Osteria La Passione
This tiny, inconspicuous Italian restaurant up the east end of Bridge road is rather unique in that it doesn’t have a menu. Not even a set degustation menu – nothing at all. Curious?
Previously they were only open for dinner, however recently they started doing a $25 ‘express lunch’ on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, which includes a pasta or main and a glass of wine. This immediately caught my interest as Osteria are within walking distance of my workplace.
The waitress asks us which type of meal we prefer and if there’s anything we particularly like or don’t like, but other than that we are in the hands of the chef. For the sake of being different, Bob and I decide that one of us should get a main, and the other a pasta.
Bob is presented with chicken cacciatore. The tender chicken on the bone and capsicum are served in the flavoursome braising liquid which is asking to be mopped up by the complimentary bread.
I am served pillowy morsels of handmade potato and pumpkin gnocchi with the chef’s special ragu; the waitress eagerly advises me that the pumpkins and the beef are from both from the chef’s farm in the Yarra Valley. The mince is super-fine and the flavours are rich and moreish. I was also glad to have bread, just to soak up every last drop of the sauce.
Being sweet tooths, we couldn’t help but order some dessert to share.
The vivid pink sponge, cream-coloured custard and mousse-like chocolate layer evoked memories of childhood Neapolitan ice cream. The cake was moist and boozy, having obviously been soaked in some sort of sweet liqueur, however I couldn’t place the flavour. A bit of googling suggests that this dessert was zuppa inglese, in which case the liqueur in question would have been Alchermes, a bright red, spiced-infused spirit.
I like Osteria’s concept. Their paddock-to-plate ethic, coupled with the fact that there is no menu, means that everything on your plate is fresh, seasonal, and would likely mean that food waste would be minimised.
It’s simple, it’s authentic, and it’s a bit of an adventure. I’ll definitely be a regular here.Osteria La Passione 486 Bridge Road Richmond