Lombardy duo open Oster Italian restaurant in Richmond

The Italian restaurant features a concrete and recycled timber bar.
The Italian restaurant features a concrete and recycled timber bar. Photo: Ernest Tong

It's rare to see an Italian restaurant with an all-Australian drinks list, but it fits the guiding philosophy at Oster, loosely inspired by northern Italian osterias where everything from butter to wine comes from nearby.

Owners Osvaldo Tognella and chef Nicola Romano hail from Lombardy but met at Artusi in Southbank. When they left in 2016, they ran pop-up dining experiences under "Chapter 53", calling it quits after 18 months to focus on family and find a permanent space. They discovered it on Bridge Road, designing the 40-seat restaurant themselves.

Inspired by a stint in Japan, Tognella's non-negotiable was the low concrete and recycled timber bar. Other features include an olive paint job, exposed brick and Sicilian majolica tiles. 

Handmade spinach and ricotta casoncelli.
Handmade spinach and ricotta casoncelli. Photo: Ernest Tong

Oster, which translates to "host", is open all day with dinner service at weekends only until the liquor licence is extended.

There's $3 Silva coffee from Wesburn in the morning, a two-course lunch for $27 with a glass of wine and a highly seasonal dinner menu changing weekly.

That means a terrine and mango chutney or smoked eggplant with fior di latte and romesco could vanish any time. 

Lemon tart and Swiss meringue.
Lemon tart and Swiss meringue. Photo: Ernest Tong

Handmade spinach and ricotta casoncelli (Lombardy's stuffed pasta), topped with 48-month-aged grana foam and sage, has permanent residency.

Customers have already brought in excess herbs, lemons and even rhubarb for the kitchen, fulfilling Tognella's goal of bringing a sense of community back to Bridge Road.

Oster is open Mon-Thu 7am-5pm, Fri-Sat 8am-11pm at 76-78 Bridge Road, Richmond, 9428 0749, ostereatery.com.au.