Get the first look inside Como – the Italian-inspired restaurant bringing the party to South Brisbane
Brisbane’s dining scene refuses to slow down in the final sprint towards the holidays. One hospitality crew in particular is intent to see the year off in style, opening a swish new restaurant where a party-like atmosphere is part of the appeal. Como Restaurant officially opens in South Brisbane today, Wednesday December 13, showing off a menu of Italian-inspired fare. Come for the glam interiors and serves of wild boar ragu, stay for another round of negroni ice-cream floats.
At this time of year, people usually ease their feet off the proverbial pedal. Not so for the crew behind Como, South Brisbane’s newest restaurant and bar. In fact, on Saturday December 9, members of the Como team were pumping the accelerator of a chic Como-branded Vasto electric scooter, zipping across town and spreading the word of the restaurant’s imminent opening on Wednesday December 13.
Now at the pointy end of a breakneck build process, Enzo Esposito – one of Como’s principal co-owners alongside Gianni Greghini and Tony D’Alessandro – is taking the time to catch his breath. On Saturday, after the scooter finished its cross-city tour, the team blew off some steam with a friends and family opening. The assembled guests road-tested Como’s fun-fuelled, champagne-style dining – an approach the crew hopes will be regarded as Como’s defining feature.
Seated at one of Como’s spacious booths after the fun, the construction industry veteran reflects on the upscale restaurant’s journey to this point, which involved gutting and converting the Melbourne Street site into one of the year’s most attractive new openings. “I gave myself 12 weeks to turn it around,” Enzo reveals. “Everybody told me it was an impossible task, but we just dug deep and we made it happen.”
The full-throttle effort looks to have been well worth it. Gone is any trace of the site’s previous identity as a sushi train – what remains is a striking blend of industrial-tinged opulence. “We wanted something that was rich and sophisticated, but we didn’t want anything that was too close to the cliched Italian trattoria, either,” explains CG Design Studio director Christopher Gyzemyter, who worked on Como’s interior design and branding. “Those small Italian bars, they’re kind of dark and moody and warm, so we embraced this dark burgundy colour throughout the space to give us that sense of richness.”
Guests crossing Como’s entry threshold are immediately greeted by a central bar encased in white marble and the reddish-coloured steel. It’s around this central anchor point that the rest of Como revolves. “The architecture of the space and where we had these four columns dictated that the bar becomes the hero in the middle of the restaurant,” Christopher reveals. “So it is the heart and the gathering place of the restaurant. What that allowed us to do was divide up the dining room a little bit, so people can sit on all sides of the space.”
Along one wall sits a trio of love seats (curvy leather booths ideal for pairs), while further along is Como’s main dining nook – a moody corner boasting cushy banquettes, grey curtains and another pop of maroon. On the opposite side of the room is a strip of booths, each large enough to fit a group. Darker elements like the timber floors and ceilings are paired with lighter materials (think marble, Venetian plaster walls, grey curtains and neutral-toned upholstery) to allow the space to transition nicely from day to night, while statement pieces of decor (including sculptural artworks by Brisbane-based ceramic artist Jess Sellinger) and locally made furniture add more character elements.
There’s no threat of Como being more style than substance – at the kitchen’s helm is Isaia Dal Fiume, an accomplished chef with Michelin-starred experience who was recently chef de cuisine at Bacchus. He’s overseeing a kitchen equipped with all of the bells and whistles, which he’s using to turn out a menu that he describes as recognisably Italian, but just a little bit left of centre.
“It’s not traditional,” Isaia reveals. “It’s modern fine-dining Italian, but right now there’s some fusion with Asian influences.”Isaia’s menu is produce driven, with an abundance of Queensland-sourced ingredients starring from top to bottom. You’ll find snacks like bignes topped with Oscietra caviar, pizza dough focaccia, pan brioche with raw kangaroo loin and small bricks of crispy polenta topped with Urban Valley mushrooms alongside antipasti plates – think crudo (featuring line-caught fish from Cairns), marinated Mooloolaba swordfish with yuzu, coconut and capers, and beetroot tartare with macadamia and mustard.
The portion sizes increase from here, with plates of fresh pappardelle with wild boar ragu, ravioli filled with buffalo mozzarella and spaghetti with champagne lobster segueing into a selection of red- and white-base pizzas cooked in an impressive Marana Forni rotary oven. And then there’s the mains. The likes of Gooralie free-range porchetta with parsnip, wasabi and wattleseed, Cabassi Wagyu fullblood coulotte, and Imperial Blossom wagyu scotch fillets with a marble score of 8–9 fill out the menu’s weightier end alongside a clutch of desserts to finish.
As for vino, Como’s globetrotting wine list (the bulk of which is housed in a bank of fridges at the rear of the venue) is broad. Italian wines are well represented, but so are drops from closer to home. “We’ve got wines from Australia, Italy, France, Spain, America, Argentina – you name it,” says Enzo. Cocktails are a big focus too, with a trip of Como signatures (including the Prodigo Negroni, a decadent riff that’s described as a negroni ice-cream float) sharing menu space with seasonal specials (look for the section titled ‘Oggi al Mercato’, or ‘Today at the Market’) and low-alc temperance-style sips.
As Fish Lane continues to fill in with new eateries and retail concepts, Enzo believes Como is well positioned to become a new bulkhead for South Brisbane’s dining scene. “Fish Lane is an exciting place to be – there are a lot of restaurants up and coming and there are a lot of restaurants already here,” says Enzo, who mentions that long-term plans include adding some alfresco dining in the laneway next year. “Once Croft and Cremorne [Stockwell’s twin Fish Lane residential developments] open up there’s going to be a lot happening here.”
Como Restaurant is officially open to the public. Head to the Stumble Guide for menu details, booking info and operating hours.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.