Right now, the first official diners at the Brisbane branch of Jamie's Italian are walking through the doors, settling in for some fresh antipasto, a serving of squid ink pasta, or a pavlova flecked with peppered berries if they're feeling particularly decadent.
Oliver's entourage have been playing it aloof for the better part of a year, but the word is finally out: Jamie's Italian is open for business in Brisbane.
The 240-seat venue is the largest of all Jamie's Italian eateries in Australia, edging out its predecessors in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth. That's right – Brisbane even beat Melbourne to the punch.
The two-storey restaurant is tucked into the Heritage-listed Rowes Arcade on Edward Street across from the Queen Street Mall. It's been given a serious Jamie-approved refurb, decked out with caramel leather booth seating, copper light fixtures, a massively gaudy chandelier, and upstairs antipasto bar curtained with cured meats and garlands of dried chillies.
A staff of 90 have memorised the intricacies of the dishes, with a team of around 40 manning the kitchen. "The veal flash steak is cooked between bricks to seal in the flavour," our waitress explains. "We've just had a week of intensive training so we know a lot about the food!"
What sets Jamie's Italian apart is its price point. While you may expect to pay the equivalent of a week's rent for the privilege of dining at some celebrity chef restaurants, signature meals at Jamie's will set you back no more than $50 for mains, $20 for entrees and $9 for sides. You can even knock back a cocktail for under $10.
The stars of the starters include two variations of bruschetta – heritage tomato with silky ricotta or grilled asparagus with lemony mozzarella – crunchy three-cheese gnocchi waiting to be plucked from a long wooden paddle, and slivers of beef carpaccio with aged balsamic, artichokes and toasted almonds.
Generous servings mean you won't find a lot of white space left on the plate or wooden board. Around 500 kilograms of pasta is made fresh on site weekly with the help of Ferrari-red pasta extruders on the top floor, creating the base for dishes such as the buttery truffle tagliatelle and the crowd favourite prawn linguine.
The beers on tap are sourced from local tipplers Burleigh Brewing, Green Beacon and Suncoast Brewery, while the wine list spans vineyards from the Barossa to Tuscany.
With 30 restaurants worldwide, countless cooking shows, hardcover cookbooks, kitchenware and must-have pantry items to his name, Jamie Oliver is these days more of a global empire than the moppy-headed 'naked chef' we met in the late 90s.
Following a weekend of satisfying hungry international delegates for the G20 summit, the addition of Jamie's Italian to the Brisbane food scene further highlights the city as a serious dining destination, joining the likes of Matt Moran and Luke Nguyen who have already set up shop in the Sunshine State capital.
Jamie's Italian is open for lunch and dinner daily from 11:30 to 22:30. Reservations can be made online.