The revitalisation of Jupiters Hotel & Casino continues with the ‘kitchen of life’, Cucina Vivo.
Part of the hotel’s $345 million redevelopment, Cucina Vivo is the first restaurant to take advantage of Jupiters’ newly renovated pool. The outdoor terrace is intended to be reminiscent of the cliff-top restaurants of the Amalfi Coast. I can’t say I’ve been to the Amalfi Coast myself, but I suspect their cliff-top restaurants don’t overlook hotel pools — regardless, it’s a lovely pool and it certainly helps to set the relaxed mood.
If, like us, you can’t score a table on the terrace, don’t worry — the interior’s not too shabby. It’s downright beautiful, in fact, maintaining the high standard set by Kiyomi next door (design firm Luchetti Krelle have worked their magic on both venues). It’s a perfect setting for those looking to impress on date night, and the Italian aromas emanating from the open kitchen (highlighted by a two-metre long wood-fired pizza oven) are to die for.
With those aromas overwhelming our senses, we had to get the Schiacciata; a garlic flatbread spread with pesto verde and topped with a liberal sprinkling of Parmesan. The pesto tastes fantastically fresh, and while the bread is significantly thicker than you’d expect from a flatbread, it’s incredibly satisfying — that wood-fired oven has been put to good use.
The wine list offers an exhaustive selection of Italian and Australian drops, but it’s not what we’re after tonight — my partner opts for cocktails, highlighted by The Jaguar in Rome (a potent blend of Tequila, Aperol and grapefruit), while I go for Italian beers, highlighted by the Birra Moretti (a golden lager that always goes down smooth).
For my entrée, I go with the oven-braised Wagyu beef meatballs, a hearty winter dish just like your nonna used to make. (Probably. I don’t know, my grandmother isn’t Italian. She bakes great cakes, though.) Loaded with fresh herbs and slathered in a delectable tomato sauce, the meatballs are far more filling than any ‘entrée’ deserves to be.
My partner opts for the Carpaccio — delicate, thinly sliced eye fillet seared and served with lemon, arugula and Parmesan. The textures are on point; it’s a winner.
With all the pasta being made fresh in-house, I have to try the Fettuccine Bolognese. It’s great, and it’s a very generous serving — on the whole, you’re never going to see Cucina Vivo on a list of the Gold Coast’s best ‘cheap eats’ (and nor is that their aim), but at just $16, this particular dish really is great value.
My partner’s Costolette d’Agnello (the lamb rack), however, doesn’t fare as well in the value stakes. It’s perfectly cooked, but at $45, it’s just too small for the price, and the fluffy gnocchi clouds that accompany it leave us with the impression that we should have gone with the Gnocchi Trifolati dish instead (which is exactly what you should do, if you happen to be torn between the two).
After the mains, the exceedingly friendly and helpful wait staff talk us into trying two desserts — the Flavours of Italy, and the already infamous Cioccolato Rosso Ferrari.
The Flavours of Italy is a fun tasting plate boasting five desserts — two types of Gelato, Tiramisu, Zuppa Inglese and Panna Cotta. The Panna Cotta is our favourite, but there’s not a dud in the selection, and these small glasses are perfect to share after all this food.
On the other hand, we just haven’t left ourselves enough room for the Cioccolato Rosso Ferrari, but this one is all about the aesthetics, anyway. Presentation is the key here — the Stracciatella ice cream is surrounded by a Ferrari red chocolate sphere; the waiter then pours a warm grappa chocolate sauce over the sphere, making for a spectacular effect.
Once the sauce hits the sphere, it firms up, and you have to crack it open to get to the ice cream, which is incredibly rich and decadent — a little too rich and decadent, for my taste, after everything else we’ve already indulged in, and I have to call it a night here.
Cucina Vivo is a welcome addition to the Gold Coast’s dining scene, and worth making a trip to Jupiters for (even if you don’t plan on staying at the hotel).
It’s open for dinner seven days a week from 5:30pm and for lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon. For more information, visit our dining guide.
Disclaimer: The author dined as a guest of Jupiters Hotel & Casino.