Getting together with a group of friends over slabs of pizza is one of life’s great pleasures. However, Italian dining is so much more than a Margherita. Here are my favourite places in Brisbane for some filling Italian fare.

Beccofino

Beccofino offers relaxed family dining in the heart of trendy Teneriffe, and has long been one of our restaurant favourites thanks to consistently good, authentic Italian food and service with a smile. The calzone stuffed with ricotta, roasted eggplant and pancetta topped with tomato and parmigiano is hard to pass up, as is the spaghetti with South Australian clams, chilli garlic and cherry tomatoes. Good produce is used simply here and the result is a tasty meal that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. From the dessert menu, we like the brioche dumplings with vanilla cream served with ice cream.

10 Vernon Terrace, Teneriffe. Tel: 3666 0207.

Viale Canova

The menu may not be extensive at Viale Canova, but what you do get is authentic Italian that is done well. The antipasti menu includes creative offerings such as grilled quail on polenta, or baked sea scallops in a mushroom, cream and balsamic vinegar sauce. We love the restaurant’s special veal scaloppine with a Marsala sauce, with the tender meat complementing the rich sauce beautifully. For dessert, the baked sweet crepe with custard and fresh fruits with vanilla ice cream is a winner. Food presentation is on the basic side, but you quickly forget about that after your first mouthful.

Corner of Sandgate and Junction Roads, Clayfield. Tel: 3256 1901.

The Rustic Olive

For a place that serves up hearty helpings of pasta, The Rustic Olive is the place to be. Situated on the Redcliffe waterfront, this restaurant delivers on both food and location. A range of calzones are on offer including a classic calzone with chorizo sausage, potato, caramelised onion, tomato herbs and mozzarella. Both the pasta and pizza lists are long, and you would do well to get here early just to give yourself enough time to make a decision. The very moreish fettuccine Florence combines prawns, chicken, avocado, sundried tomato, onion, spinach in a creamy paprika sauce. There is also a penne alla vodka with bacon, pepperoni and onion in a creamy tomato and vodka sauce. 79 Redcliffe Parade, Redcliffe.

Tel: 3889 3199.

Bucci

For excellent Italian in the heart of James St, look no further than Bucci. Stepping into the restaurant you are hit with the gorgeous smells of baking dough, fresh herbs and rich sauces that only Italian cooking can conjure. From the share menu, the stretched curd cheese with a soft creamy centre served with truffled James Street honey, crisp pancetta, blueberries and walnuts is absolutely to die for. Another share item is the slow-braised lamb shoulder smothered in spring herbed sauce, served with wilted seasonal greens. From the dessert menu the light and creamy Queensland semifreddo features a roasted macadamia nut semifreddo with fresh mango.

11/15 James Street, Fortitude Valley. Tel: 3252 7848.

1889 Enoteca

If price isn’t an issue for you, 1889 Enoteca offers an Italian experience to remember in a beautifully styled restaurant. The salads here are creative and delicious, with a peach, mozzarella, basil and vincotto option, or a salad made on Kooringal oysters, prosciutto crudo and rock melon. From the pasta menu, the gnocchi with pork and fennel sausage, parmesan cream and black truffle tapenade tastes just as decadent as it sounds. For dessert, try the beautifully balanced flavours of the chocolate salami, vincotto and raspberry ice cream. Every Friday evening there is an aperitivo session as well serving complimentary antipasti with your prosecco or Campari soda.

10-12 Logan Road, Woolloongabba. Tel: 3392 4315.

Last year, we asked you to tell us about your favourite Italian restaurants — here’s what you voted as the best in Brisbane!