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New Italian restaurant offering $250 suckling pig as the signature dish

Originally published by Courier Mail and written by Alison Walsh

You can spend more than 24 hours in the air to get to Sardinia, or you can pop over to West End.

Sure, enjoying the beaches lapped by sapphire waters, the forests and granite peaks of its wild interior and pecorino cheese and suckling pig-led cuisine of the large Italian island floating in the Mediterranean would be well worth the jet lag, but for a taste of what it has to offer, the inner-south Brisbane suburb is likely to be more accessible.

Pilloni, which opened a couple of weeks ago on the corner of Hardgrave Rd and Loch St, adjacent to long-time resident Lefkas Taverna, is housed in a newly renovated and expanded, strikingly attractive space with a beautiful interior design.

Pilloni restaurant in Hardgrave Rd, West End. Picture: David Kelly

The bar inside the front door is separated from the restaurant, which is in two sections, a bamboo ceilinged, wooden-floored, banquette-lined room facing the open kitchen with its glowing coals beneath the grill that telegraphs the menu focus.

Adjacent is a long room, with peachy-toned tiles, comfortable wicker-backed upholstered chairs, floor-to-ceiling glass and wafting curtains as well as a jigsaw of eclectic paintings populating the walls.

Linen napkins and attractive crockery complete the picture, while white staff uniforms are in tune with the aesthetic.

Pilloni restaurant. Picture: David Kelly

It’s the second restaurant for Valentina Vigni and Andrea Contin, who also have pizza-led La Lupa on Montague Rd in the same suburb. Contin grew up in Sardinia and brings a strong regional focus to Pilloni to differentiate it from their other venture.

Snacks include oysters with parsley oil, fermented carrot gel and bottarga dressing, cured anchovies with parsley pesto and burnt hay butter as well as a selection of cured fish. Entrees run to charred octopus with potato foam; scallop crudo with fresh figs; and frattau, a concoction of the crisp, paper-thin Sardinian flatbread carasau with a tomato sauce, egg yolk and pecorino Sardo ($24) – it’s a light, texturally appealing beginning.

Culurgiones at Pilloni restaurant. Picture: David Kelly

Traditional leaf-shaped culurgiones are plump parcels filled with potato, pecorino and mint and enhanced with tomato sauce ($33) while the local pasta, malloreddus, with its thin, ribbed shells, is deliciously mixed through with lamb shoulder ragu and pecorino Sardo ($33).

Suckling pig is the restaurant’s signature, a quarter available spit-roasted for a minimum of four people with 24 hours’ notice for $250, while we opt to share a main course version of the Schultz Farm pig ($44), which has a delicate crispy crust on a layer of fat and then the ultra-moist meat that’s a product of the restaurant’s seven-day preparation, which includes rubbing with salt, sugar, spices and blanching and cooking over coals.

The other main course option is charred kingfish and there are shared plates of Tasmanian lobster, whole fish or slow-roasted lamb neck. Service is attentive throughout the meal, with staff materialising just as you think you might want something.

The wine list is a hefty, leather-bound tome unveiling a more than 200-bottle selection including the Sardinian varietals of vermintino and carignano (both available on the by-the-glass list), as well as other selections from around the Mediterranean and some local drops. Beers include Ichnusa from Sardinia and cocktails hero some of the island’s spirits.

Seadas at Pilloni. Picture: David Kelly

Desserts are refreshingly different, with olive oil cake topped with milk ice cream, a delicious caramel flan with marsala cream and figs ($16) and on a more savoury bent, a Sardinian seadas, an appealing ravioli-like pastry filled with pecorino and drizzled with honey ($16).

Pilloni is a venue that combines elegance and homeliness in a welcoming atmosphere and the food, a long way from the lasagne and tiramisu you might find in many generic Italian restaurants, is a pleasure to explore.


166 Hardgrave Rd, West End


Wed-Fri 5-10pm

Sat-Sun 12-2.30pm,


Food 4 stars

Service 4 stars

Ambience 5 stars

Value 3 stars


4/5 stars