They say location is everything. If so, this NY-undercroft-style diner should have perished years ago. Moodily hidden beneath the Terrace, the modern Italian trattoria continues its unresting pursuit of sparkling, fresh fare.
A refurb of the precinct topside has given patrons added reasons to venture down, but it’s the increasingly lyrical menu under the assured hand of head chef Alexandra Haynes that’s the real attraction.
A plate of thin ocean-fresh slices of tuna on a bed of mascarpone sprinkled with capers and dried, crumbed veal is a stunningly simple “reverse” vitello tonnato; full of earthy, umami goodness. Poetic-sounding witlof, pickled fennel, stracciatella, kumquat and candied walnuts come as a glistening tower of citrusy, aniseed lusciousness. It’s an astringent, creamy and citrusy salad all in one bite. Perfectly balanced – like much of Haynes’ cooking.
Wagin quail is farm-fresh, nicely charred and lemony and paired with a corn risotto (haters of creamed corn beware). A veal cutlet has a delightful pink blush, with a firm, crunchy and salty crust flecked with parsley. It’s sparsely plated on earthenware and a lemon puree with a thatch of emerald-green spinach.
Sweets have a similar sophisticated edge, with delicate slim cannoli logs stuffed with a light ricotta “mess”, silky hazelnut custard, all dusted with pistachio and icing sugar. With young, attentive service and one of Perth’s great wine lists in the adjoining enoteca, you can see why the crowds keep flocking back.