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Sasso Italiano menu

Sasso Italiano in Brisbane blends old school Italian hospitality and dishes just like Mama used to make with a dash of sophisticated urban style. Housed in Woolloongabba’s South City Square precinct, the restaurant encapsulates the energetic Italian eateries of the 70s (thankfully, minus the eye watering orange and brown colour scheme) with delicious food, low lights, welcoming staff, a buzzing ambience, and a drinks list that makes it tempting to catch an Uber home.

Sasso Italiano in Woolloongabba
Sasso Italiano in Woolloongabba

On our mid-week visit, 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. Sasso already has the feel of a beloved neighbourhood local. The menu channels traditional Italian favourites like house made pastas, charcuterie, and pizzas from the restaurant’s woodfire oven crafted from Mount Vesuvius lava stone which was also popular for pick up orders.

We took a seat on the long banquette under the window with a prime view of the restaurant and the rain tumbling down outside. Complimentary 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.

Sasso Italiano interior
Inside Sasso Italiano

We ordered a glass of wine from the list which features an appealing mix of natural wines and cocktails alongside an extensive Negroni menu which offers – among other things – a birth-year based Negroni. Birra Cazino, which is one of the first Italian-style lagers crafted in Australia and brewed exclusively for Sasso Italiano, is also available. It’s impossible not to find something you like on this well-crafted list which also includes a sophisticated selection of non-alcoholic options for non-drinkers and duty drivers.

Dishes at Sasso Italiano are served family-style so we kicked off with two classics – polpette (meatballs) and arancini – to share.  The meatballs were always going to be a hit but my husband and dining partner loathes peas as much as I adore eating them so the pea and mint arancini were initially only for me. However, one look at their crispy deliciousness had him reaching for ‘just a small taste’. This turned into another, and another until almost all of the arancini were gone. This has to be the first time in 25+ years of marriage that I have seen my husband voluntarily consume peas. Yes, the arancini are that good.

Sasso Italiano starters
Polpette and arancini

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We skipped the traditional Primi (entrée) pasta course and went straight to mains, choosing the dry hangar aged steak sliced into strips and topped with marrow butter and a generous summer salad featuring mint and flat leaf parsley. The herb salad was the perfect foil for cutting through the richness of the dish but there was so much of it on ours that we had to clear a path Survivor-style to get the steak.

Sasso Italiano steak
Steak and truffle fries

Generous crumbed pork cotoletta was served simply with a sprinkling of red pickled onion, pecorino and watercress and encapsulated the philosophy of my favourite restaurants in Italy – simple, traditional food done well. The side of truffle fries, topped with truffle pecorino cheese and served with a side of aioli, disappeared more quickly than a Ferrari trying to outrun the polizia. It was one of those dishes that even though you know you’re already quite full, you can’t help having ‘just one more’.

Pork cotoletta
Pork cotoletta

A creamy Golden Gaytime panna cotta, a new addition to the dessert menu which otherwise favours Italian classics like cannoli, bomboloni, and gelati, provided a sweet finish with an Aussie twist. Sasso Italiano might be a long way from Italy but it encapsulates the joy of la dolce vita with a wonderful night out filled with good food, good wine, good music, and good times. 

Golden Gaytime panna cotta
Golden Gaytime panna cotta

Disclosure: The writer dined as a guest of Sasso Italiano and is dreaming of a return trip to Italy.

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.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.