It feels like it’s been a long while since I’ve eaten at a restaurant in Perth. I keep saving my money for interstate/international restaurants, mainly because nothing here really compares, but that’s probably bias at work too. I still love Sydney the best. Of course, if I’m offered, I’m not going to pass up an opportunity to visit a restaurant that’s been raved about by chefs and critics alike.
I don’t do Italian food because it’s done so poorly and your average non food person thinks it’s just all pizza and pasta, really heavy, tomatoey things. I always look for something more, like a fish soup, white pizza, or really light looking dishes, but they’re hard to come by. Rosetta was really good, but not a standout – the best thing there was the olive oil for dipping bread in. There’s so much mediocre stuff out there and I’m not game enough to learn the world of Italian food. But given the rave reviews and a great opportunity, I decided to give Lulu La Delizia a go.
A bit of background, there’s a restaurant in Perth called Lalla Rookh that caught my attention when I first came to Perth. The second Italian restaurant I was recommended was a place for Galileo. I never went to either. But, I’d heard that the head chef of Lalla Rookh quit to open a new restaurant, and lo and behold, I saw it pop up during some of my walks. I’ve always been curious about it, and then the reviews started coming in, saying it was the best pasta, not just in Perth, but was holding its own against level of praise of places like Tipo 00 (which I still need to go to!).
I like the decor, it’s pretty nice. And do you see that San Bitter bottle holding the twig of rosemary? That was pretty cool. And yeah, that’s the head chef towards the centre of the photo. I may or may not have been staring ever so slightly.
I also had a great conversation with the waiter because at this point he asked me if I was a blogger. Definitely not. I don’t like saying I am (even though I have a blog lol?), so I kind of just said I had an Instagram account but didn’t consider myself a blogger. There was also a conversation about the last restaurant I’d been to, so I mentioned I went to Waku Ghin. At the mention of Singapore, he asked if I made it to Burnt Ends. I said that I’d preferred sampling the street food there, but that I had made it it Firedoor instead. At that point he smiled and said I was a real foodie!
And another shot, just cause.
Pan e sugo
OK, onto the food. This was bread, but the bread was gone by the time I was bothered taking a photo (I was hungry). Bread, with cultured butter, and vegetable sugo. The sugo was ok, the butter was great, but it was the knifework on the sugo that really caught my attention. Can you see how finely chopped all those veges are? It reminded me of the tartare from Fix Wine Bar! I’m impressed. I should one day do some crazy knifework again.
Hey a beef tartare on the menu! Described as raw beef crostini, smoked bone marrow, anchovy salsa. This had a great vinegary hit and the crunchy crostini really brought texture to this! Again, really nice knifework, but on the beef itself, I reckon Fix was better. I’m so shallow!
Oh yeah. We got snack things at the start too. Deliciously addictive herbed popcorn! These were so good! I only decided to take a picture of them afterwards. I think I’m getting out of practise when it comes to taking pictures of food…
Braised globe artichokes
I’m addicted to artichokes even though they cost a fortune (relatively speaking), but they are so delicious. And I’ve been wanting to see what a restaurant does with artichokes. I hate the overly vinegary stuff from the supermarkets, and I’m pretty sure I was slightly disappointed that the last time I ordered artichokes from a restaurant, they were still a little too acidic. But this, this was really nice. It was lemony, but like lemon zest and lemon oil, rather than being soaked in lemon juice. The anchovy fillets were amazing and not overly salty or acidic either, and the ricotta helped balance out the strong lemon flavour. I quite liked this dish! It was also a better and lighter choice than Nonna’s meatballs, which I also really wanted but knew I wouldn’t have room for. That’s a next time dish I reckon!
Gnocchi was my friend’s choice, though we got everything to share. I was more after the pasta since I’m a tougher pasta critic than I am with gnocchi (I almost never eat gnocchi, and avoid risotto like the plague). I was amused because as always, gnocchi really is just potato lump things, so trying to get it looking good in a photo was difficult! So top down it was. My memory of my favourite gnocchi is pretty old and undocumented. I think it comes from Andre’s Cucina back in Adelaide. Anyway, the texture of the gnocchi was nice, but it was the sauce of blue swimmer crab, tomato, basil and chilli sugo that really made this dish shine.
Special pasta of the day
I love specials. There’s always something so exciting about the anticipation laden moments of time between the waiter announcing there are specials, and then hearing them. I love that point in a restaurant outing. It’s like the most glorious few seconds where nothing is actually happening, but you know that the next moment could be the most exciting moment for your ears. And imagination. Or something. Having not stalked the restaurant’s or chef’s feed, I didn’t know what to expect. As soon as I heard that there was double sided pasta, I was sold. I really wanted to see this double sided pasta. Saffron one side, basil on the other. Green and yellow ribbons!! I just had to. And vongoles sealed the deal. Yes, I love clam pasta.
It was a fantastic dish. That pasta was perfect, it had chew but there was not even the slightest hint of undercookedness. It was like this is exactly how pasta is supposed to be. It had bold flavours but wasn’t heavy. It was amazing. And to top it all off, I tried playing with my food, but the two layers of basil and saffron were so well melded together in that thin ribbon that I couldn’t separate them. That was so cool! Absolutely stunning stuff.
The one dish I regret. It was tasty; don’t get me wrong – it was a light fluffy cream, well soaked sponge and that chocolate powder was lovely and rich. It was actually the waiter who took our dessert order that made me think that in hindsight, I should have ordered the fried custard. Basically, he came up to us and asked us if we were going to get the crema fritta. After placing my order, he got it wrong repeating it back to us, again saying the crema fritta. It made me wonder if this was something everyone ordered, and that I should have asked about and also tried. But alas, I didn’t, and now I want to go back and try this wonderful thing that the waiter kept talking about. There are times your waiter is not wrong when he or she is wrong. Take hold of that chance at serendipity! Fried custard might be waiting!
I almost never order cheese desserts. But I’ve been loving gorgonzola dolce recently, and in fact, earlier that day, I almost forked out $15 for some, but decided against it because it would have cost too much money. So when I saw this as a dessert, I couldn’t resist. Blue cheese and honeycomb is such a good combination! That was my night of happiness complete.
I managed to order perfectly for two people, so I guess I’m still good at getting food portions right! And this was definitely a fantastic restaurant experience and it’s exactly what I expected from an Italian restaurant. The flavours were great without being heavy or oily and everything was cooked so well! Again I have to mention, I loved that the flavour of the artichoke stood out and wasn’t drowned by sauce.
Overall, yes, this deserves all the praise it gets. It deserves its top 100 position in whichever one of those magazines, and top 50 in whatever other magazine. As far as I’m concerned, this is the only Italian restaurant you need to go to in Perth. And I like Italian food all the more, now having eaten here. I can’t wait till I get to visit Tipo 00!