As a huge lover of all things Italian: pizza, pasta, bruschetta, cheese, lasagne and most of all garlic bread… the list goes on, becoming gluten free was a huge struggle for me. With gluten free alternatives always being at an extra cost, I have begun to avoid Italian food all together. There are alternatives in the supermarkets, but nothing comes close to the real deal, and most of the time I end up being disappointed.
With this being said, Mum and I decided we needed to find a great Italian restaurant in Adelaide before we move on with our Australian adventure. There were actually a few restaurants in the pipeline, but we chose Osteria Oggi. I have read about this restaurant numerous times, with raving reviews and beautiful pictures, but without a menu on their website, I have always been nervous about progressing. All it took was one simple call to discover they in fact have plenty of gluten free options, including PASTA, and with this, we were sold.
We visited Osteria Oggi at lunchtime today and were both very excited. We had only had a light breakfast, ready to indulge in a buttery, herby Italian feast. The restaurant is in the main business district, surrounded by sandwich and coffee shops, we almost walked past it- if it wasn’t for trusty Google Maps. The entrance to the restaurant is light, with a long bar and casual dining tables, however, when you walk through to the back, it opens up into a beautiful restaurant with high ceilings, seating booths and long communal dining tables.
There was freshly baked bread on the bar, along with amazing smells of cheese, cured meats and the main attraction, pasta, filling the air. After ordering drinks to start, an Aperol spritz for myself, and a prosecco for Mum, to our surprise, we were told that there was only a tasting menu due to the proximity to Christmas. I was slightly nervous as I like to see the ingredients of meals to try and identify hidden allergens, but I had to put my trust in the staff and food preparation in the kitchen.
Our waitress was clued up on intolerances and put my mind at ease, letting us know our set menu would be completely gluten free. We chose a three-course set, although there was also an option for five courses too. In the end, we were pleased with our decision, as we both ended up pretty stuffed.
With our drinks, we were given bread and olives. The bread was from the freshly baked loafs on the bar, served with delicious oil. Although this was not gluten free, Mum assured me it was delicious- nothing like rubbing it in hey?! I did munch my way through most of the green olives though, they were also very tasty.
Our first plate was a king fish carpaccio with grapefruit and radish. The fish, native to South Australia, was incredibly flavoursome and paired perfectly with the slightly sharp flavours of the grapefruit. The radish added texture to the dish, which otherwise, melted in your mouth. I was really pleasantly surprised by this and would definitely order it again if I saw it on another menu.
The second plate was not quite to my liking, but it required a lot of cooking skill and smelled amazing. The base of the dish was a cheese flan, which is very similar to a soufflé, topped with meaty, rich Bolognese. The Bolognese was delicious, and I did have a couple of big spoons of this, leaving the flan to Mum. She loved it.
Following the cheese flan, we were bought an orange and fennel salad as a palette cleanser, before our mains arrived. The salad had a balsamic glaze with fresh basil and pine nuts, along with radicchio lettuce and ricotta cheese. The sweet perfectly balanced with the tangy balsamic, and the soft ricotta was subtle but delicious.
There was a short wait between these dishes and the pasta, which was actually well received, as we needed some breathing time, and maybe some time to have another wine or two. This also gave us time to take in our surroundings, and mainly spy on what the other tables were eating. Large parties were sharing four or five different types of pastas, others with plates of cured meats and cheese.
Eventually it was our turn, with 2 plates of sausage pasta placed in front of us. One with gluten free rigatoni pasta, and Mum’s with curly pasta. I am pretty sure ‘curly pasta’ is the specific Italian name! Along with the pasta and sausage, there was also more fennel, chilli and a lot of delicious rich butter. Although this meal may have not been good on the hips, it was certainly a treat for the taste buds. It took me back to previous Italian holidays with Mum and Dad.
The gluten free pasta was delicious, and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell it apart from any other pasta they were serving, in terms of appearance. Mum said there was little to no difference in the taste either. All the pasta is made daily in house, and you could tell it was amazing quality. If I could buy bags and bags direct from the kitchen, I certainly would.
The food was rustic and relaxed, whilst also being incredibly stylish, an amazing combination. This description can also be extended to the dining experience as a whole. The staff were calm, yet also attentive, making our time at Osteria Oggi enjoyable to say the least.
Sadly, our only grumble was that there wasn’t any tiramisu soft serve ice cream for pudding. However, after all the carbs, maybe we didn’t really need ice cream too?! This won’t be stopping me from returning, I can’t wait to try the full menu after Christmas.