Olivia Italian is a little piece of Italy in the heart of Robina. From owner Sara Artoni’s welcoming smile to the traditional handmade Italian food emerging from her husband Gianluca’s kitchen, the eatery brings us the true flavours of Italy.
Named after the ubiquitous olive trees that grow throughout Italy, Olivia Italian brings us food made with love. After all, love and a dream are the foundations of this restaurant.
Sara’s father, Cesare, always had a dream of coming to Australia. Instead, it would become his daughter’s dream to fulfil after Cesare passed away when Sara was 17 years old.
Sara left her home in Bologna and, after spending a few months learning English in London, she made her way to Australia. Having worked in hospitality since she was 16, she had no trouble finding restaurant work in Melbourne, where she met Gianluca. In 2019, the family relocated to the Gold Coast to give their children a better future.
The vision for Olivia Italian Eatery began in March 2020 as a deli stall on the ground floor of Robina Town Centre, a foothold that saw the family through the tough times of Covid. Filled with delicious Italian food, from artisan sourdough to huge arancini, and focaccia to handmade gnocchi to go, the Olivia deli shop is a favourite ‘go to’ takeaway spot that also introduces people to the food served in the upstairs restaurant.
But it’s upstairs that the real magic happens, where the feeling that you are in a welcoming Italian trattoria in a village somewhere in the Italian countryside is best felt. Opening in October 2020, Olivia Italian has weathered the rough times and come through the other side.
Sara is a welcoming host who likes nothing more than making people feel at home. It’s Gianluca’s version of family recipes that she is showing off – simple well-made food all made from scratch. Fresh pasta is made using a machine they imported from Italy, the pizza and pasta options including gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan.
From antipasto platters (which are great for large groups) to arancini and salads, spaghetti marinara to lasagne, and Nutella pizza to pizza fritti (deep fried pizza dough served with sweet dips), there’s something for everyone.
“I’m so proud of the food we make, so much so that if I’m busy I order takeaway from our own restaurant,” Sara says laughing. “Our kids love it.”
Locals can enjoy lunch special of pizza, pasta or salad for $15. This is a fabulous place for a party, with antipasto, pizza and pasta available for $35 per person for groups.
Fully licensed, the restaurant brews its own beer, imports prosecco from Italy and is well known for its delicious signature cocktails and affogato, the true conclusion to any Italian meal.
The couple recently bought Double Zero Pizza in Broadbeach with partners, the only VPN certified pizzeria on the Gold Coast (Queensland’s only other AVPN member being Tartufo in Brisbane).
In October, they will open Double Zero Robina on the Promenade, Robina, the Marana Forni oven soon to arrive from Italy.
As fabulous as the food is, though, to Sara it is people who are the beating heart of her restaurant.
“I’m also proud to have created a working environment that is safe and protective for our staff,” she says.
Sara is proud of the dream she and Gianluca are making together, tears welling in her eyes as she speaks of her dad and the lessons he taught her.
“He would have been very proud,” she says. “He owned a large trucking business but, despite that, he was a very humble man.
‘We have to start first with the lines on the ground,’ he would say, referring to the chalk line destinations marked out for each of his trucks. ‘Use your heart. Sit down with people and look them in the eye. Admit it when you are wrong.’
These are the lessons I am teaching my kids,” Sara tells me. “That is why he would be proud.”
Olivia Italian Eatery, The Kitchens, Robina Town Centre, 50 Robina Town Centre Dr, Robina Ph: 0478 808 802
Open: Lunch daily from 11am, Dinner Thurs – Sat from 5pm; Deli open daily from 10am
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Olivia Italian Eatery. One photo supplied.