The menu at Ramona Trattoria channels traditional Italian favourites and changes monthly depending on what’s in season, reflecting head chef Ashley-Maree Kent’s Italian heritage and passion for hand-shaped pizza and pasta. Now she’s brought the same joy and simple, traditional Italian food to Brisbane. Thankfully, much closer to home for us than her previous restaurant at Coolangatta. A wail of disappointment echoed along Griffith Street the last time we visited our favourite Gold Coast holiday spot.
“Where is Cross-Eyed Mary?!?”
Our food loving family wasn’t lamenting the absence of a quirky local character but Kent’s much-loved Gold Coast pasta-wine bar that had long been our go-to and since closed. We wondered aloud where the chef had gone … and then a few months later we found out. She was in Brisbane and had opened Ramona Trattoria less than a 30 minute drive from our house. Even better, the restaurant featured plenty of dishes from Tuscany, one of our favourite regions in Italy, where we had spent plenty of time in towns like Sorano and Pitigliano.
Ramona Trattoria is the newest addition to the bustling dining precinct at Leicester Street, Coorparoo in Brisbane. It may be new but on our Saturday night visit, my husband and I visited, only those with a booking or the lucky few who arrived just at the right time were in luck when it came to getting a table. The 48 seater combines the joy of Italian cooking with the warm and comforting embrace of a much-loved suburban restaurant and already has the feel of a beloved neighbourhood local.
With fabulous food, an indoor-outdoor ambience that suits Brisbane’s climate, professional and welcoming staff, and a drinks list that makes it tempting to catch an Uber home, Ramona Trattoria is impressive and well worth a visit. Trust me, your first won’t be your last. We took a seat at a table on the outdoor terrace under a cosy heater. Sparkling or still water was offered as soon as we sat down, promptly followed by the food and wine menus. Throughout the night, the staff were on point, even when there wasn’t a spare table to be seen either inside or in the outdoor dining area.
We ordered a glass of wine from the list which features an appealing mix of local and international wines plus bespoke cocktails including Ramona’s Martini featuring gin, yellow tomato, black petter vermouth and basil oil. Dishes at Ramona Trattoria are served family-style so we prepared to fill out share plates and kicked off with a classic fiori di zucca and a traditional Neapolitan dish, mozzarella in carrozza.
The stuffed zucchini flowers were always going to be a hit but my husband and dining partner and gluten don’t always get along so the crumbed deep fried mozzarella cheese sandwich was initially only for me. However, one look at its crunchy deliciousness had him reaching for ‘just a small taste’. This turned into another, and another until more than half of the starter was gone. Being a gentleman, he offered me the third fiori di zucca to make up for his demolition of my dish which I gladly accepted.
Pasta is the star of the show so this is what we ordered, although next time we’ll also be trying the pizza – the appealing understudy waiting in the wings – as the pizzas being delivered to other tables looked superb. I had been eyeing off the tonnarelli cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper) which was so deliciously peppery that we couldn’t help sneezing and cleaning our plates we sampled it on a food tour in Trastevere, a medieval neighbourhood in the heart of Rome. However, when I spied the dish below – tonnarelli alla gricia – my order quickly changed. Adding guanciale to an already delicious classic pepper and cheese pasta made it completely irresistible. My dining partner opted for pappardelle generously topped with wild boar ragu and parmigiano reggiano. It didn’t disappoint with the same, rich flavour we remembered from the identical dish we had eaten many times in the tiny town of Pitigliano in Tuscany.
The wait of 15 minutes noted on the menu for the sfogliatelle, a freshly baked, crispy pastry filled with zesty orange and vanilla custard, provided the perfect amount of time to finish our glass of wine before the sweet finish to our meal arrived. Ramona Trattoria might be a long way from Italy but it encapsulates the joy of la dolce vita and a wonderful night out filled with good food, good service, and good times. Even better, the prices on the menu aren’t in Euros.
Disclosure: The writer dined as a guest of Ramona Trattoria and is already planning a return visit to dine at this restaurant at her own expense.
If you’re looking for accommodation in Brisbane, we have reviewed the Treasury Hotel, The Calile, Ovolo The Valley, W Brisbane, Capri by Fraser Brisbane, Hilton Brisbane, The Johnson, NEXT Hotel Brisbane, Sage Hotel James Street, The Westin Brisbane, Oaks Brisbane Festival Suites, Royal on the Park, Ibis Styles Elizabeth Street, Sofitel Brisbane, Crystalbrook Vincent, The Inchcolm by Ovolo, Alex Perry Hotel & Apartments, and Pullman Brisbane Airport.