Stepping through the big open doors into Bottarga feels a little like coming home. Cosy and comforting, featuring warm hues and timbers, the smell of delicious food wafts from the open kitchen as you take your seat.
This is what Bottarga is all about.
French-born Frank Boulay and Austrian-born Karin Doeldl opened their first restaurant, Periwinkle, in Peregian Square back in January 2017. Now, they have brought an entirely new concept and restaurant to life in Maroochydore. And it is hard not to fall in love with Bottarga.
“From the minute you arrive, you are at home,” Frank says.
Frank and Karin met in Puerto Rico and spent about 20 years travelling the world together and solo. The pair worked in some of the world’s most notable restaurants as waiters or chefs and eventually decided to create something of their own. This is when restaurant number one, Periwinkle, was born.
“Periwinkle was our baby and has been such a success,” Frank says. “We decided we wanted to open a second place, found this space in Maroochydore and decided to go for it.
“It has been challenging because we also have three children, and obviously, we can’t be in two places at once, but we have a great crew, and they follow us wherever we go. The team, both kitchen management and restaurant management, are fantastic at both sites, and we simply fill the gaps when we need to.
“It took us about a year to design this space, working with our lifestyle designer, and then another six months to build it, so it was a long process, but we love the result.
“We really want people to feel as though they are having dinner in their own home, so the design process was very much inspired by this idea.”
Bottarga boasts a relaxed ambience. It is open, airy and comfortable. Textured walls mix with eclectic seating, timber tables and warm tones, to create the vibe that is Bottarga.
“We handpicked every colour for the fabrics, the furniture, and they are all inspired by the bottarga, which is the roe sac of a fish,” Frank says. “It is a very salty ingredient and full of flavour, natural colours and something that tastes fantastic dried and shaved on top of pasta, so we kept with that theme throughout the name, the design and the food,” Frank tells salt.
“The design began with the stone materials on the bar, which illuminates from the back through the marble at night and we kept adding from there.
“We used some Italian rendering on the walls and kept the kitchen open with ceramic tiling, so our chefs feel that they are cooking in the home too. It’s a big open kitchen and we want that ambience to flow right through.
“It looks fancy, but it’s also very homely, and we want people to feel that. So far, the feedback has been amazing and we already have a lot of repeat customers, which we love.”
As for the food, you could say they serve up dishes that dance across your tastebuds and fill your belly as you sit, sip and eat among friends. But if we are to get technical, the menu is inspired by southern Mediterranean cuisine.
“Of course, because I am the chef and I am French, I cook with a lot of French techniques, but the food itself is Italian inspired with a touch of Mediterranean,” Frank says.
“It isn’t traditional Italian though, so you won’t find traditional dishes on the menu, except for our fresh pasta and hand-stretched Neapolitan pizza, which are both crafted by hand on site by our chefs. The pizza dough also uses a 48-hour fermentation process to really bring out the flavours and give the pizzas that beautiful puff.
“I personally love working with pasta, and the signature spanner crab spaghettini with white miso butter and bottarga is a crowd favourite to eat too. We essentially use ingredients from other cuisines to add to the Italian flavours.”
Pair with one of the Italian, French or Australian wines, which have been thoughtfully curated to complement the menus, and you have yourself quite the meal.
In fact, there is a French proverb that goes something like this; ‘de la bonne bouffe et de bons amis’, which translates roughly to ‘good food and good friends’; people dining in comfort with their family and friends, great food and wine bringing it all together. The art of eating well, and the notion of togetherness through food.
I would say this sums up the experience at Bottarga pretty well.
We dined on a selection of dishes over lunch including the beef carpaccio with marinated wagyu beef, hazelnut and porcini cream, artichoke chips, pickle mushrooms. We couldn’t go past the popular spanner crab spaghettini; Fraser Isle spanner crab, house-made spaghettini, white miso butter, yuzu, chive and bottarga. The slow-braised Bass Straight beef short ribs and porcini cappellacci, shaved duck foie gras and white truffle crema were bursting with flavour. And finally, the diavola pizza with San Marzano tomato, fior di latte, spicy salami, n’duja, kalamata olives, basil and olive oil.