Mina Italian brings a taste of the Mediterranean Coast to Bulimba’s Oxford Street
With ceilings coated in pastel yellow, eye-catching terrazzo bar fronts, white marble table tops and blonde timber furnishings, Mina Italian looks like a restaurant plucked straight from the waterfront promenades of Amalfi. It’s not all looks, though – this newly open eatery from the crew behind La Costa Restaurant & Bar, Cielo, Evita and Lina Rooftop backs up its alluring aesthetics with a menu of traditional and contemporary Italian eats. We’re talking plates of crispy calamari fritti, delightfully jiggly globes of burrata, succulent slabs of slow-cooked porchetta and an assortment of pizzas freshly puffed in the restaurant’s custom-built woodfired oven. Throw in a selection of effervescent spritzes, cocktails and wines and it’s easy to imagine that you’ve miraculously manifested an Italian holiday. Have a gander inside …
While Mina Italian is described as a spiritual successor to Eterna, you’d not think to make a connection between the two upon first glance. Where Eterna celebrated rustic and uncomplicated Roman-inspired fare within its home hidden away at the end of a grungy Fortitude Valley alleyway, Mina’s bright and airy Bulimba locale is a pastel-accented beacon of coastal Mediterranean style and a source of slick new-age nosh. When Eterna closed in December of 2021, owners Stefano De Blasi and Edoardo Perlo’s location hunt led them over the river to Bulimba, where Oxford Street was sizzling with a newfound sense of excitement. Down the street’s river end, Darvella Patisserie had locals beelining for croissants and cruffins, while rooftop bar and restaurant Melrose was reigniting the nightlife with cocktails and a clever take on Indonesian and Thai cuisine. As luck would have it, there was a vacant space next door to these heaving hot spots, but the site’s landlord had one request for the team if they were to take over the coveted space – there must be pizza. Despite the fact that Eterna didn’t boast pizza on its menu, Stefano, Edoardo and Mina Italian co-owners Ross Ledingham and Mario Castro were happy to accommodate – they even decided to use the opportunity to enact a conceptual pirouette and build upon Eterna’s foundations, pairing its traditional-meets-modern expression of Roman cuisine with an expanded offering that better served the Bulimba community. From here, Mina Italian’s vivacious personality began to take shape. Inspired by the glamorous Italian pop singer Mina Mazzini, the team has leaned into the sun-dappled location’s close proximity to water by conjuring a coastal Mediterranean aesthetic courtesy of pastel-yellow ceilings, pink terrazzo textures along the bar and kitchen, leather banquettes, white marble tables and alfresco dining area shaded by chic umbrellas.
Fans of Eterna’s take on robust Roman fare will notice plenty of the restaurant’s DNA informing the menu. Mina Italian’s head chef Joel Walker has been tasked with weaving in traces of Eterna’s essence into the offering here, similarly imbuing the spread with influences from Stefano and Edoardo’s other long-running entity Salt Meats Cheese. The result is a mixture of classic and new-age options that caters to weeknight walk-in customers as ably as it services the weekend dining set. Mina Italian’s sizeable woodfired pizza oven, which was built inside the venue from scratch over labour-filled 12 days, is the kitchen’s centrepiece. It’s tasked with not only cooking the ten-strong list of pizzas, but also administering the finishing touch (the crispy crackling) on its slow-cooked porchetta. Like any good menu, Mina’s starts with small introductory movements such as coal-cooked dry-aged lamb skewers, veal carpaccio and figs with bufala, watercress, vincotto and green olive tapenade before upping the tempo with serves of rigatoni doused in Tasmanian lamb ragu, spaghetti with Mooloolaba prawn and confit duck Maryland nesting on a bed of pappardelle. Soon, Mina’s bistecca di manzo, free-range chicken saltimbocca and osso bucco with polenta bring proceedings to a show-stopping crescendo, which tapers off once more with sweets like banoffee pie, which has been made in collaboration with Darvella next door. If the wine racks adorning the walls or the fully stocked bar failed to indicate, Mina Italian’s beverage list is comprehensive – and also accessible. The wine list features new-wave wines from Australian makers such as Unico Zelo, Koerner and Alpha Box & Dice, as well as Italian wines ranging from stellar sangiovese and primo pinot grigio to the odd big-note barolo. As for cocktails, a clutch of signature concoctions channel Mina’s coastal inspirations, while a trio of spritzes match the restaurant’s bubbly atmosphere.
Mina Italian is now open to the public. For operating hours, booking info and menu details, be sure to pop over to the Stumble Guide.
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