Howdy all, and today it’s a review of a place my wife and I ate back in April for a family birthday celebration. It had been a little while – a month – since the previous time I had been out to a restaurant (or similar) so it was great to finally get to something I could actually review! Oh and spending time with family is nice to yada yada yada….
So the location, not chosen by me, was a winery in Warrandyte South, with an Italian restaurant and café, indoor section the restaurant outdoor I believe making the outdoor section presumably the café. They boast on their website – ‘Visit Olivigna Restaurant and be transported to a picturesque escape in Tuscany & enjoy modern Italian cuisine and warm Mediterranean hospitality.’ So, the first question, is Warrandyte South similar to Tuscany, Italy?
Well, to be honest, not so much. But maybe after a very dry Summer. Warrandyte South is an outer suburb in Melbourne’s north-east which does cross the line and become the ‘countryside’ for the most part. Using the toll way I was able to get there in about 45 minutes from my home, I imagine on the freeways and tollways from the centre of Melbourne it’s a similar sort of driving time. Public transport? Probably not viable but Google told me a mix of train, bus and walking could get me there in around 90 minutes to two hours.
So anyways, the place seems quite nice, and there is a bit of Italian to the architecture, a few hedges. It was nice enough, there were some sort of stables next door – well, people riding horses which you don’t get everywhere. Then there were the power lines not quite directly above but just to the side between the two properties which did spoil the view a bit.
Anyways. We had a booking at 1130am for lunch as that was all that was available more than a week before dining there. And we were meant to be out by 115pm. Everyone was there by, well, shortly before 12pm and so we ordered reasonably quickly. Because we had to! The staff asked us to order all courses from the getgo, presumably to speed the whole process up. 1.75 hours is actually a very short time to have for a meal when there are nine people sharing a table.
There was a fair bit of seafood on the menu, my wife ordered barramundi. Others ordered seafood pastas. I think everyone went with a main and dessert no-one had an entrée. They had a limited menu and I looked it up and down and was going to have the pork. There was a wood-fired oven there and so I asked if there were pizzas available, and there were! So I went with an old favourite of mine, a capricciosa which in this instance had sliced ham, mushrooms, olives, anchovies and artichokes. I, as always, asked for no anchovies. For some reason this request often gets forgotten which frankly, I mean, I HATE anchovies. What’s with this disgusting salty furry things and why would I want to pollute my pizza with them? And yet, it’s an instruction all too often ignored. But thankfully not in this place.
Well, the pizza was really good, which I was thankful for as the reviews for the restaurant were a bit mixed. The dough was really nice, not too thin or too thick. I was really happy with it. I had the caramel doughnuts for dessert, and I really liked them. Because there was hardly any caramel to be honest, I didn’t really fancy anything else on the dessert menu. The doughnuts were actually a it hit across the table. My wife was really happy with her fish. A lamb ragu was also chosen by a couple of people and that proved to be a good choice too. But the seafood pastas were less popular.
The service was generally fine but not amazing. The staff there seemed to mainly be young kids probably in their first jobs, and they were fine but I do like a place where the staff are welcoming and it’s something Italian restaurants often have a name for. The restaurant was packed and a table of around 30 was in and out in less time than we were.
Pricewise, it was a little expensive, around $70 to $75 a head splitting two bottles of wine as well. But that’s also not outrageously expensive either. The space was nice. I imagine in the middle of winter with a roaring fire it’s very atmospheric.
All in all, not a bad meal. I think the menu though was a bit limited and you certainly want to check it out online before going to make sure there’s something there for you. It’s also a fair drive but wineries are seldom in the middle of town anyway. Looks like a very nice setting for a wedding – and people do have weddings there! The look was Italian, the menu was Italian, but it didn’t feel very Italian despite that.
Thanks for reading today, take care, and May the Journey Never End!