Based on the main strip in downtown Mackay is Sorbello's Italian Restaurant - a place that the locals will tell you is one of the oldest and best places to eat in town. Unfortunately, I didn't know this when I picked a location for lunch and had a very disappointing meal a few hundred metres up the road. After such a letdown, I went back to my hotel for wifi (little to no roaming on Three in downtown Mackay) and logged into UrbanSpoon. Thankfully, there was Sorbello's with a massive 100% like rating. Allbeit there weren't hundreds of votes, ok there wasn't even ten, but considering all the other local restaurants were under 50%, I figured it was a good bet.
On my way there for dinner, I mentioned to the hotel staff I was going to Sorbello's - needless to say that is when I was informed that it was THE place to eat in town. I had decided to arrive just as the dinner guests would be finishing up, to get one of the last meals before the kitchen closed around 8pm. I had assumed (incorrectly) that Mackay on a Saturday night would be like a small regional town - Mackay smells like steak on Saturday night by the way.
I turned up at 7.45pm and it was packed.
Let me rephrase that - it was overflowing. There were people waiting at the bar for tables to open up, and every inch of table was being utilised. I spoke to Con (one of the Sorbello brothers who own the place), and he agreed to squeeze me in on a table in the bar around 8.30pm.
After a stroll by the river, I returned to find a table for me in the bar. I picked one of my staple wines - Vasse Felix CDW and perused the menu. OMG it is huge! I panicked when I saw how big it was - because generally, the bigger the menu (content not actual physical size) the worse the food. I slowly worked my way through the 100 or more choices, and finally settled on Natural Oysters followed by the Garlic Prawns Fettucini.
Delicious doesn't cover the Fettucini. The prawns were cooked to perfection, the pasta not gluggy at all. Just spectacular. The oysters were fresh and huge - really huge, but not chewy. I finished up my bottle of wine, and grabbed one of their home made gelato for the stroll back to my hotel. The food itself would be a reason to return, but the service was outstanding - so much so I tipped 20%. When I left at 10.45pm the place was just under 50% full but there were more tables arriving - for deserts and coffees. Sorbello's is open until midnight. Be aware though, it is closed on Public Holidays.
Very fresh ingredients.
Excellent wine list.
Impossible NOT to find something you want to order.
Huge serves - the entree sized pasta is plenty big for a main.
Great atmosphere - everyone was having a brilliant time (including the staff).
The chocolate gelato was OK, not chocolatey enough for me.
The fettucini was quite broken, so it wasn't really long enough to twirl (do people in North Queensland eat it with a knife and fork?).
Sorbello's Italian Restaurant reminds me of those great Italian restaurants we went to as kids. Real restaurants, not a chain, or trying to be upmarket wanky. A real restaurant that takes pride in fresh ingredients, real flavour and good service. I am back in Mackay in October and cannot wait to return - though this time I am booking!