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June 3, 2024

Northern Italian restaurant opens in East End

Expect tapas like cicchetti and a non-intimidating wine list at Osteria Polpo on East Terrace.

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  • Words and pictures: Claudia Dichiera

Last time we visited the Osteria Polpo site, tables sat wrapped in bubble wrap and chairs were stacked on top of each other awaiting diners at its future opening.

This time around, owner Paul Serafin welcomes us into the space with a happy anticipation of what’s to come as the restaurant officially opens today.


Osteria Polpo
207 East Terrace, Adelaide 5000
Tue—Sat: 11:30am ’til 11pm
Sunday: 11:30am ’til 6pm


When we spoke to Paul in April, he explained to us Osteria Polpo would be reminiscent of northern Italy as his “parents are from that part of the world”.

The first thing CityMag notices is the restaurant’s interior and old school feel, with the building partly heritage-listed as it once belonged to Sir William Henry Bragg.

“If you go into a lot of Venetian restaurants, they’ve got these dark hues with a lighter wall and you got the darker tone underneath,” Paul says.

“The darker tables and they’ve got all that brass around as well, which is very old school.

“But we’ve tried to modernise it a bit. We’ve got that side – which is state heritage so we’ve kept that the way it is — but we tried to bring in some modern features, but keeping within that field with the dark hues and the brass.”

Venetian vibes


The Venetian vibe extends mainly to the food, with the main point of difference being their cicchetti offering as a tapas-style snack.

“The two most popular ones in Venice are something called sarde in saor, which is basically sardines in vinegar, and onion and sultanas. And then there’s another one called mantecato, which is a whipped baccalà so we’ll be having those,” Paul says.

“We’ve got some sopressa with some pesto on there as well, radicchio and artichoke, then you’ve got the white sardine, and a simple one with stracciatella and tomato and a bit of pesto, and then a mortadella with the pesto there as well.”

The strong aroma of the small cicchetti fills the space, which is what Paul was going for.

“That’s the whole idea; you come in either pre-dinner or during the day when you want a snack, you just come in and have one of those and a drink and a chat,” he says.

As for the rest of the menu, the main dishes range from house-made bigoli in salsa, Tuscan pasta with macadamia pesto, green beans and pecorino and classics like spaghetti vongole, all with a northern Italian touch.

Up close and personal with the cicchetti


One of Paul’s personal favourites is the charred Romanesco cauliflower.

“This is something that we’ve modernised here as well,” he says.

“When I was growing up, we used to make a bean soup — a fagioli soup — and then you’d put radicchio in there, and then you put the fagioli soup, and then you’d have that.

“So we’ve done a bit of a modern twist with that we’re using the Romanesco cauliflower and making a nice cannellini soup out of it.”

Paul says a focus for Osteria Polpo was to use local produce like Goolwa pipis and prawns from Port Lincoln to remain as sustainable as they can be.

Curated by sommelier Marcell Kustos, the wine list has a balance of Australian and Italian wines.

“But he’s managed to create and formulate a list that works well with the food as well,” Paul says.

“That was an important direction for me — not just to get a wine for the sake of getting a wine and making sure that it does work with the food as well.”

As the wine list hosts 53 different choices, Paul recognises this isn’t always easy to follow for a casual wine drinker as “people can get intimidated”. He’s categorised each wine into sections by flavour.

“That helps the customer know [what they like]. They may have a preference for certain styles… we want people to feel comfortable with it all,” Paul says.

“And they may like a light aromatic, crystal, mineral, white wine, and therefore, that’s what they can have.”

Osteria Polpo opens today and is located at 207 East Terrace, Adelaide 5000.

Connect with the business on Instagram for more.

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