Don’t you love it when a tiny insignificant looking place turns out the best food?
Runaway Bay has just scored an absolute pearler, with Ciccio’s Pizzeria opening on Lae Drive.
Open since mid-May 2022, it’s all too easy to drive around the corner and not see Ciccio’s discreetly tucked away.
But if you do flit on by, you would be making a big mistake. This is no ordinary pizzeria.
Sure, it is a pizzeria and it does turn out fabulous wood-fired pizzas. But when its name gets out, Ciccio’s (literally meaning ‘My sweet’) will be renowned for giving us some of the best Italian food in the area.
As the saying goes, ‘Follow that chef!’, with seasoned restaurateur/chef Tim Huijs (owner of Rustica Italia and founder of Don’t Gnocch It) opening Ciccio’s with his former chef Kyle Bellamy (ex-Buffalo Sears and Degani) as partner and Head Chef. It’s a show of trust and loyalty between the partners, expanding their dining profile of excellent modern Italian cuisine further north.
The shop may look tiny, only seating 20 or so in booths or tables, with more dining space available outside, but one look at the glorious domed pizza oven and you’ll know that these guys are serious.
It’s a Di Vivino Forni, a handmade Italian oven that has been built brick by brick without using any prefabrication, each oven unique, as per old Neapolitan tradition, hand decorated by artists. Di Vivino is one of the approved oven makers for the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN).
Using Caputo 00 flour, Ristoris San Marzano DOP tomatoes and traditional Fior di latte, these modern-style pizzas are fabulous. While there’s nothing quite as elegant as a Margharita pizza, we love the Gamberi with prawns, cherry tomatoes, chilli and garlic, as well as the signature Rustica pizza with pork fennel sausage, potato, caramelised onions and rosemary. Trust me, you must try them!
But let’s not stop at pizza when there are so many other excellent dishes to try. We’re here to taste across the whole menu and we sure give it a good go!
As starters, we love the spicy Sicilian prawns and the tender Calamari fritti. Nona’s meatballs, made from the traditional mix of pork and veal with a spicy arabiata sauce is also a great choice, especially as a winter dish.
Next, we move onto mains, pasta and gnocchi. The Ox tail and pork shin lasagna is a cracker, tender and delicate, served with a delicious rocket and pine nut salad, making it a great meal to share.
There are lots of dishes on this menu that you will want to try, so sharing is caring. Besides, #FOMO!
It’s truffle season and the Fungi and tartufo pasta pairs the heaven-sent match of wild mushrooms and truffles in a rich creamy sauce with pecorino on top. This is Italy on a plate, as also is Gnocchi with burnt butter, prosciutto and sage.
At this point I’m stopping to say that Italian is one of our favourite cuisines. But, let’s face it, what we see as Italian is too often so commercialised that we forget what real Italian food tastes like.
Here it’s the real thing. It’s food to make your heart sing, to reignite your passion for Italian cuisine, and all from a pizzeria.
Perhaps, you will question, ‘Then why are there ribs are on the menu? Ribs are not Italian.’
Try them and you’ll soon realize that these are some of the tastiest ribs you’ve eaten on the Gold Coast. The tender, fall off the bone delicious meat is smothered in a house-made Jack Daniels BBQ sauce we’d love to buy by the bottle (and possibly inhale).
“You don’t want to know how much Jack Daniels goes into the sauce,” Kyle tells us. We can only guess. There’s no evidence left when the board goes to the dishwasher! The board has been licked clean. The ribs come with fries (though the menu doesn’t tell you), but our tip is to ask to upgrade to Truffle and parmesan fries, which are to die for.
We try cannoli, tiramisu and panna cotta for dessert, all delicious, so choose your favourite or share a couple with a mocktail or two to accompany them.
Great modern Italian food is a thing of beauty. With gluten-free options, it’s suitable for families to share. Order your Ciccio’s pizza to take away, but also take time to dine out as a family. Few dishes are above $26, so sharing dishes and with BYO (until the license arrives) it’s a great, affordable option for a night out.
Yes, there’s a kids’ menu, but we’re all for letting young ones try a bit of everything, sharing in adult meals and conversation as part of a community.
Step outside the square to try something new. Who knows? It may just be your next favourite place.
Ciccio’s Pizzeria, 5/123 Lae Dr, Runaway Bay QLD, Ph: 0434 677 913
Open: Mon – Thurs 5pm – 9.30pm; Fri – Sun 12noon – 9.30pm
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Ciccio’s Pizzeria.