Life’s a feast at Bacaro.

“In heaven, after antipasti, the first course will be pasta,” said singer songwriter Steve Albini.

Indeed, heaven could look much like this… the warmest welcome, antipasti and pasta washed down with fine Italian wine.. life is grand indeed!

Bacaro is an airy café in the emerging M Arts precinct in Murwillumbah, the country town that has it all – a beautiful position on a hillside surrounded by verdant rolling pastures, abundant food from surrounding farmlands, the cutest retro cinema and a flourishing art community.

Italian owners Giorgia (front of house) and Luca (the chef) stepped away from their positions at Mavis’s Kitchen and Tweed Art Gallery Café to open their own place, bringing with them a lot of goodwill from locals.

Bacaro, the equivalent of a ‘trattoria’ in Venice, is a casual bar and eatery, open all day during the week, extending to dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. With tables running into the gallery alongside and out under the veranda, it’s a very pleasant place to enjoy breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or anytime ‘grazing’ – Venetian-style food made with love to be shared. After all, why restrict your tastes to one dish!

We start with an abundant antipasto board featuring Salumi Australia’s prosciutto and salami, Venetian Parma prosciutto, local crackers from ‘Sunrise Sourdough’, cheese from Tweed Valley Whey, olives from Luca’s tree, and Luca’s delicious ‘zucca in saor’ (traditional sweet and sour pickled pumpkin with onions). $18.90

Next comes my ‘dish of the day’, a typical Venetian Cansunziei: organic ravioli with beetroot, cooked in organic butter and poppy seed. Served with a rocket salad, the ravioli yields easily to the fork. Exquisite and unmissable! ($19)

Scallops make an impressive entrance, baked on the shell with a perfectly balanced coating of fresh parsley, garlic and breadcrumbs ($17). Oh, so delicious!

We also love the risotto with fresh asparagus, perfectly al dente as it should be, but seafood’s our love, so we’ll be back for Risotto with squid and clams, a ‘must do’ at $23 for two!

We leave room for shared desserts, including a traditional delicate tiramisu (‘lift me up’) without added sugar and a moreish house limoncello to finish… and there are so many other dishes that demand a return visit: Gnocchi Zola e Formaggi, Aranchini with salsa verdi, Eggplant Parmigiana (just three of the vegetarian choices) or Nonna’s recipe for meatballs or polpette… and then we see that Luca’s parents are in the kitchen.

Owning a restaurant in Venice for over forty years, of course they wanted to travel from Italy to witness Bacaro’s opening, working alongside Luca in the kitchen just as he worked beside them while growing up in the family restaurant.

Bacaro (taken from the name of Bacchus, the god of wine) is licensed, serving very well-priced Australian wine, cocktails and beers (including from locals – Ink Gin, Brookies and Stone & Wood), and to our delight there’s a ‘Special Cellars’ list of Italian wines, two by the glass to serve as the ‘ombra’ or shadow behind the food. Beside a Prosecco, Soave and Montepulciano, we choose the 11 Minutes Rosé from the 100-year old Famiglia Pasqua’s Venetian vineyard, a bit hard to source in Australia. With notes of strawberries, citrus, and jasmine, it’s perfect summer drinking and one of the best rosés we’ve tasted, so it’s well worth trying it here.

Back to local, coffee is from Italian heritage, locally roasted Zanetti Coffee and tea from the Madura Plantation in the hills above the restaurant. (If you want a real treat, try the hand-rolled Dragon Pearls, a premium green tea infused with pure jasmine flowers, the leaves gently unfurling in the pot.)

“In Venice you stole a kiss from me to tweak my heart,” the menu says, and after we have feasted at Bacaro we carry that heartfelt love with us, in no doubt that we’ll be back again soon.

1 Brisbane St, Murwillumbah, NSW Ph: 0499146578

Open: Mon – Wed 7.30am – 3.30pm, Thurs, Friday 7.30am – 9pm, Sat 7.30am – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 9pm.

NOTE: On Fridays from 4 – 6pm, Bacaro has a ‘cocktail hour’ with free cicchetti or nibbles served with the purchase of cocktails, wine and beer.

Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Bacaro.

Open: Mon – Wed 7.30am – 3.30pm, Thurs, Friday 7.30am – 9pm, Sat 7.30am – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 9pm.
1 Brisbane St, Murwillumbah NSW 2484, Australia