Augello's Pizza – a league all their own

The first Augello's store began operations in 1995. Due to its growing popularity, not only with the locals, but also with the tourists, the second restaurant at New Farm was opened in 2001 and plans are in place for their third restaurant. Augello's is owned and managed by Simon Best, Paul Tuminello and Alun Lawrence. These three partners are knowledgeable, devoted, passionate and live and breathe their food, work and industry.

Both restaurants can be best described as busy Modern Italian restaurants specializing in gourmet pizza and pasta. While both stores offer alfresco dining, Mooloolaba's breath taking, oceanic views of the Sunshine Coast are truly indescribable and make for a more relaxed, laid back dining experience, where time has no meaning.

Simon Best quotes that the success of Augello's is based on, "A number of important ingredients: our menu, which offers a wide variety of choices for the most discerning tastes: consistency. Whether it be New Years Eve or a winter lunchtime, our pizzas and pastas will be the same high standard, and of course the use of fresh ingredients with a particular attention to the variety and amount of cheese being used."

Augello's dedication to their work, food and restaurants has rewarded them by being finalists, three years running, in Australia's ultimate and prestigious pizza competition, DAIRY FARMERS "THE BEST OF THE BEST" Pizza Challenge, held annually. Simon Best states that, "Dairy Farmers Best of the Best Pizza Challenge has greatly improved both new and return customer patronage. Subsequently, this assisted with the opening of our new restaurant in Brisbane" (New Farm).

It is a typical Queensland night and the famous Restaurant hub of Brisbane, Brunswick Street, is alive as "menuees" search for their elusive secret dining table for a night of great food, wine and companionship.

As I approach the door of Augello's, the aromas from the open accordion windows and doorways begin to tantalize and tease my taste buds. Entering Augello's, I am welcomed by a restaurant full of happy, contented menuees, staff scuffling by with arms and hands full of aromatic, artful and rustic meals. Augello's decor can best be described as Tuscany, splashed with wild blues, yellows and reds.

Alun Lawrence greets me and after a quick chat he directs me to my table, for a night of pure indulgence. As I sit in anticipation, I see the restaurant is alive and electrified with laughter, chit-chat, people drinking and eating, customers waiting patiently for tables to become available, waiters rushing food to tables, chefs flaming pans, then I notice Alun with the grin on his face of a man proud not only of his work, his restaurant, his customers but also of his well-informed, well-trained and customer-friendly staff.

The menu at Augello's can be best described as Peasant Italian style with a twist of Augello's own modernism added. The emphasis is placed on simple flavours but with high quality and fresh ingredients and plated presentation.

From breads to bruschetta, from antipasto to pasta, calzone to their award-winning pizzas, there is something to suit not only your hunger, but also your budget.

In keeping with the theme of the night, I decided to wet my taste buds with a fully imported "Villa di Vetrice Chianti Rufina 99" from the well represented and not overly priced wine list. With wines available by the glass from $5.00, including Augello's own Label Shiraz/Cabernet and Chardonnay, one could easily match a great wine with their choice of meal.

My degustation on the night started with a crispy style bread topped with diced roma tomatoes, basil and a balsamic vinegar salsa, truly tasty and appetizing. The tomatoes were full of flavour, uniformly sliced, deseeded, and well-seasoned, the bread was, as it read, "crispy" and well toasted.

Next to arrive at the table was PIZZA VERDURA, a combination of fire roasted capsicums, pumpkin, baby spinach, pine nuts and goat's cheese all topped with seasoned sweet potato crisps. The aromas emitted from the pizza were sensational and the taste was even more delightful. The pizza was presented on a round wooden serving plate, especially designed by the Augello's boys and a local cabinetmaker. These boards are hand made out of Corian wood and Simon advises me that they are "anti-bacterial, dishwasher safe and virtually indestructible." The grooves on the boards allow the pizza base to breathe and prevent the pizza base from going soggy. Again one can see the depth of thought that Paul, Simon and Alun go to, to consider the final presentation of the pizza so that it maintains its maximum quality right to the last bite.

One element that qualifies in all the dishes at Augello's is the colourful and artistic presentation of the meals. My dish of chili and saffron marinated sea scallops with virgin olive oil and authentic and imported Italian squid ink spaghetti was superb. The pasta was cooked to perfection by Head Chef Mark Powys, who is a true professional and extremely dedicated and devoted chef and is a definite asset for Augello's.

Augello's kitchen team, under the guidance of Mark, is just as committed and dedicated as Mark, Simon, Paul and Alun. The team is not happy unless everything is 100 percent. Such is the dedication that after producing numerous Tiramisu Cakes the chef quotes, "even after making so many Tiramisus, and they have all tasted great they are still not perfect, but I will keep on making them until I can call one my perfect Tiramisu."

Perfection is what Augello's is all about, nothing is and ever will be "Just OK," it's either the right way or the highway. Every dish is like a work of art, detailed to the last minute item. Having been involved in this industry, myself, for over 20 years, this is one kitchen and one brigade that I would be happy to call my own.

Pizzas range in price from $11.00 to $24.00 and while some might see these prices as a little on the expensive side, I suggest, let your eyes and taste buds be your judge. The ingredients feature fresh seafood, proscuitto, avocado, prawns, roasted peppers, marinated eggplant, semi dried tomatoes, bocconcini, charred artichokes, kalamata olives, goat's cheese, Moroccan chicken, and the list just goes on and on. Make no mistake, all their ingredients are of only the first class.

I questioned Alun as to "Why is Augello's so popular?" He replied, "You must never stop trying to improve your business. We are always striving to achieve perfection in all aspects of our restaurant. Here at Augello's we set the standard for our competitors, but at the same time I dine out frequently to see if we are setting the goals, or if there is anything we can do at Augello's better."

Augello's is all about quality and perfection. The staff and owners absolutely love how they are driving and succeeding in their achievements. You the customer are their goal and future, without you there would be no Augello's. All the food I saw and tasted on the night can truly be called first class.