The shores of Burleigh Heads are awash with masterchefs, our latest additions being husband and wife team Chef Fabio Rocco Ricciardo and his wife Federica Scalambra, a former pharmicist. Former chef to Ferrari’s Formula 1 team for three years, Fabio left the circuit to move to our shores, opening Belvedere Stonemill on the ground level of the Swell building.
Hailing from Modena and Ferrara in Italy, the couple have opened a trattoria with a difference, as epitomised by its name.
Belvedere Stonemill is all about tradition: the tradition of doing things from scratch and doing them well. ‘Belvedere’ is the historical home of Fabio’s family where his grandfather has ground his own wheat since 1959. Even today, his family still operate a restaurant in Modena, begun when Fabio was a baby. The ‘Stonemill’ refers not only to Fabio’s grandfather, but also to the stone mill, on order from Italy, with which the couple will grind organic flour to be used for all their breads, pizzas and pasta in the restaurant.
Focussed on inspiring healthier living through healthy choices, the couple talk flour like a sommelier talks wine. They emphasise how much better Central Queensland’s ancient organic grain KAMUT® khorasan is than processed product. Unchanged through modern plant breeding programs, when stoneground to flour, khorasan remains unbleached by chemical processes, contains higher fibre and nutrients, higher protein and lower carbohydrate and gluten which is more digestible than other flours, the grain remaining cold during the grind so it doesn’t burn.
Drawing on the methods, traditions and recipes of generations, the couple make everything in house. While pizza and pasta are commonplace to us, some of the dishes on this menu are rarely seen on the Gold Coast, such as gnocconi, passatelli and focaccia barese cooked in an oven dish.
There’s nothing more rustic than food handmade from scratch, and no more important lesson to be learned in a world where sustainability is an imperative. Making food is a sign of love and endurance, as well as a spectacle. Food doesn’t begin in a packet! It comes from a seed planted in the soil, producing grain to be ground before it becomes food.
Although the volcanic rock stone mill is still on its way from Italy, when you enter the restaurant, you’ll see Federico painstakingly handmaking pasta on a table. It’s that same pasta we eat in our meal:
Gnocchi made to a secret recipe with a sauce of truffled porcini mushrooms and parmigiano, flamed in a baby wheel of pecorino;
Giant gnocchi (Gnocconi ripieni) filled with fresh goats’ cheese and chive served with slow-cooked house-made chunky veal ragu;
Passatelli alle melanzane (a traditional quick but very tasty pasta made using a potato ricer, for children to eat on Sundays) served with eggplant, anchovies, olives and capers in a napolitana sauce;
Mozzarella tortellaci with pistachio and cherry tomato sauce with thyme and shallots;
Our main of Calamari ripieni – whole squid stuffed with Italian chorizo, mussels and olives – and dessert of Cannoli with fresh ricotta custard and White chocolate Crème brûlée for a perfect finish!
We’ll be back to try more of the main course dishes as well as the pizza, which is available gluten-free with vegan cheese.
With Italian prosecco and Veneto merlo on tap, Peroni or Menabrea beer and $15 Aperol spritz, there’s plenty of fuel to keep a party going. Of course, you can take away, but for us there’s too much going on in the restaurant to leave. We’re as wrapped up in the action as we would be in Nonna’s kitchen!
Specials: Tues pasta night $20, Wed pizza night $20, Tapas + beer/wine/cocktails from $13.95
1a/1638 Gold Coast Hwy, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5576 3764
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Belvedere Stonemill.