Monday, 1 July 2013

Colle Rosso Ristorante Italiano, Red Hill

Pizza is a food that I've always wanted to like but never really connected with. I love making it at home, but for that one or two times that you made THAT AWESOME PIZZA, the rest are just kind of... good. Pizzas in restaurants are often either completely flavourless once you remove the cheese, regardless of how much else is left on the pizza (it's a great test of the quality of their ingredients: cheese masks a multitude of sins), and don't even get me started on takeaway (though Matt is still trying to convince me that Eagle Boys make a great vegetarian pizza!).

The only other place that I really enjoy pizza is at Vinnies in Newmarket (get the vegetarian pizza and the pepperoni pizza without pepperoni and cheese but with mushrooms and caramelised onion (honestly, delicious)), and I thought that would be the end of it. Then, about 6 months ago, we were taken to the recently opened Colle Rosso in Red Hill by Natascha.

Matt ordered the margarita pizza and I sighed: hurrah for tomato and basil. I imagined I would be hungrily scrounging for something to eat later that night. When the pizzas were ready, I was not disappointed in my disappointment: a great disk of tan pizza base and red sauce, with a few basil leaves on top. Oh well, the show must go on. I sighed again (I sigh a lot because my life is so bitterly disappointing), and took a bite of a piece.


I think I nearly choked in shock. HOW CAN IT BE SO DELICIOUS.

Between the two of us, the pizza disappeared very quickly (perhaps a little too quickly), and it was all I could do to not run back and order another one or five.

Since that evening, we have returned many times, always for takeaway pizza. But, though I had raved to my family about it, they'd never been there, so I decided that that should be rectified, and decided to go there for my birthday.

My favourite: parmigiana (senza formaggio)

Mum and my sister are wheat-free, and both were very pleased to discover they had a gluten free pizza base. Mum and I both got pizza (I got the eggplant parmigiana) and we all shared a bottle of the house white. Of course, my pizza was absolutely stunning (and nice to have it warm and on a plate rather than takeaway, as I'd always had before!) but I had nothing on Mum. She looked like all her Christmases had come at once and instead of having to rush around and cook she was just able to get massages and lie by the pool reading.

Any wheat- or gluten-free person will tell you that buying pizza out is not much of an option: there's either no gluten-free base, or it's like cracker. Not the case at Colle Rosso! Despite not being a big eater, Mum polished off 3/4 of the pizza before finally my sister managed to grab a piece and try it for herself. Both agreed it was the best gluten free base they'd ever tasted (and didn't taste gluten free). Unfortunately, the gluten-free base contains egg so isn't appropriate for gleegans or egg-allergic gluten-free-ers.

We then moved onto dessert. Unfortunately, the only vegan dessert option is sorbet, but there are a number of gluten-free options. I asked if anything else was dairy- and egg-free, but it seems that the "egg-free" part was missed and I ended up with zabaione gelato. Thankfully, it was accompanied by a a sparkler and a delightful rendition of Happy Birthday by the staff.

I ended the evening with the best espresso martini I have had in Brisbane (and I have had a lot of them).

Needless to say, my family returned just a couple of weeks later (and I'm sure will again very soon).

Colle Rosso has quite an extensive menu, covering pizza, pasta, antipasti and quite a range of desserts. Gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian items (or items that can be made gluten- or dairy-free) are marked on the menu. Some pasta (linguini and gnocchi) and all pizza (except calzone) are available gluten-free (though I believe all pasta, gluten-free or not, contains egg): gluten-free pizza is an extra $4, gluten-free pasta (where available) is an extra $3. If you are getting pizza, don't be afraid to ask for it without the cheese: as much as you may not believe me, the pizza base and sauce are delicious enough to eat by themselves and only need minimal accompaniment. Their take-away menu includes all of their pizzas, a few of their pasta dishes, three salads, and a kids menu.

Their drinks menu includes a good wine list, about half of which are available by the glass, a solid cocktail list (all I've tried have been excellent), a number of spirits, as well as variety of non-alcoholic drinks (including tea and coffee).

As always, staff were extremely friendly and helpful. I imagine it would get quite noisy on busy nights, but it's been quiet when we've been there.

No matter where you are in Brisbane, Colle Rosso is well worth the trek (and if you live inner-West/-North, you have NO EXCUSE, especially since it's open every night). Truly exceptional and authentic (in very sense of the word) food.

Colle Rosso Ristorante Italiano
191 Musgrave Road, Red Hill
3369 7417 |

Mon-Thurs, Sat-Sun: 5pm - 10pm
Friday: 12pm - 10pm

Colle Rosso has plenty of inside seating, and though we made a reservation, there were plenty of free tables (we went on a Monday night, so if you're looking to try it, go then, when it's quiet!). There is only limited parking out the front, but if you turn down Storie Street (right beside Colle Rosso) there is parking out the back (entry either by walking back up Storie St or up the stairs). Bathrooms are downstairs so are not wheelchair accessible.

Colle Rosso has been reviewed on Brisbane Devoured and Eat, Drink + Be Kerry, and has been reviewed a number of times on Yelp and Urbanspoon. It is also featured in the Queensland Good Food Guide 2013 and on the Good Food website.

Colle Rosso Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon


  1. That's a great review :) Vegan pizza is very hit and miss, more heavy on the miss!

    1. Thank you! It's a fabulous place: I could pretty much eat there every night. And you're so right: you can always see waitstaff get a little nervous when you say "no cheese" and then it comes out and there's 1 piece of pineapple and maybe a slice of potato and the base is like cardboard and the sauce may as well not be there. So it's great to have a place where EVERYTHING is delicious.

  2. Ciao James, GRAZIE for your AMAZING REVIEW!!
    It's always a pleasure to have you and your lovely family at the restaurant!!

    1. Thank you for your AMAZING restaurant! I can't tell you how fortunate we are to have you in Brisbane, let alone 5 minutes away! We will certainly be back again soon (and again, and again...)

  3. I love Italian, but you sold me on the espresso martini. It's "my" drink too. I love The Bowery's and Lock and Load's. Can't wait to try this one.

    1. The espresso martini really is something else. So good. And after an amazing meal, there can be no better dessert! Hope you enjoy it :)

  4. I choose to avoid wheat, and prefer to avoid dairy, so pizzas are a bit tricky. However, I do like The Burrow's work in this genre; yes, the GF base is a bit thin, but not bad (I'm sometimes not fussy) and my wife often settles for no base at all, which means you get a huge bowl of salad-y pizza topping, and she loves it. They also have a good range of gorgeous/dangerous beer on tap, and a huge bottled range (including GF). If you haven't tried the Burrow, we must, some time (and I must try Colle Rosso as well). RSVP... ;-)


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