A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Published April 9th 2019
The authentic Italian experience
Having heard good things about a local communal Italian restaurant, I decided to investigate. Our Place at Willunga Hill is open for Sunday Lunch hosted by Andy and Enzo Clappis, whose mission is to provide a thoroughly authentic taste of a big Italian feast. The restaurant seats about 120 people, who sign up for the shared menu of Italian delights.
The Big Italian Lunch This venue regularly books out and there were many celebrations happening at this big Italian Sunday lunch, including Italian musicians, birthdays and special occasions. It is a gregarious atmosphere. Our host Andy is not only cooking the food but takes to the floor, welcoming people and talking about the food. Andy announces the arrival that week of a newly installed Buddhist goddess statue near the entrance. The Goddess looks out across the valley of the Southern Vales high on Willunga Hill. There is an affinity in the Vales for Italian people and food. There is a Mediterranean outlook and climate among the coast and vines.
Looking out across the valley of the Southern Vales high on Willunga Hill
Let's begin our Italian food journey with the bread. The signature food of Our Place is the Clappis' artisan style, homemade bread. This is similar to a light white sourdough. The crusty bread is served with butter and/or olive oil. There is something very nourishing about warm fresh baked bread.
The signature food of Our Place is the Clappis' artisan style, homemade bread.
Food for Sharing Our Place is a communal place and all food is presented at the table for sharing. Waiting staff offer a series of entree nibbles. There is an unusual dish of baked chickpea flour called la farinata. Followed by moreish slices of pizza. There's a fresh salad of homegrown tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. Fried calamari is served and a rich platter of vegetable risotto, and some gnocchi. If only I knew someone who could cook half as good as this.
There is plenty of wine on offer from a small but adequate wine list. Andy then takes to the floor again to announce the arrival of the roast whole pig. The carnivores eyes light up. There is also plenty of roast veg for everyone that are crispy and a meal on their own.
Andy and his staff are attentive with providing a long lunch of exceptional Italian specialties, but also generously announce all the many special occasions in the room. There is singing and laughter for all the birthday people and even a piano accordion player to serenade us.
Fresh cannoli Siciliana The dessert is a finale worth waiting for as fresh cannoli Siciliana is served. You must somehow leave room for this dessert, an Italian favourite that is creamy and light. The coffee is a worthy addition to finish off, as with anything at Our Place, totally authentic.
The Venue Our Place has indoor and outdoor spaces and some somewhere between the two. The entrance has a covered pergola and water garden with lots of woodwork on display. The vaulted ceiling gives the room a feeling of plenty of space and screens above can be opened or closed depending on the light. A decking area looks out to an immense view across the valley, as dark clouds roll in to drive people inside.