After a three-year renovation, King & Godfree’s gleaming glass doors reopened at the end of 2018, with a gourmet deli and grocer and a casual espresso bar joining gelateria Pidapipo on the ground floor, and Johnny’s Green Room opening on the roof. Combined they create a multistorey monument to Italian drinking and dining. In May 2019, wine bar Agostino joined the troupe, completing the puzzle.
The compact menu will always include some salumi (try the Wagyu bresaola with shaved artichoke, or the culatella, a punchy Italian ham served with thinly sliced salted persimmon), a handful of house-made pastas – spaghettini with crab and Moreton Bay bugs, maccheroni (similar to large penne tubes) in a creamy vodka-tomato sauce, gnocchi with gorgonzola and radicchio – and a few larger plates.
Seafood makes repeat appearances: Moonlight Flat oysters, raw tuna crudo with capers and chilli, grilled octopus with spicy ‘nduja. A brodetto (seafood stew) comes packed with cuttlefish, mussels, clams and prawns.
Each dish arrives with one or two simple accompaniments. Nothing is overly embellished.
Tarts and cakes are on display at the bar atop custom-made ceramics by local artist Shari Lowndes, or order nougat semifreddo, millefoglie (layers of puff pastry) with candied apple, or almond-milk pannacotta with rhubarb from the dessert menu.
Select at the bottle shop next door and drink it in the dining room for $20 corkage, or explore the mix of new and old drops on the wine list. The list spans natural and not-so-natural wines from Italy and Australia, with some of the harder-to-find wines sourced from the old bluestone cellar below the restaurant. It holds them in a temperature-controlled room alongside a 50-person private event space.
Among the 180-plus bottles on offer, back vintages of rare Piedmontese barolo and barbaresco can be enjoyed by the glass thanks to a Coravin (a mechanism that pours wine without removing the cork), so you can enjoy a glass without splurging on a whole bottle. Wine on tap includes a garganega produced exclusively for Agostino.
Award-winning architect and interior designer Chris Connell is behind the sultry, stylish space. It’s a sunken dining room that feels almost subterranean. Neutral, earthy colours and textures are seen in olive leather banquettes, gunmetal-steel wine shelving and the occasional marble tabletop, or hint of an original bluestone wall.