Italian Food Restaurant
It felt like a move out of left field when brothers Cameron and Jordan Votan moved their immensely popular Happy Boy eatery to the far end of Fortitude Valley in 2017. Even more so when Cameron Votan announced the charming old brick warehouse original would close and be converted into an Italian restaurant.
But there was method to the madness.
While the team considered a couple of different directions with the cuisine, including South-East Asian and provincial French cuisine, Italian food was a clear winner because it shares so many similarities with the Chinese dining style (being communal, mostly).
The venue is just as no fuss as the original, right down to its name: Italian Food Restaurant. That’s the Votan brothers’ typically straightforward and unpretentious approach. The pair is known for keeping the design of their restaurants simple and steer clear of fancy plating. Similar to Happy Boy, their efforts to showcase lesser-known regions, with dishes hailing from Veneto, Piedmont and Liguria, among others, are obvious.
The menu is organised into “smaller”, “larger” and “sweet”, with the option of a $45 or $55 banquet. Perhaps surprisingly it’s protein and produce focused, with only a single pasta dish available. Standouts include insalata di carne crudu; a beef eye round with olive and parmesan toast; and cappelletti, a pork filled pasta in beef broth with silverbeet and mushroom.
As always with the Votans the wine list is impressive and detailed, all-Australian but geared towards Italian varietals. There are a rotating by the glass options available for those who want to try something new.
A recipe from Italian Food Restaurant is featured in The Broadsheet Italian Cookbook. Buy your copy at shop.broadsheet.com.au.