South Bank Favourite Popolo Reopens With a New Look and a Refined Menu of Italian Comfort Food


A search back again at the opening of Popolo 10 years back is a appear again at the right before periods of Brisbane’s cafe scene. James Street was in its infancy as a eating destination, Fish Lane (as we now know it) hardly existed. Howard Smith Wharves was not much far more than a handful of heritage-listed structures in a vacant lot scattered with detritus from the 2011 floods.

Even the way we ate was diverse, with shared eating a novelty, says Popolo co-owner Andrew Baturo.

“Italian society, and points similar to Italian pop lifestyle, constantly have that big power with households coming with each other about supper and plonking every little thing down on the desk,” he suggests. “Everyone’s serving everyone, there are massive jugs of wine. There is that real family atmosphere. But when I seemed all over Brisbane, couple of persons were being accomplishing that. It was primi and secondi, entrees and mains – it was all very structured. Shared eating hadn’t taken off yet.”

In the past decade’s bum rush of new dining places, it is easy to undervalue Popolo’s tranquil impact – significantly in the very first five yrs soon after it opened. Named right after the Piazza del Popolo in the centre of Rome, it was an Italian restaurant that designed shared dining feel fully natural in this metropolis, and it speedily grew to become a lynchpin in the South Bank’s River Quay Eco-friendly dining precinct.

“It’s been so well known about the a long time, but it took a minimal though,” Baturo claims. “It stuck out a tiny little bit down below. South Lender was still extremely a great deal orientated in the direction of the other conclusion of the parklands, article-Expo 88. It took a when for folks to realise they have a definitely excellent dining precinct that is not in the CBD or the interior suburbs.”

Now, of program, shared dining is in all places. Italian is just about everywhere. Terrific restaurants are everywhere. Popolo reopens this 7 days just after a protracted a few-month refurbishment, but you ponder if Baturo and co-homeowners Paul Piticco and Denis Sheahan (who, collectively, individual DAP & Co, which also operates The Gresham and Walter’s Steakhouse) ever deemed retooling the restaurant as a thing else totally.

“I have an understanding of why you may possibly request that but we have 10 years of trial and error at the rear of us and 10 decades of celebrations. There is a fondness for this position,” Baturo suggests. “Popolo’s a solid model and it’s been genuinely comforting and also humbling to see the quantity of people today on social media asking, ‘When are you gonna open up? We cannot hold out to come back again down.’”

A refurbishment, nevertheless, is an chance for reinvention, and this is incredibly a great deal “Popolo 2.0”, as Baturo calls it. About the only matter the identical is the open-air structure and the cracking sights throughout the river to the city. Absent is the themed healthy-out with its red neon and wall art, replaced by a considerably extra understated treatment method of terracotta tiles, arched mirrors and a parquet flooring imported second-hand from a heritage procuring centre in France (it was “unbelievably pricey, I don’t even want to talk about it,” Baturo says, laughing). It’s light, dazzling and in harmony with the outside the house green place, and reflects DAP & Co and Baturo’s confidence just after 10 yrs of building dining places and bars.

The foods has been refined way too. Catching the eye amongst the tiny plates are generate-led dishes these kinds of as braised baby octopus with purple wine, Ligurian olives and lemon mascarpone, and truffled burrata with olive oil and toasted bread. The small choice of pizza stays but the mains have been presented a additional sophisticated do-in excess of. Carried throughout from the previous menu are a pappardelle with braised duck-leg ragu and Grana Padano, and a linguine dish that matches Moreton Bay bug with a spanner crab and lobster bisque. But there’s also cappellacci filled with buffalo mozzarella and burnt butter in a pumpkin puree with pancetta and toasted almonds, and conchiglie (shell pasta) with pork and fennel sausage and spicy cime di rapa (broccoli rabe). Other huge plates contain Skull Island prawns with garlic, chilli, capers and a butter-lemon sauce roasted spatchcock with olive oil, lemon, garlic, very hot spices and rosemary and Wagyu rump tagliata with Tuscan kale, cannellini beans and aged vincotto.

“Our chef, Francesco [Vitagliano] – his food stuff is just extraordinary,” Baturo claims. “There’s a degree of authenticity to it. Individuals have come out of Covid and they weren’t getting their steak from Woolies, they have been purchasing it from us at Walter’s. They were going as a result of the roof in terms of what they had been treating themselves to and they’ve arrive out of the pandemic declaring, ‘You know what? I like Dom [Perignon]. I like a fantastic steak. I like natural and organic this and sustainable that.’

“What you set on the plate now needs to be elevated. It would have to be anyway – there are so several fantastic Italian restaurants opening in this metropolis. We’re competing with people guys.”

For beverages, there’s a mix of imported Italian and local craft beers, a jazzed-up cocktail record that consists of a Negroni of the 7 days, and a 75-bottle wine checklist that prioritises drops sourced from across the Italian peninsula.

Nevertheless, Baturo suggests, the spirit of Popolo hasn’t modified. It nonetheless feels snug. It even now feels approachable, as suitable for families as it is couples eating at the two-tops future to South Bank’s Clem Jones Promenade.

“We have an understanding of our consumer genuinely perfectly down listed here,” he claims. “We know it is not James Street. We know it is not Riverside. We go where the consumer feels comfy and never ever condescend to them. That’s what you’d come to feel like when you go to your nonna’s household. You sense cozy. You truly feel like you are among close friends.”

3 Sidon Street, South Brisbane
(07) 3846 7784

Several hours:
Wed–Sun 12pm–late


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