Turn your back for a moment and there’s progress in this town. At least that’s the case with Treetops Plaza, where a dining precinct is being established on the Eastern face of the plaza in part to help service the area’s future development plans. Restaurants may front out to the car park, however their dining areas open out to a huge verandah area suitable for group dining, shaded from the late afternoon sun.
Rustica Italia is one of the new restaurants to grace this precinct, an aesthetically pleasing venue featuring Roman-style Italian food. The décor includes a wall of plants in pots, genuine face bricks and an open-faced kitchen.
Hanging above the kitchen’s portal the neon sign ‘fatto con amore’, ‘handmade with love’, outlines a philosophy that is revealed seamlessly throughout the venue and its menu. Look inside that space and the kitchen is dominated by the huge, white-tiled dome of a handmade D.O.C Napoli Stefano Ferrara woodfired oven, the king of Italian pizza ovens.
With Chef Tim Huijs at the helm (founder of Don’t Gnocc It) as one of the partners, we know that the food will be exceptional. And it is.
The menu centres around pasta and pizza (with gluten-free options available in both). Entrées, mains and desserts fill in the edges. You’ll find many favourite dishes throughout the menu as well as some newcomers.
Pizza lovers have a choice of white or red base with luxe ingredients – the local favourite Luca’s Byron Bay burrata, fior di latte, braised beef cheek, prosciutto di parma and smoked mozzarella. From simple Margherita to the Diavolo with Rustica’s hot sauce, spicy salami and mozzarella, there are both traditional and innovative pizza options, including vegetarian.
Pasta, (including a choice of gluten-free penne), is plump with filling. Beef cheek ragu with porcini and red wine is rich from slow-cooking. Seafood marinara in a white wine and butter sauce boasts fresh seafood caught by a local Gold Coast trawler. A touch of chilli, garlic and cherry tomatoes bring extra flavour and colour. These are two standards done the chef’s way, but in a move away from tradition there’s also Salmon zucchini pasta with capers, dill and crème fraîche, as well as Chicken and chorizo pasta with caramelised onion and roasted peppers.
Not to be ignored is the gnocchi for which Tim is so famous. Hand-rolled in house, the cylinders of gnocchi are tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Our Pumpkin and goat curd gnocchi is finished in a semolina crumb, so stunning, but I have the two other options in my sights for further visits: Wild mushroom and truffle sauce or Burnt butter with prosciutto and sage.
For those minimising carbs, mains include a Char-grilled half chicken with Romesco sauce and salad, 12-hour slow-cooked beef cheek on truffled mash, 300g dry aged Rib-eye fillet on the bone with chimmichurra and a Woodfired gold band snapper baked with a salt crust and served with a fennel and blood orange salad.
Fully licensed, Rustica Italia carries a range of Australasian and Italian beer and wine, with several signature cocktails on offer. The ‘Lunchtime Special’ is bound to make shopping more enjoyable, offering your choice of pizza, pasta or gnocchi with a glass of wine, beer or soft drink for $20.
Settle back and enjoy live music on Friday and Saturday. With a glass in hand, those family gatherings and work parties are going to be so much easier this season thanks to Rustica Italia.
Rustica Italia, Treetops Plaza, 3 Classic Way, Burleigh Waters, Open daily 11:00 am to late
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Rustica Italia.