long-term vision of 800 or so. Their focus is on Italian varietals and expressions from Mount Etna, in particular. Many are biodynamic or sustainable, and can’t usually be found elsewhere – even in a good bottleshop – due to limited availability.
To make the most of all this, Smith and Gatti allocate a generous sitting time for earlier bookings, which means punters can relax into the experience with a glass of wine or cocktail before moving on to a bottle with their meal. With just 45 other diners on the restaurant floor and 10 at the bar (grazing on a cheese and salumi menu), it’s a place to linger.