Lubiana Vineyard Osteria

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Rowbottoms Road, Granton
03) 6263 7457
Open: Lunch Thursday to Monday noon to 3.00pm and cellar door 11.00am to 3.00pm.

“Osteria: Public place where they serve wine and other beverages as well as local dishes”.

Opened last Easter weekend, the osteria is the final component in Monique and Steve Lubiana’s beautiful new, Tuscan-inspired cellar door and underground barrel room.

Coming in out of last weekend’s cold and rain, we were welcomed by a large roaring fire in an enormous stone fireplace which divides the cellar door from the kitchen and tables of the osteria. Beyond that was an expanse of landscaping and lawn yet to be completed and the osteria’s large, carefully tended vegetable garden. Beyond that again were the fabulous views over the Derwent. It really is a delightful, atmospheric space and an unbeatable position.

Matt and Amber Kemp – respectively restaurant manager and marketing, sales and event manager – honeymooned in Tasmania two years ago, fell in love with the place and jumped at the chance to return when they saw the positions advertised, Matt after years with famous Adelaide Italian restaurants, Cibo and Rigoni’s Bistro, Amber from a sales and marketing position with Hugh Hamilton Wines in McLaren Vale.

And, in Amber’s expert guidance to the wines and in Matt’s food suggestions and professional, relaxed service at lunch, their experience showed.
The chef is Carlo Venettacci, formerly chef for four years at Don Camilllo and prior to that, at Maldini’s.

He says he’s aiming to produce “food that you can relate to, that brings the table together. Family food.” Monique added, “We want the food to be the simple, rustic, fresh and healthy, traditional style that you find in family-run osterias in Italy”. Accordingly, as many of the vegetables, herbs and leaves as possible come from their garden, the menu is small and changes weekly and the food comes ungarnished.

The week before there was a pasta and a wood-fired pizza. On our visit there wasn’t. Instead, six of us shared our way through the menu’s eight dishes beginning with well-made pork and duck rillettes – more French than Italian – and a risotto of goat and porcini, both nicely rich and creamy.
Then two charcoal-grilled spatchcocks, segmented and seasoned with lemon and fennel salt with separate side dishes of good roasted potatoes and the chef’s take on panzanella, Tuscany’s famed bread and tomato salad.

For my taste, some of the food was under-seasoned. That’s perhaps understandable these health-conscious days. But everyone is different and I feel it would simply be polite and avoid any suggestion of affectation were salt and pepper placed on the tables.

Desserts were a layered trifle of morello cherries, kirsch-soaked savoiardi, zabaglione and mascarpone, impressively spooned out at the table from an enormous glass bowl, and a delicious lemon, honey and olive oil polenta cake topped with brandied apples, mascarpone and fresh walnuts.
To finish, a slice of Taleggio with excellent ciabatta and sun-dried muscatels.

The rillettes apart, the food is just as the Lubianas want – simple and totally unpretentious in the true Italian way, perfectly suited to the style of the place. Equally important, it was perfectly suited to the wines – or the other way round. As impressed as I usually have been when reviewing their wines, with the food at lunch the 2012 barrel-fermented Black Label Riesling, the ’12 Primavera Pinot and the ’08 Reserve Merlot were even better. Which is exactly as it should be.

So, altogether a most enjoyable lunch and a great addition to the South’s vineyard dining scene.

Rillettes $14/$22; panzanella $14/$24; risotto $29; spitchcock $22/$32; desserts $14; 2012 ‘Primavera’ Pinot Noir $10/$42

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