Sunday, 13 January 2008


Vil'laggio is an Italian eatery right next door to Anise on Brunswick Street in New Farm.

When entering Vil'laggio on a Friday night, the first thing that hit me was how busy the place was. The room was buzzing with plenty of people, and the flavours wafting around were terrific.
We were shown straight to our table and given menus and glasses of water straight away, which is always a good start in my book.

I hadn't eaten here before, at least not since it's been Vil'laggio. Vil'laggio now occupies the spot where Indigo's once was. Indigo's was set up by Gillian Hirst, and was one of my favourite spots for a dependably good dinner in New Farm.

Back to Vil'laggio though. Vil'laggio is Italian through and through, aiming to serve up home style, traditional Italian food, including wood fired pizzas. The starters on the menu cover breads (tomato, basil, boccocini & mozzarella bruschetta - $10.95, homemade bread with artichoke, cumin, black olives and rocket, served with a spicy tomato sauce - $11.95 or wood roasted eggplant, tomato, parmesan, fresh basil and boccocini on crusty bread with rocket - $14.95), prosciutto with deep fried ricotta & rocket ($14.95), antipasto ($17.95) and fritto misto di pesce if you are looking for some seafood ($18.95).

It was raining and miserable outside, so we decided to skip the starters and save room for dessert. In hindsight, that didn't turn out to be a good decision, but more on that later.

So it was straight on to main course. There were plenty of things that caught my attention on the menu here. There is a good selection of pasta and risotto ($21.95 to $26.95), traditional Italian mains ($30.95 to $32.95) and wood fired pizzas ($10.95 to $26.95 depending on size).

A couple of the traditional mains jumped off the menu at me. One was the porchetta arrosto su verza brasata con pancetta uvetta e pinoli in salsa di fondo, or wood roasted pork belly, rolled with Italian spices and fresh herbs on sautéed cabbage, pancetta, sultanas and pine nuts with roast potato and vegetable gravy ($31.95). The other was the agnello grigliato su polenta al gorgonzola, or char grilled lamb shoulder medallions on baked polenta with gorgonzola, marinated wood roasted capsicum, garlic and lime, finished with a veal jus ($31.95).

After much debating, I opted for the roast pork, which was fantastic. First of all, it was an enormous serving - slices of the pork, edged with good crackling, sitting on top of gravy covered cabbage, pancetta and roast potato. Although I'm usually not a fan of sultanas in savoury cooking, they fitted in perfectly with the other ingredients. The whole dish worked together beautifully, and it was the perfect hearty dinner for a cold, rainy and windy night. As hungry as I was though, and as good as this dish tasted, I still couldn't finish it.

Our other main was the ravioli di zucca al burro e salvia con pancetta e noci, or pumpkin and feta ravioli in butter, sage, walnuts and crispy pancetta ($24.95). We had the vegetarian version, without the pancetta. Again, this was a generous serving of ravioli. The pasta filling was deliciously tasty, as was the sauce with which it was served. However, 3 or 4 of the fairly large sized ravioli had not been fully cooked, to the extent that the unfilled edges of the pasta were difficult to cut with a knife, let alone chew. That was easily fixed by just cutting off the chewy parts, but its always a bit disappointing to be served obviously undercooked pasta.

We had also ordered a salad of shaved fennel, rocket and parmesan in a balsamic dressing ($7.95) which turned out to be completely unnecessary, given the size of the mains. However it made a nice contrast to both our main meals, and we made a good dent in this simple but sharp and crunchy salad.

At this stage, the service, which had been friendly and spot on, went downhill. Once our mains had been cleared, we sat at our table, with no drinks for 25 minutes, without being even approached by a waiter. We eventually grabbed a waiter and ordered dessert. Although the room had been very busy, by this stage of the evening the room had thinned out, so it was strange that the good level of service fell away.

Unfortunately, the desserts were not worth the long wait. The cannoli ($12.95), apparently the house specialty, was particularly disappointing. Each cannoli was soggy and chewy, lacking the good crunch we had been expecting. They were also served with some pretty average quality vanilla ice cream. Not the way we had hoped to end the meal. I had the white chocolate pannacotta ($10.95), which was ok, but didn't have the good wobbly, custardy consistency that I enjoy in a good pannacotta.

The wine list is fairly compact, but does have a range of both Italian and Australian options. It is also very reasonably priced. We were just drinking wines by the glass, which were brought to the table in glasses, already pre-poured. As someone who particularly enjoys wine, I always prefer for wines to be poured at the table, so that you can always be sure that you are in fact being served what you ordered. Personally I don't think it's that difficult to do and it does make an impression on the customers. However I've noticed more and more restaurants in Brisbane now bringing out pre-poured wine glasses to the table, which is a shame. Vil'laggio's wine list also gets a special mention for including a number of Queensland wines. It's very good to see a busy restaurant such as Vil'laggio supporting the Queensland wine industry.

I haven't yet mentioned the pizzas. We didn't order one, but saw plenty of them being brought out to other diners. They all looked pretty tasty, and include margherita, Siciliana, capricciosa and quattro formaggi. We'll have to try them another time.

Vil'laggio was almost full the night we were there, so it obviously has a fairly solid following. The tastiness of our main meals backs that up. Unfortunately the service and the desserts meant that our night didn't end on the same high note. We eventually left Vil'laggio after 2 and a half hours, having only eaten a main course and dessert each, and only 3 glasses of wine between the two of us. If they can pick up their service and quality of desserts, Vil'laggio would become a very solid traditional Italian establishment.

What does all this mean? Tasty, traditional Italian food, but with variable service.

food bling ratings
Food - OK
Service - OK
Ambience - Busy, modern surroundings. Can be a bit noisy inside.
Value for Money - Good
Wine - OK
Vegetarian - Good

695 Brunswick Street
New Farm 4005
P - 07 3254 0275
W -

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