Brisbane doesn’t lack for great Italian food. You suspect, though, that star restaurateurs Ben Williamson, Tyron Simon, Bianca Marchi and Frank Li would never claim to do the best Italian in town. What you can count on is them doing something different.
Bianca is different. Conceived during Covid-19, it’s perhaps best not to think of it in terms of Brisbane’s Italian scene but in the context of the group’s other restaurants, which include Agnes, Honto and Same Same. Agnes is an exceptional dining experience – wonderful woodfired food served by smiling-assassin floor staff – but it feels like a serious restaurant. Bianca, with its playful pasta characters, curly graphics and monogrammed plates, is something entirely different.
In terms of the physical space, Bianca feels similar to near neighbour Same Same, with in-demand architects Richards & Spence once again handling the design. Bianca mimics its sister venue’s long dining room, open-air front bar and upstairs private dining room, but goes giddy with the details. The tiled treatment of Los, Same Same’s upstairs bar, has been extended to the entirety of Bianca, from the floors to the walls to the countertops. The whole venue is bathed in a peachy glow, its bright orange branding inspired by the distinctive acrylic-handled Sabre Paris cutlery.
For food, Williamson has designed a straightforward menu of snacks, entrees, seven house-made pasta dishes and a clutch of main courses. The pastas are intended to rotate, although always on the menu will be a paccheri pomodoro with stracciatella, and a pork and fennel lasagna made popular by Agnes’s pop-up bakery. The kitchen also features a separate antipasti section that’s serving up plates of buffalo mozzarella, pickled sardines, mortadella, pork and fennel salami, and marinated mushrooms. Finally, there’s that Instagrammable dessert list, which is backed by the restaurant’s knockout punch – an Italian-made Carpigiani soft-serve gelato machine.
For drinks, group sommelier Rani Parish and Bianca sommelier Millie Gosney have collaborated on a 350-bottle list that focuses on Italian wines and local vino made in an Italian style. There’s also a lengthy back bar of spirits imported from the peninsula that’s helping fuel an Inglourious Basterds-themed cocktail list that features names such as Si … Er Correcto, Gorlami, and the Hugo Stig-Spritz.