Lunch review: Osteria Oggi

Sep 18, 2015
Tiramisu affogato. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Tiramisu affogato. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

There has been talk around the table for some time now about how, for a city that has long been defined by its Italianicity, Adelaide seems a little light-on for modern Italian food and wine.

Forget the white tablecloths, we’re talking the kind of Italian food and wine experience that delivers exceptional quality and contemporary style at street level.

In the corporate heart of the CBD, where places to lunch have been lacking since Chesser Cellar closed a couple of years ago, Osteria Oggi’s doors open fully to the busyness of Pirie Street.

The suits and office workers file past – as well as the occasional parking inspector – while indoors, seated at the glorious polished-concrete bar, is a baseball-capped youth having a glass of wine with his Tiramisu Affogato. And the tiny “shelf” tables to the side are dotted with single diners intent on their order.


Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Up the back – beyond the freshly plastered vaulted ceiling suggesting the light and space of a Roman basilica, and the bar stools covered in fine caramel leather – Osteria Oggi opens into a much wider restaurant space, with tables and chairs beneath an indoor loggia and banquettes to the side.

The menu is definitely Italian, but there’s not a rolling R to be heard. In fact, for such a cavernous space (it used to be the old Health Partners office), the acoustics are brilliant. You can actually hear what your friends are saying and enjoy the soundtrack at the same time.


Osteria Oggi interior. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

As the restaurant scene in Adelaide has become more corporate, it is no surprise to learn that Osteria Oggi is a collaboration between the Ginos Group, which owns the real estate, and restaurateur Simon Kardachi, who also owns Press Food and Wine, The Pot, Melt, Maybe Mae, and Bread & Bone.

The interior was designed by Studio Gram, the wine list by Tim White; food is by Andrew Davies and Mimi Rivers, and front of house is Chris Woodcock.


Pan-fried scamorza. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

The menu is heavy on house-made pasta and gnocchi, but there is also a substantial list of small plates for sharing and, for the very hungry, there are roasts and braises. The crockery, linen, cutlery and stemware completes the pretty picture.

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At Osteria Oggi you can let the chef feed you with the Presto Pranzo (quick lunch; $45 per person) or Lento (slow; $65 per person) menus, which offer a selection of shared plates, but it’s also the go-to place for drinks and snacks at the bar.


Veal tongue with anchovy and tuna mayonnaise. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Favourite dish: Pan-fried scamorza cheese served with fennel, blood orange and cumquat ($18). Scamorza is not as salty as haloumi and, combined with the aromatic and bitter-sweet marmalade of citrus and fennel, it was almost as indulgent as dessert.


Grain salad with scorched leeks. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Other dishes: We wanted the fried lardo soldiers ($4.50 each; lardo is Italian pork fat that has been cured with herbs and spices), but decided to go with the grain salad with scorched leek, currants and goats curd ($18). The smokey, caramelised tender centres of the leeks were so good (and surely much healthier) that we quickly forgot about the lardo soldiers. The veal tongue was thinly sliced and served with an anchovy and tuna mayonnaise with fried capers ($18), much like the classic vitello tonnato. And the salad of green frilly reginette pasta served with crisp prosciutto, fresh green peas, ricotta and mustard oil ($22) was fresh and light, as should be.


Reginette pasta with Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Something sweet/to drink: Forget the idea of a scoop of ice cream served with a shot of espresso, Osteria Oggi’s tiramisu affogato ($15) is a proper dessert: d’Angelo coffee-soaked sponge sitting on coffee Anglaise, topped with chocolate hazelnut parfait, vanilla sabayon and a cocoa-coated tuile. “The desserts are some of the best dishes,” Woodcock says. The drinks list is also good, offering a mix of local and imported beers and wines without too many of the usual suspects, and an opportunity to get to know some new Italian wines and locally produced varietals.

Osteria Oggi
76 Pirie Street, Adelaide, 8359 2525
Open Monday to Saturday, 11.30am til late.

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