Those who have made the journey understand the magic of Griffith: a true Little Italy with all the culinary prowess to go with it in the heart of NSW.
Commonly known as the food bowl of Australia, this Riverina melting pot is home to world-class wineries, fresh produce and nation-building heritage. And that’s just the start of it…
Located in the north-western part of the Riverina region, Griffith is a six-hour drive from Sydney or a 90-minute flight with Rex. Sharp airlines flies to Griffith from Melbourne.
And while there is a too-many-to-list amount of attractions that might draw you to this underrated city, one of its biggest drawcards is undeniably food.
Remarkably, 60 per cent of the city’s residents have Italian heritage. Because of this, Griffith has become a tiny melting pot of Italian culture, boasting extensive vineyards, locally grown produce, and restaurants that still retain the authenticity that comes with sharing recipes through generations.
If you find yourself in Griffith – and let’s face it, you really should – here are our picks of where to get your feed on.
Follow along with our interactive map below to help you plan your trip:
1. Miei Amici Cafe
The charm of Miei Amici has little to do with the food (although that’s excellent) and more to do with its convivial atmosphere and the personality of its owners.
A Griffith institution themselves, Peter and Rosa Piccolo have been operating this warm, charming cafe since 2005, serving up great coffee, delicious breakfast, lunch and home-baked treats. The menu sources ingredients from the couples own pride and joy, Piccolo Family Farm.
The second you walk in the door you’ll be greeted by a friendly staff member, or maybe even a fellow customer. That kind of hospitality is just the kind of thing you’ll have to get used to in Griffith.
2. Bertoldo’s Pasticceria
Griffith simply wouldn’t be the town that it is without a 10/10 country bakery.
Bertoldo’s was established in the 1960s by Bruno Bertoldo and is still to this day owned and operated by Bruno’s children and grandchildren.
Their signature dish is the custard cannoli, and boy does it live up to its reputation.
3. Pages on Pine
Located within the Art Deco town of Leeton, a meal from Pages on Pine is certainly worth the 45-minute drive from Griffith.
In a modest cafe-style restaurant, Pages on Pine has earned a solid reputation for its good food and friendly service.
French-born chef Eric Pages offers a diverse range of dishes including tapas, confit duck leg with pork belly or Riverina beef with green peppercorn demi glaze.
There’s also a revolving selection of daily specials if you’re a gambling man. Although it’s a pretty safe bet.
4. Cafe Deli
Established in 1999, Cafe Deli is the kind of trusty, family-owned option that simply won’t disappoint.
Inside you’ll find plenty of locals (always a good sign), as well as owners Mark and Louise Valenti.
The menu features all your classic breakfast options, alongside a fresh salad and sandwich bar which includes a wide range of local and seasonal produce, including their own roasted vegetables and house-made focaccia bread.
5. La Piccola Grosseria and Italian Deli
If you’ve ever been to Italy (or if you’ve ever dreamt of it), chances are you’ll feel right at home at La Piccola.
Italian soccer merchandise dons the walls, garlic and chilli hangs from the roof, Italian radio softly plays in the background – this is the closest I’ve come to teleportation.
Order a coffee and a homemade cannoli (or three), pull up a stool at the window counter and take it all in.
6. Bella Vita Riverina Tours
OK, so this one might be cheating on account of it taking in multiple stops in one go, but once you go on your Bella Vita tour, you’ll forgive me.
A farm girl at heart, owner Cassandra is a Griffith local who created a tour company to showcase the most delicious tangible experiences of the region.
Guests are provided with a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most iconic local operators in the region. Enjoy hands-on access to the tastes of Griffith, while being given the opportunity to chat to some of the region’s warmest characters. This tour was really where the magic of the town came alive for me.
While each tour can be tailored to taste, below were my three stops.
Calabria Family Wines
Established by Francesco and Elisabetta Calabria in 1945, this is one of the Riverina’s largest and most celebrated wineries.
You’ll stop here for a wine and cheese tasting, alongside an informative history lesson about the highly acclaimed family brand.
Yarran is the name, boutique is the game.
This proud family owned and operated winery has a simple philosophy: make wine to be enjoyed and shared with family and friends.
Taste the rich history and winemaking tradition of the Riverina alongside an acutely picturesque setting, plucked straight from the Italian countryside.
With a history of smallgoods manufacturing that goes back to the 1950s, Codemo smallgoods do what they know very well. And what they know is salami.
A visit to the shop will give you the opportunity to taste the mouth-watering styles of southern and northern Italian salami, ranging from mild to extra hot to black olive. You can also dip your toes in some other Italian fare such as chillies, cacciatore and olive oil.
7. Zecca handmade Italian
Step one foot inside Zecca and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d teleported to one of Melbourne’s most famed Italian restaurants.
Housed behind the facade where Griffith bank once stood, Zecca aims to nourish the local community with wholesome, quality and seasonal regional Italian food. And boy do they deliver.
Owners Daniel, Ben and Michaela work alongside local farmers and producers to showcase the best of what Griffith and the surrounding area have to offer. And with that comes the best pasta you’ll ever taste in your life.
Each day brings fresh house-made pasta, alongside sauces, breads, salumi and cheese, made using locally grown fruit, vegetables and olive oil.
And for when the button on your pants simply can’t take any more, pick up your own artisan dried pasta, ready for you to enjoy the second you get home.
Limone is the shining star of the Griffith dining show. And on the throne is head chef Luke Piccolo.
If you’re savvy, you might recall his last name from above. His parents Pete and Rosa are the proud owners of both Miei Amici Cafe and the Piccolo family farm. I guess you could say that food is in his blood.
The restaurant was constructed by father and son almost entirely from locally recycled materials; the duo worked meticulously to ensure every screw and nail tells a story. And it’s one they love to share.
Straight from the Piccolo family farm, the restaurant provides fresh produce picked daily, prepared with passion and tradition at the helm.
Allow Luke to tell you his restaurant musings over a plate of the best seasonal and regional ingredients that Griffith has to offer.
I could seriously talk about this place for hours.