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Where you’ll find the best pasta in town

As Brisbane matures and continues to welcome in thousands of southerners and expats seemingly every minute, so too does its offering of world-class restaurants, bars, cafes and boutiques. 

This week I took a coffee break to chat with Mark Rotolone, the owner of Fortitude Valley bistro Mosconi

What inspired you to name your bistro Mosconi?

We were looking for a name for the restaurant when we opened five years ago and six months prior I was doing a wine tasting with a lady from Italy. She was a really lovely lady who had taken over the winemaking from the generation before, which was all male. Mosconi is a small parcel or area of land, like McLaren Vale but tiny. It was all about what you put in is what you get out, back-to-basics organic and holistic farming. The name of that vineyard was Mosconi. 

Can you expand a little on your heritage?

My dad was born in Italy and my mum was born here but of Italian heritage. My mother’s father owned a smallgoods company. He had his finger in everything and back in the beginning they had farms up in Innisfail and would run smallgoods down to Stanthorpe. They moved to Wilston in Brisbane and had a corner store, to be probably one of the first selling the Italian smallgoods. He had a cafe also in Merthyr Road, New Farm next to where I had Vine Restaurant for 15 years. He was there in the ‘70s, I was there from 2005. As I was finishing school, wondering what to do, I’d spent a lot of time with him and he had this real love and passion for food which I think rubbed off on me. 

Did you imagine you’d be the owner of a beautiful restaurant as a young kid leaving school? 

I finished school and was a little lost. My father was very well-educated as a bridge engineer, a prominent figure in the construction of the Gateway Bridge and quite renowned. I did go to uni to study commerce, banking and finance, and hated it. I then went to a law firm, but hated that as well. I was working at restaurants in the evening and it was something I quite enjoyed so I thought, if I’m going to do this then I may as well have my own.

Why New Farm/Teneriffe?

I remember going for a drive one day, I was probably 21 or 22, we didn’t really venture into New Farm 25 years ago but I remember going past The Little Larder and it stood out to me. I ended up managing it and really liking it, and then Vine became available but it needed a lot of work. I ended up doing that for 15 years. 

How has the precinct changed over those years?

There have been massive changes. It’s become a real hub and it is very unique in its growth. The one thing for me that’s appealing is the organic growth. Other areas have tried similar developments but without the organic growth it doesn’t really work. 

A Mosconi dish you’d recommend…

On the current menu, the gnocchi with Moreton Bay bugs is just unbelievably beautiful. All the pastas are homemade by my mother-in-law so they’re a real standout, and the coteletta is always beautiful. 

I love that your mother-in-law makes the pasta.

We were in business together at Vine and she wanted to work a few days a week after that, so she comes in to make the pastas in the morning and she loves it. Everything is definitely made with love. Mosconi is a place of passion. It’s my dream restaurant and I’m very fortunate to come here daily and be a part of it. I hope that transfers to the customers who are welcomed like family. 

I hope you enjoy the read.

Matt Lancashire