Knead-to-know – Ramona Trattoria, Coorparoo’s home of handmade pasta and pizza, opens today
Few dishes can claim to be crafted with as much love and care as handmade pasta and pizza. This week Coorparoo welcomes Ramona Trattoria, an eatery that could very well become one of Brisbane’s best sources of traditional Italian fare – the kind kneaded, cut, shaped and served by hand. Owned and operated by a chef with a seriously impressive C.V., Ramona Trattoria is the kind of family-friendly neighbourhood eatery you wish you had in your neck of the woods. Here’s what’s on offer …
Ashley-Maree Kent’s resume reads like a who’s who of Australia’s best restaurants. The New South Wales-born chef has worked in kitchens at restaurants such as Becasse, Restaurant Sojourn, The Bathers Pavilion, Quay, Felix, Uccello, Nomad, Biota, The Farm, and Paper Daisy. One can easily become breathless trying to reel off all of these names in one go, but perhaps two venues that deserve special mention (in regards to having the most profound impact on Ashley-Maree’s recent career trajectory) are renowned bakery US bakery concept Tartine and Coolangatta pasta and wine bar Cross Eyed Mary. When Ashley-Maree joined Tartine in 2014, she quickly fell in love with the bakery’s old-soul approach to using hands – not modern machinery – to mould and shape dough. At Cross Eyed Mary, which Ashley co-owned as worked as head chef, she honed her skillset and further nurtured her love of handmade food, turning it into a popular spot for perfect pasta that was, yes, all kneaded, rolled and shaped by hand. At Ramona Trattoria, Ashley-Maree’s new restaurant that opens today in Coorparoo, the talented chef is once again turning to the old-school methods and traditions of Italian cooking to create a humble community-oriented eatery that specialises in honest, hearty and handmade fare.
“I’ve cooked most of my career in cities,” says Ashley-Maree, when queried on her choice to open Ramona Trattoria in Coorparoo. “I just really wanted to be in a residential area, versus a city.” Though its surroundings are suburban, the 48-seat restaurant sits at the heart of one of Brisbane’s most on-the-rise pockets, joining the likes of Paella y Pa’mi, Shizen Japanese Cuisine and Florence Cafe. The space itself is stylishly informal, boasting a worn-in Tuscan-inspired aesthetic (crafted in collaboration with Space Cubed Design Studio) that harkens to Ashley-Maree’s rustic Italian inspirations – think travertine bar tops and rendered concrete walls offset by timber panelling. The centrepiece of Ramona Trattoria is the open-plan kitchen, purposefully designed so as to foster connection between culinary staff and clientele. “I like the connection with customers, I like people being able to see what is going on,” confesses Ashley-Maree. “If you can do service and work clean while people are watching you, that says a lot more about you than just hiding behind a closed door.” While guests will be able to gaze in wonder as Ashley-Maree and her team artfully shape, cut and extrude dough, eyes will no doubt wander to the impressive custom woodfired oven that dominates one corner of the kitchen. The apparatus, designed and fabricated by Samuel Fraraccio (aka The Brick Chef), is a barrel-vault oven with a low ceiling for faster heating – perfect for crisping up Ramona Trattoria’s selection of pizzette.
At Ramona Trattoria, Ashley-Maree is expanding her repertoire to include a host of dough-based dishes. “I really wanted to get a woodfired oven involved and start playing around with a proper trattoria [concept], instead of focusing on pasta itself,” she says. The chef is also hewing as close to authentic Italian as possible with the restaurant’s offering. “The approach for Ramona is to be solely traditional”, says Ashley-Maree. “It’s like doing a proper bolognese that has milk in it, it has all different cuts of salami through it and tomatoes – it’s a brown sauce, not a red sauce.” In addition to the ragu bolognese, Ramona’s pasta offering also includes ragu di cinghiale (wild boar ragu) with hand-cut pappardelle, triangoli (triangle-shaped ravioli) stuffed with butternut pumpkin in brown butter and sage sauce, and gnocchetti served with Queensland prawns, clams, asparagus, pomodorini and bottarga. Nine kinds of pizzette are available, with toppings including mortadella, pistachio and stracciatella, speck with mushroom and sage ragu, and pork-and-fennel sausage. A tidy list of antipasti offers up classic snacks like cured meats, caponata, Campanian fried mozzarella sandwiches and a chicory salad with Olasgasti anchovies. On the dessert side, Ramon Trattoria is serving sweets like sfogliatella pastry filled with semolina custard, orange and vanilla, alongside gelato and sorbet made in house. The restaurant’s cocktail list has been crafted with the assistance of HOTA’s Tom Angel, with concoctions including Averna and grapefruit highballs, Marionette bitter curacao spritzes and pineapple garibaldis available alongside a 21-strong wine list (boasting a 50-50-mix of new age and old-world wines, most of which are available by the glass) and Menabrea Bionda off tap.
Ramona Trattoria is now open to the public – head to the Stumble Guide for operating hours, menu info and booking details.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.