I am an academic and writer living in Melbourne. I love to travel and I also love writing about all the things Melbourne, regional Victoria and other parts of Australia have to offer.
Published December 22nd 2016
Italian restaurant and winery with a view
Olivigna is a winery and restaurant that will make you think you may be in Italy, yet its setting is very much Australian. There is so much to take in on your first impressions; the short drive through the beautiful vineyard; the cobblestone piazzo and very straight, tall pencil pines awaiting your arrival; La Sala, the villa-like restaurant, and the citrus orchard and surrounding vistas.
Olivigna is in a part of Melbourne's outskirts that you may not have visited before (shamefully I have to admit that I hadn't). If you have visited before, then you will most certainly agree to its pleasant country landscape, green, lush, gentle hills and the quaint atmospheric village of Warrandyte itself. Olivigna is located in Warrandyte South, about 5 minutes away from the village. It is not far from Melbourne CBD (app.30 km) but it feels like you are in a different world, a world of calmness, peace, the beauty of nature and the anticipation of a delicious lunch.
As with many successful Italian enterprises in Australia, two passionate and dedicated owners with a dream built up the vineyard and restaurant that is Olivigna. Anna Gallo and husband John di Pietro started the winery 20 years ago and opened the restaurant 2 years ago. Since its opening it has had many accolades bestowed on it and has featured on a number of TV programs, including Nigella Lawson's cooking show. The love and dedication of the owners is certainly felt throughout the property, restaurant and food.
On a warm, but not too hot, summer day, one of the best places to sit is on the terrace, enjoying the view over the vineyard and its surrounding hills and farm fields. What better way to enjoy a prosecco or two and an antipasti platter? The casual menu available on the terrace is perfectly suited for a lunch, early (or late) dinner or just an excuse to get out of the kitchen. Cheese selections, light meals and the delicious looking pizzas will satisfy the hunger while sitting in a perfect location enjoying the summer breeze and Mediterranean atmosphere.
The more substantial menu inside the La Sala restaurant offers a large range of main dishes, including fish, seafood and meat as well as daily specials of pasta dishes. Interesting antipasti with house baked bread and wood-fired pizzas complete the menu. The special pasta dish that I ordered was just like similar ones found in regional Italy, using fresh Australian produce. Tartuffo, cannoli, affogato and other Italian desserts as well as a good cheese selection and coffee provide a fitting end to the meal.
Delicious pasta of the day - strozzapreti with peas, zucchini and guanciale
The restaurant, with its extensive spaces, is well suited for large groups and celebratory events. Different options, depending on your group size, are offered in terms of space, including a private dining room for 15 or less. Group sizes from 10 to 100 can all be well catered for through a number of different set menu options.
A stroll through the property with its fragrant lemon and lime trees, kitchen garden and olive grove or a game of bocce can provide the necessary activity post-lunch. Before you leave why not pick up a bottle of Anna's limoncello, some Olivigna wine, a jar of pasta sauce or the delicious crusty bread at the Enoteca to complete the experience. And perhaps a master cooking class sometime in the future can provide the necessary inspiration for delicious cooking at home.