Restaurant review: Rigoni’s Bistro

Dec 12, 2014
Rigoni's Bistro was placed under external administration in April. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Rigoni's Bistro was placed under external administration in April. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

The term “Adelaide institution” is often overused and far too easily bestowed, however, Rigoni’s Bistro is one city restaurant which is worthy of the title.

Operating since 1979, Rigoni’s is a slick, comfortable and consistently excellent lunch and dinner spot situated along one of Adelaide’s best laneways in Leigh St.

Rigoni’s has built a solid reputation for traditional, hearty Italian food and professional service over its many decades and has become a popular spot for politicians, lawyers and business elite.

Housed in an old red-brick building, Rigoni’s presentation is second to none. A large island-bar sits in the middle, surrounded by bar stools for guests to enjoy a quick coffee or beer.

Red-tiled floors contrast with the dark wooden furniture, while crisp table cloths and polished glasses sit on the sharply set tables.


Rigon’s enjoys a Pranzo-like street presence (another business lunch hot-spot), with passers-by peering into to see who is dining. Prime position is a table in one of the street-side bay windows which overlook a row of outside tables.

Having been greeted at the door by a friendly waiter, we are taken to a small table on the side. The restaurant is nearly full; the atmosphere is bustling and busy.

Water is poured, wine list and menu are delivered upon seating.

Rigoni’s menu is long and varied. The traditional pasta favourites are there, but there is also more adventurous choices available. For instance, the pork saltimbocca is served with polenta and a salad of scallop, lettuce and snow peas. There is also a gnocchi with pork shoulder served with apple, walnuts sage and horseradish cream.

Prices begin at just over $10 for bruschetta, about $27 for the traditional pastas and $45 for the 600g T-bone steak.

The wine list is decent and reasonably priced. A large list of Australian offerings are supplemented with Italian wines. There is some good local wine on offer such as the Ministry of Clouds Chardonnay, which we order.

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To start, we choose the Coffin Bay oysters and the traditional bruschetta of tomato, basil and olive oil. The oysters are fresh and obviously recently shucked while the bruschetta of crusty bread and juicy tomato is a tasty and well-seasoned rendition of the classic.

Service to this point has been excellent, the staff are well versed in the cuisine and helpful. They are attentive but not overbearing – glasses are always full and descriptions of specials are delivered by rote.

For mains we decide on the spaghetti amatriciana and a special of linguine, with mussels, calamari, chilli and tomato. The dishes arrive beautifully presented and steaming hot. Sauce clings to the strands of perfectly cooked pasta and vivid flecks of green herbs.

The ammatriciana is a smallish serve. It has a heavy tomato sauce and slight hint of chilli with the salty pancetta and a decent dose of olive oil – it is simple and delicious.

The linguine is more rustic in appearance with large black mussels poking through the pasta. It is salty verging on being over-seasoned, however the generosity of the serve and a decent kick of chilli make this a pleasure.

Rigonis 1200x600

The hallmark of Rigoni’s and the key to its success is much like Adelaide’s other long-lived and successful restaurants (Chianti, La Trattoria, Amalfi, Gauchos). Customers have become able to rely on high-quality service and consistently good food in a relaxed and upmarket atmosphere.

Rigoni’s makes dining as easy as possible which in turn means a relaxing day, afternoon or night, and that is why it has been one of Adelaide’s most popular restaurants for 35 years.

Four out of five


Rigoni’s Bistro
27 Leigh St, Adelaide, 8231 5160

Open: Monday to Friday for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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