18 August 2023

Griffith's Limone restaurant and bar is light, lovely and utterly local

| Genevieve Jacobs
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man making a drink behind a bar

Limone is constructed from recycled timber and local fittings. Photo: Limone.

It’s Friday night in Griffith and after a long drive and a longer day chairing a conference, I’m looking for something easy and delicious to eat in this vibrant inland city.

Griffith’s multicultural pedigree is evident on Banna Avenue: there’s plenty of Italian food, a legacy of the area’s irrigation history, and I’m not sure where else in western NSW you’d pass Indian and Islander grocery supplies.

On the outskirts of town, the massive tanks at De Bortoli’s winery demonstrate the area’s significant winemaking legacy and in recent years artisan food production has blossomed, from handmade pasta to quince paste and olive oil. Driving into town, you’ll pass orange groves and vineyards aplenty, while further west there’s high-quality Riverina rice and nut orchards.

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And, of course, the city was also designed by Walter Burley Griffin: the radial layout and wide divided streets will be familiar to anyone who knows Canberra.

I make my way past Malcolm’s Chinese and the Happy Dragon (no doubt fine establishments, both), and head to the welcoming lights of Limone, where a warm glow is emanating from the timber-frame building.

plate of beef

Beef carpaccio is well executed, light and delicious. Photo: Genevieve Jacobs.

Limone’s chef and owner is Luke Piccolo, and there are some strong values behind the bar and restaurant. The building was constructed almost entirely from recycled materials reclaimed from the local area and the restaurant’s produce is substantially sourced from the family farm on Griffith’s outskirts. It’s harvested by hand and free of chemicals and pesticides.

Waste from the restaurant returns to the farm for compost or stock feed and the Piccolos have planted a small vineyard of Italian grapes from which they make their Lilias wine. It’s named for Lilias Maegrith who, with her husband Hugh, first occupied the soldier settler block in 1921.

It’s a good back story and the place is full of happy groups on this Friday night, accompanied by live music as they dine. Seated at the bar, it doesn’t feel strange to be dining alone. Both Luke and the wait staff are cheery and service is fast.

man preparing food behind a counter

Plenty of the ingredients used at Limone are sourced from the family farm on the outskirts of Griffith. Photo: Limone.

But more importantly, how does the food taste?

After a long day and lots of conference catering, I’m not looking for a big meal and happily, Limone does small and large plates. I choose a beef carpaccio with walnut pesto, pickles and watercress, accompanied by a radicchio salad with orange and vino cotto.

An Italian classic from the ’60s, carpaccio is easy to muck up with the wrong ingredients. Paper-thin slices of raw, top-quality beef are drizzled here with a creamy walnut pesto that plays well against the melting quality of the meat. Spiky pickles and biting watercress make this a fresh, light dish.

The radicchio salad is a good match for the carpaccio and I’m talked into a quarter of chewy sourdough bread, which arrives with a quenelle of whipped butter and lively homegrown olive oil.

dessert plate

Raspberry mousse cake is scattered with pomegranate seeds. Photo: Genevieve Jacobs.

It all pairs beautifully with the Lilias grechetto, a white Italian wine grape variety planted extensively in Umbria.

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Dessert is a little less exciting: raspberry mousse is sandwiched between layers of cake that feels slightly stodgier than it should, but the raspberry flavours are light and sweet, well balanced with a chocolate whey gelato and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds that add a pleasing crunch and sharpness.

It’s a well-executed, light and delicious meal, presented with care and pride. If you’re in Griffith (after a conference or just passing through), Limone is well worth your time.

Genevieve Jacobs paid her own expenses. Reviews are not based on a commercial relationship.

Limone is located at 482 Banna Ave, Griffith. They’re open for breakfast and lunch Monday to Saturday from 7 am until 2 pm, and for dinner from Thursday to Saturday from 5:30 pm until 10 pm. To find out more, head to Limone’s website.

Original Article published by Genevieve Jacobs on Region Riverina.

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