Pasta lovers across Brisbane were dealt a heavy blow earlier this year when the coronavirus lockdown claimed CJ’s Pasta in West End. As Brisbane’s hospitality scene went into hibernation, much of CJ’s Pasta’s wholesale clientele reduced their need for stock, leaving the business (which was predominantly based around its production kitchen) without a sizeable chunk of income. In addition to this, the venue’s dining licence was revoked only weeks before the pandemic arrived, meaning that the venue’s dine-in arm Secret Pasta Club – a beloved intimate outlet for pasta-loving locals – had already been put on the back burner. Fortunately, this dark cloud boasts a silver lining. Not long after CJ’s Pasta went into liquidation, a buyer emerged to take over the manufacturing side of the business, leaving Leila Amirparviz and Darcy Adam – the originators of CJ’s Secret Pasta Club – free to establish their culinary passion project elsewhere. The ideal location presented itself over on the other side of West End on Boundary Street near Alphabet Cafe and You Came Again. A vacant corner tenancy (formerly home to Flora by Greenhouse Canteen) complete with a kitchen and room for dining looked perfect for their purposes. Once the space was secured, Leila and Darcy got stuck into some cosmetic updates including a fresh lick of paint, a new tiled mosaic for the service counter, freshly sanded and stained tables and a disco ball for the private dining space at the rear. The record player was brought over from the previous location and soon after the crew was ready to drop the needle on the newly minted Pasta Club.
Although a spiritual continuation of Secret Pasta Club’s home-style ethos, this new iteration offers Leila and Darcy more creative freedom when it comes to menu conception. The previous model’s daily offering was conjured based on what CJ’s Pasta was producing (a waste-minimisation measure), whereas here the kitchen has free rein to chop and change the menu based on what seasonal ingredients can be obtained locally. Aside from the parmigiano reggiano and the biscuits in the tiramisu, all ingredients are sourced from within Australia. The debut menu is designed to be easy to navigate, with a handful of entrees, salads, pasta dishes and desserts available forming the bulk of what will be on offer at any given time. Groups can dip their spoons into fresh burrata doused in salsa verde, share a trio of truffled-mushroom arancini and divvy up a salad of radicchio, goats cheese, caramelised onion and balsamic, before settling in to their own portion pasta. The likes of spaghetti carbonara with parmesan and smoked salt, braised beef-cheek ragu and pumpkin agnolotti with pine nuts and burnt butter are stand outs (vegan and gluten-free options are available, too), while Italian almond cookies, tiramisu and pear-and-hazelnut torta caprese are perfect sweet finishers. While the offering won’t remain static, it won’t change at a daily clip like before in order to maintain sustainable practices. That being said, the Pasta Club team is committed to having something new for you to try each time you dine. Pasta Club is BYO-friendly, though the crew is keen to secure a liquor licence in the future, likely offering a small selection of wines and classic cocktails. Also of note, Pasta Club is only accepting same-day bookings – so be sure to get in quick if you want to reserve a spot for dinner.
Pasta Club is now open – for more details and opening hours, check out the Stumble Guide.