By S Haslam
Bangalow is a great place to meet friends for dinner, because it’s about 20 minutes from everywhere, unless of course you’re from Bangalow in which case you’re lucky to have a place like The Italian Diner in your town. And the feeling seems to be reciprocated, with owners Peter and Camille Timbs and family living just four minutes’ walk from work and loving the Bangalow vibe.
‘We had two restaurants in the Brisbane CBD before we moved here. They were quite frantic, but here in Bangalow it’s a slower pace and we can spend more time with the customers; we really enjoy that,’ says Peter.
‘The best thing about living and working in Bangalow is that when we moved we felt part of the community straightaway. That’s important for your health in this industry, when you work when everyone else is socialising’.
Unusually, Peter has combined working in the media with hospitality. His last gig was on breakfast radio at MMM in Brisbane and freelancing for Who magazine and New Idea. ‘Before that I worked in the media for 15 years in Sydney doing morning TV and radio, which meant I had the rest of the day to work in hospitality.’
During our visit to The Italian Diner we felt we could relax and just have a good time. I’d recommend starting with the beautifully smoky arancini balls, or the beef carpaccio. The wine list is simple but balanced, with many Italian varieties and 90 per cent of them are by the glass. Peter told us, ‘At the moment we are offering an amazing Fiano, made in Australia although it is an Italian grape variety. It’s a fuller bodied white wine, a bit like a chardonnay, but not buttery or oaky. We also have a Sardinian Vermentino, made from older vines, with a mineral character that goes well with any seafood.’
And indeed the wine went beautifully with Spaghetti Vongole, made with white wine, garlic, and clams, and a ‘market fish’ special that has proved so popular it’s now made it to the menu permanently: Aqua Pazza (literally it means crazy water). It’s a fresh and clean way of cooking fish, poached in shaved fennel, olives, cherry tomatoes, and fish stock (originally in Italy it was cooked in seawater).
They say that you should only order dessert when it’s something special. I’d recommend the chocolate mousse dessert, or my choice of ‘deconstructed’ strawberry panna cotta with raspberry compote and biscotti crumb. Peter orders local produce where possible, including the Brookie’s Mac macadamia nut liqueur, which gives a local twist to the traditional Italian affogato.
If you like the idea of al fresco Italian lunches overlooking the town – and in spring who doesn’t – this month sees a special $29 pasta-and-wine lunch with a pinot gris or a montepulciano, perfect for enjoying a taste of Italy in Bangalow.
The Italian Diner.
37 Byron St, Bangalow.
Open Wed–Sun for lunch and dinner.
ph 6687 2247.