ITAL­IAN CLAS­SIC

owner now of­fers a chance to spruce up the river­side des­ti­na­tion

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Stellar - - Delicious - 1 Ea­gle St, Bris­bane, il-cen­tro.com.au.

IL CEN­TRO: RE­VIEWED BY ANOOSKA TUCKER- EVANS

IF YOUR restau­rant needed a makeover but was busy ev­ery night of the week, would you ren­o­vate? That’s the ques­tion we asked our­selves at Il Cen­tro.

The city fine diner, loved by the cor­po­rate credit card-car­ry­ing set, was re­cently bought by Cha Cha Char and Jel­ly­fish owner John Kil­roy from long­time restau­ra­teur Andy Ge­orges, who had the Ea­gle Street Pier Ital­ian for 25 years. Kil­roy has vowed to keep the staff and menu the same, but the tired fit-out, well that can cer­tainly go.

Ter­ra­cotta tiles meet par­quet floor­ing in a sim­i­lar shade, while wo­ven chairs tuck into wonky ta­bles, that the pro­fes­sional staff fix with ap­par­ent reg­u­lar­ity. The space is fine, but who wants to set­tle for fine when sweep­ing river views de­mand the venue should be truly spec­tac­u­lar?

The menu of­fers din­ers fa­mil­iar­ity through the clas­sics – think arancini, bar­ra­mundi with oc­to­pus, seafood risotto and scalop­pine, plus the sig­na­ture sand crab lasagne.

Cre­ated in 1992 by then head chef Gillian Hirst, the dish has re­mained on the menu and is still a best­seller thanks to lay­ers of but­ter-soft pasta, sweet crus­tacean and a bisque-like sauce.

Blush­ing pieces of duck prove dif­fi­cult to cut with the blunt steak knife, but ac­com­pa­ni­ments of ex­pertly crafted gnoc­chi – with that elu­sive qual­ity that makes the pasta melt in your mouth – make the strug­gle worth­while.

The tiramisu is another sig­na­ture dish. But while its lay­ers of marsalaspiked mas­car­pone and yield­ing sponge are de­li­cious, the Lean­ing Tower of Pisa pre­sen­ta­tion needs an up­date.

The Ital­ian-heavy, tome-like wine list is, no doubt, partly what keeps this time-stamped restau­rant bustling.

It’s easy to see why Il Cen­tro is such a favourite, but a freshen up would help it con­tinue another quar­ter of a cen­tury.

FROM TOP Tiramisu, the din­ing room, and bar­ra­mundi with oc­to­pus and cele­riac puree.

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