Partly owned and run by the team from Leichhardt's Grappa, Oliveto is the first restaurant to take advantage of Rhodes' waterfront development boom. And it's gotten first dibs on location, too, splendidly isolated in grassy Brays Bay Reserve. Oliveto's glass-encased dining rooms take in serene river views, with pockets of bushland, wading birds and the odd pleasure craft sailing by. Oliveto is an unexpected indulgence on a sunny day, and at night dark slate tiles, subdued lighting and clean, classic lines make it a casually elegant affair.
The wood-fired oven is at the heart of Oliveto, filling the restaurant with the aroma of baked pizza crusts spiked with garlic oil, and wonderful traditional-style pizzas with toppings like pancetta, radicchio, rosemary and fontina. The oven turns out meatier options too: the pork and fennel sausages are first-rate examples of their kind, and the marinated spatchcock with spinach and parmesan farro also benefits from its rich, smoky char. Don't overlook the pastas: the gnocchi, pappardelle and tortellini are all house-made. Rounded off with an Italian cheese platter and a robust barbaresco, the result is a cucina rustica experience that's uncommonly authentic. It's early days yet, but Oliveto certainly sets the bar high for other restaurateurs eyeing-off this neck of the woods.