Stefano Lubiana’s Osteria

Licensed $-$$$   Hat iconHat icon   Glass iconGlass iconGlass icon
Rowbottoms Road, Granton
03) 6263 7457
Open: Lunch Thursday to Monday noon to 3.00pm and cellar door 11.00am to 3.00pm.

The trees are now half-grown along what will be a beautiful tree-lined drive. Nets blanket most of the vineyard in a white and green checkerboard pattern, the vines heavy with fruit with vintage only four weeks away. The parking area has been enlarged and on my mid-week visit was almost full. The organic/biodynamic garden is powering. The views down over the Derwent are still stunning, the Italianate Osteria building and landscaping are delightful. And, with Italian chef Claudio Guidetti at the stoves and his Estonian pastry chef partner Kaisa Kliimand looking after desserts, the food is now even better than when I last reviewed it shortly after opening in May 2014.

After experience in a number of Michelin-starred establishments in and around his home town of Torino in Piedmont, Guidetti says the Lubianas are the only ones he’s worked with who are true to their professed passion for sourcing organic and sustainable produce. “They walk the talk” he says and that’s why he’s stayed.

Stefano himself explains that while respect for his Italian heritage will always be their solid base, the Osteria is not an Italian restaurant. “Just like our wines, we have to create our own style and recognise we’re Australian and part of Asia”.

Just as he pursues that distinctive style through such things as trialling pinot noir/nebbiolo-cross vines in the vineyard, fermenting Riesling in amphora and leaving the wine on lees for a time and having an unusual, but he says stunning, sparkling nebbiolo in the cellar, so he encourages the kitchen to use touches of Asia here and there by way of “the occasional use of sesame oil, toasted kale, seaweeds and so on”.

But in his handling of produce and his simple combinations of just three or four ingredients on the plate, Guidetti’s ethos is very Italian. The Lubianas have added a cold room so Guidetti can now hang and properly age whole carcasses and use every bit on his menus. He also now insists that the chickens from a local farm come to him together with their hearts, livers and gizzards. He even recently cooked and served buffalo hearts, which those prepared to try them claimed were delicious.

There was no such exotica on my lunch menu but, having tasted six of the seven dishes available, I would happily put the Osteria up there along with Fico and Templo as the very best of their style around Hobart.

The only disappointment at lunch was the pork and lobster ravioli where the amount of pasta in the saucer-sized ravioli hid the delicacy of their pork and lobster filling and the whole dish in turn was overwhelmed by the dull-coloured but strongly flavoured bisque with pork crackling seemingly added as some sort of afterthought.

That aside, the remainder of my meal, from the olives with excellent house-made focaccia through to the finale of Kliiman’s Nona’s apple tart was exceptionally good.

Shavings of rosy-coloured, house-cured duck breast lifted by the sweet sharpness of Nashi pear segments was a wonderfully fresh, light starter as was the following dish of melt-in-the-mouth slices of beef tongue offset against the crunchy crispness of pickled beans.

Then came what for me was the visible and flavour highlight of the lunch – dollops of wonderfully sweet and creamy goats curd sandwiched between thin slivers of pickled beetroot. Nothing original about the combination, but the visual and flavour appeal were something else.

Then followed lightly smocked calamari cut into fettuccini-like strips and tossed with marinated zucchini with the textural contrast of crisp seed crackers and then, very Italian, a colourful and refreshing ‘salad’ of seasonal cherry tomatoes with baked bread gnocchi, basil and mozzarella.
The wine list is an extensive selection of Lubiana’s current-release and cellar-aged wines and with Yasuko Hayashi managing the floor, the service was excellent.

Biological focaccia + olive oil $6, small-plate entrees $16 to $21, larger dishes $28 to $39, desserts $15, Chef’s menu $59

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