Writing about food is like a box of chocolates. You can reach into the box, but you’re never quite sure what flavour you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s not the one you feel like; it may even be downright disappointing. Sometimes it comes in the wrong wrapper.
But for every meal that disappoints us, for every time we recognise chef shortcuts and laziness, there are times when our passion for dining on the Gold Coast presents joy, respect and complete surprise at the meal we’ve eaten and the people we meet.
It’s that respect that we feel when we dine at Mozzafiato at Elite Gold Coast.
Positioned on the edge of the Gold Coast’s sporting precinct at Carrara, Elite Gold Coast, part of the KDV Sport complex, is a hotel doubling as a small event and corporate meeting centre. Its restaurant, Mozzafiato, is situated at the front of the hotel on the ground floor.
Open for three meals daily to accommodate hotel guests, Mozzafiato is also open to locals, one of few restaurants in the immediate area. The Italian theming of the menu has general appeal.
Lunch is laid back, offering a selection of dishes including arancini, several salads, burgers, steak sandwich, spaghetti marinara, confit chicken and steak and chips, with a weekly $10 lunch special to tempt local patronage. A daily ‘2-for-1’ pizza special runs nightly from 5 – 7pm, as well as a Happy Hour.
We’re there to dine at dinner, the hotel lit to create an ambient mood. Frankly, we don’t have great expectations, which makes our surprise all the sweeter. Warmly greeted by restaurant manager Daniel Batizi, we sit alfresco overlooking the infinity pool, choosing a drink from the international wine and beverage list.
‘Mozzafiato’ means ‘breathtaking’, the word derived from ‘mozzare’, meaning to cut or chop off and ‘fiato’, meaning breath. It’s generally used to talk about a particularly beautiful work of art or a scenic view, but in this case, it refers to the dining experience at Mozzafiato, particularly to the food we eat from Chef Marco Gozalves’ kitchen.
Chef Marco grew up in Peru, a country well placed on the world’s culinary map, with several Peruvian restaurants ranking in the world’s Top 10 restaurants. He trained at the only Le Cordon Bleu in South America, gaining further experience under one of the world’s top chefs. Hungry for more culinary experience, he worked as a chef in major hotel chains in South America and the US before coming to the Gold Coast sponsored by the Sheraton.
There’s a range of Italian food on Mozzafiato’s menu, from antipasti to pizza, pasta and risotto, mains and sweets, a kids’ menu separate.
Leaving the food to the chef, our first two dishes are so delicious that we could have stopped there: Frutti Di Mare – a selection of fresh baby barramundi, calamari and prawns dusted in flour and flash fried, as well as Beef Carpaccio with horseradish whipped cream, balsamic spheres, caramelised carrots and grana padano.
At first glance, both dishes seem simple enough, yet the chef’s attention to detail includes little additions or combinations piquing our interest, such as the ‘filled potato salad’ presented with the seafood – little rounds of mash filled with lemon, yellow chilli and avocado topped with a dressed prawn and crisp basil leaf hat, or the caramelised carrots, balsamic spheres and fried capers that add that extra touch of interest to the carpaccio.
Mains also don’t disappoint. Lamb rump arrives on a bed of rich burnt pumpkin purée finished with jus, confit rockmelon and a side of sundried tomato-topped Israeli couscous, while the Beef sirloin is accompanied by a trio of shallots, whipped potatoes, green pea puree and preserved lemon dressing. For a beef dish, it’s a garden of flavours, as pretty as a picture.
“I think you should try the tiramisu, don’t you?” Chef Marco says, quickly answering my raised eyebrows with the assurance that the dish is his own version rather than traditional.
“I don’t really like those sponge fingers that are usually used in tiramisu,” he tells us, “so I’ve made my own yoghurt cake, added cocoa powder, coffee gelatine and mascarpone cream, a tempered dark chocolate disk on top and my own sauce to serve it at the table.”
The dessert is sensational, trending in its rich, not too sweet dark chocolate goodness, a crumble of cake around its base belying the effort put into its creation.
We sit back in amazement, not because of the skill, as great as it is, but at the juxtaposition of this food, discovered in such an unexpected place. With grace and elegance, this is food for the discerning diner, a treat to be savoured and enjoyed.
28 Chisholm Rd., Carrara Ph: 07 5618 8800
NOTE: Follow @elitegoldcoast on Facebook or Instagram to learn about their specials, such as children’s pizza classes at $20/head.
Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Elite Gold Coast.