Wow, oh my god and yum (well, more yuuuummmmm) pretty much sums up my experience at Popolo. I enjoyed my meal at the new Southbank restaurant so much I even liked them on Facebook, which is wildly out of character for me.
Situated right on the edge of the river in Southbank's new River Quay precinct (near the Goodwill Bridge), Popolo's open dining area affords pretty spectacular views of the city from every table. Though the restaurant looks very sophisticated, with polished concrete walls and floor to ceiling wine racks giving it a sort of industrial feel, it was the great food, service and unexpectedly low bill which drove me to give it the Facebook tick of approval.
After my partner and I were seated, our waiter explained that all of Popolo's dishes, both starters and mains, are designed to be shared before he left us to consider the menu. Being an Italian kitchen, there was of course several pizzas to choose from but surprisingly no pasta apart from an exotic sounding gnocchi. There was still plenty to choose from, with chicken, seafood, lamb and pork all making an appearance on the list of mains. Our waiter soon returned for our orders, resisting the urge to laugh at my massacre of the Italian names of the dishes we order and commending our choices.
We started off with fresh ciabatta (an Italian bread) with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar mix for dipping and polpette-pork and veal meatballs in rich tomato sauce. These starters were definitely designed for sharing and after two giant, mouth-watering meatballs each, my partner and I questioned whether we needed the main at all. We found our appetites once the main came out though - suckling pig with crispy crackling and spiced peach compote accompanied by crunchy roasted potatoes. Yes, it was as good as it sounds. No, there is no photo because I was too busy stuffing my mouth to remember to take one.
The service was prompt and friendly, with the waiter stopping at our table every so often to make sure we were enjoying ourselves. The bonus to the evening was the bill, which came to only $52 for the two starters, a shared main and a side dish. I will definitely be returning with a group of friends to sample more from this Italian kitchen.