Imagine a big Italian family eating dinner together – litres of wine, never-ending chatter, and hands flying all over the table to grab at the mountains of delicious food. This kind of dining is good for the soul, and is what inspired
local restaurateur Andrew Baturo to open River Quay’s rustic-Italian restaurant, Popolo.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY?
I have been in the industry since I was 19 – I started out as a glassy at Friday’s! I opened my first venue in Sydney in 1999.
HOW WAS POPOlO BORN?
Popolo is the Italian word for ‘people’. I looked at restaurants like North Bondi Italian and Hugos in Sydney, as well as the The Godfather movies, and noticed that they always had lots of people sharing food around big tables. Restaurants in Brisbane had become very formal and structured, which was at odds with what Italian dining is all about. I decided to embrace this shared-dining concept, and draw from the diversity of flavours that came from each of Italy’s regions.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISH ON POPOLO’S MENU?
The pumpkin and ricotta ravioli, and our signature free-range pork belly.
WHAT GOURMET TREND HAS INSPIRED YOU RECENTLY?
I am really inspired by Asian fusion, and I am always excited to explore that style of cooking, as we do at Libertine Bar and Restaurant. Australia is a Pacific Rim nation, and we always like to come back to Asian cuisine.
WHAT MAKES POPOLO UNIQUE IN THE BRISBANE FOOD SCENE?
We were the first ones to really consciously focus on shared family-style dining. In essence, we are trying to give a real Italian-style dining experience. Popolo is also committed to presenting regional Italian food, rather than solely focusing on pizza and pasta. The unique location of River Quay is absolutely stunning also!
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT SOUTH BANK?
When the opportunity at River Quay came up, we felt it was a one-off opportunity to be in such an amazing location. The vibrancy and diversity of offerings at South Bank create such an incredible precinct. We felt that South Bank would continue to grow and get more exciting, which it has. River Quay is the perfect location for the Popolo concept.