Taste the coasts of southern Italy from Robertson Quay

Completing the trio of dining concepts from Publico at The Quayside is Publico Ristorante, a first-class Italian establishment that marries fine dining and a casual, contemporary setting.

The first thing you’ll notice when you step inside is that the setup looks straight out of a Martha Stewart cooking show—what with the “open kitchen” housing twin pizza ovens—but with dimmed lighting, and elegant touches of modern Italian architecture. Steel masonry and potted greens give the place a modern but homey feel, before inviting you to be their guest at the long tables.

Publico Ristorante

The menu is undertaken by the shy but sincere Executive Chef Marco Turatti, who brings with him his expertise from kitchens across Italy. If there’s one antipasto to try, it’s the Arancini alla Bolognese ($14), or fried risotto balls packed tightly with slow-cooked beef. It’s a unique dish utilizing familiar flavors; but the buffalo mozzarella salad ($22) and calamari fritters ($13) are good starter options too.

Like what you’d expect from an Italian establishment, pizzas and pastas are the reigning mains at Publico. And the Martha Stewart ovens aren’t just for show; live in front of diners they’re responsible for the tasty wood-fired pizzas served at the restaurant—an instant favorite for anyone who likes their Italian flatbreads. The Baci e Ricotto ($26)—homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, smoked scamorza, pork belly and crumbled ricotta—may be Chef Turatti’s signature, but the pizza to order is definitely the Tartufata ($24), an expertly done pie of porcini mushrooms and smoked scamorza drenched in truffle. You’ll be thinking of the dough for days after.

It might seem like an odd thing to try during Italian fine dining, but don’t miss the “La fiorentina” T-bone steak. House-aged and cut generously in thick juicy slabs, it serves a good two to four; more actually, if you’re all small eaters. The hefty steak is salted with a heavy hand, but the juices of the meat keep it from being overwhelming.

To pair with your meal, there’s an extensive list of wines, cocktails, beers and even tea. A gelato cart serving locally sourced scoops is typically on standby throughout the night, but if you fancy an even sweeter affair, pop next door to sister bistro Publico Deli—which after dark transforms into a dessert parlor dishing Italian sweets. The in-house neighbourhood bar Marcello serves Italian craft cocktails perfect to end the night with.

If you’re ever intimidated by Publico Ristorante’s stunning exterior to enter, don’t be. Floor-to-ceiling windows and doors open up to a breezy al fresco concept that’s instantly more casual, and with luck remind you of the leafy piazzas dotted along southern Italy’s coastline. Needless to say, between the food, the vibe, and the limoncello shots, Publico’s final establishment is a very welcome addition to The Quayside.

Publico Ristorante is located at 1 Nanson Road and is open for dinner daily from 6-11pm. More info here