Perth’s love affair with Italy is long running and more passionate than ever. More than a thriving dining scene, Italian cuisine is an essential part of our food culture. Looking for a taste of the sweet life? Start here.
From porchetta panini at take-away shop Al Trancio to world-class pasta at WA Good Food Guide Restaurant of the Year Lulu La Delizia, and the famed apple strudel at Sicilian pâtisserie Corica, Perth loves a taste of la dolce vita.
Of course, this isn’t news for longstanding institution Capri, which has been serving its calamari fritti and red-sauce pasta to loyal customers for nearly 70 years; nor is it for the family behind The Re Store, who has been selling Italian groceries and deli goods (and original Continental rolls) from their Northbridge location since the Great Depression.
As our appetite for eating Italian has continued to grow over the decades, so too has our city’s list of stellar Italian restaurants and bars. Here are some of our favourites from our Top 100, plus a couple of newcomers to add to your hitlist.
For Excellent Italian Sandwiches, Pizza and Plenty More
A continental roll may seem simple, but Deli’s take on the classic is far more than the sum of its parts. Featuring mortadella, Hungarian salami, casalinga salame, fior di latte, tomato, olives, pickled chilli, red onion, lettuce and capsicum conserva, it’s a picture of balance, the house-baked roll the perfect level of crunch and chew, the fillings combining masterfully.
Contis make up the core of the menu – a chicken cacciatore variation, say, or eggplant parmigiana – but everything changes frequently. Overlook the fluffy focaccia at your peril, made even better as the bread component of a special toasted sandwich stuffed with roast pork, pineapple and hot sauce. Ditto the excellent pizza and meatball subs. And if service and seating is a little rough around the edges, keep in mind this kind of sandwich is a WA icon, eaten on the go or street side, or sure, perched at a table if you manage to squeeze into one. Plan out your order, and step into line.
861 Beaufort Street, Inglewood; @delis_continental
Four years in, and Si Paradiso’s raucous combination of bar, restaurant, dance club, garden party and outdoor amphitheatre is still holding fast as one of the most giddily fun places to eat and drink in Perth. In warmer months, there’s barely anywhere better to grab a frothy, amaro- and fruit-based cocktail than the magical courtyard, and it’s hard to think of a better first date spot than the parquet-floored dining room – its globe lighting, terrazzo tabletops and pops of greenery make it look like a 1960s Italian speakeasy (if such a thing had existed).
In recent years, the food has become more of a focus, and there are some seriously good things coming out of the kitchen. Snack on the lobster and prawn tramezzini, some of the most decadent finger sandwiches ever made (caviar is available as a topper for an extra charge), or on a bright, crisp cuttlefish tostada with smoked corn and pico de gallo. Creative pastas, hulking steaks and whole grilled fish are all available, but the place made its reputation with its Naples-style pizza, which is still some of the best around. However you decide to put this adaptable venue to use, you can be sure the results will be fun.
1/446 Beaufort Street, Highgate; si-paradiso.com
There’s the harried, but friendly service. The noise. The wood-fired oven at centre stage. This is the real deal; an Italian diner with just enough attitude to make you feel like you’re back on The Continent’s boot. But there’s no television showing soccer in the corner, no cluster of Vespas on the footpath outside. Just a constant stream of diners lining up for the scorched-crust pizza this stalwart pumps out – the sort that would make an Italian proud.
They could be here for the arancini with ragù and peas (or even better, filled with mushroom and Taleggio) that has them enthralled. Or maybe it’s the just-cooked mussels in a lively, slurpable sauce, heady with white wine, chilli and garlic. Vegetables are smoky from the grill. Cavatelli pasta is kissed by sweet clams, prawns and squid in a tomatoey sauce that you want to lick from the plate. Dishes can sometimes be too rustic and too generous, if that’s possible, as in thick pappardelle dressed heavily with a ragù of veal, lamb and pork. But crisp-shelled ricotta cannoli are second to virtually none.
250 Oxford Street, Leederville; pappagallo.com.au
Like these? Try Monsterella for wood-fired pizza and Abruzzo-style lamb skewers, Casa Nostra (who also add breakfast to the equation) or King Somm, or grab a takeaway pie from Casa Pizza & Wine. Plus, keep an eye out for Canteen Pizza’s new digs while the OG is closed.
La Madonna Nera
There’s no lack of warmth in this tiny wine bar. It comes from the staff, who brim with vigour and talk about the Italian (and Italian varietal) wines like they crafted them on site. They speak of the menu with the passione of a lover, making you want to just lounge and be sated. And you can.
The magnà e zitt’ menu means “shut up and eat”. Chefs may rotate in the kitchen, the same way artists do in a residency, with dishes changing as the cooks move through. A meal can be as simple as crostini with roasted capsicum, whipped ricotta and chilli oil, as lusty as fazzoletti with duck ragù and duck-fat pangrattato or as a comely as ravioloni stuffed with mushroom and béchamel in a porcini broth topped with pickled shiitakes.
This is clever, delicious food, made for smart, affordable but well-chosen wines. The flexibility means you can come and have a glass of trebbiano, or push the boat out with an eye-wateringly pricey Barolo and turn the small tastes into a full meal. Dessert is mostly an afterthought, but the chocolate custard “bonet” with amaretti and Beechworth amaro makes for a tantalising end-of-dinner delight.
1/155 Scarborough Beach Road, Mount Hawthorn; lamadonnanera.com.au
You know when you walk into a restaurant and the energy is palpable, the room is buzzing with happy conversation, the lighting is spot on, and everything seems right with the world? Mummucc’ is just such a place: intimate, welcoming, fun.
Chef Matt McDonald’s food is basically modern Italian but he doesn’t hew too closely to that mandate, particularly on the starters – you’re as likely to find Japanese phrasing and ingredients as classic Italian ones. Which works beautifully on a steak tartare crowned with a thicket of fried enoki mushrooms, which hide a soft egg yolk and bonito cream atop rich meaty Angus fillet. Raw amaebi (prawns) are cured in citrus and flayed over rice malt tomatoes, spruiked with fennel and basil kosho: freshness in a bowl.
Mains are all handmade pastas, like fluttery-edged campanelle with pancetta and smoked tiger prawns. The crew here are charming and friendly, especially if they realise you’re actually excited by the fantastic wine list and want to chat through it – expect mainly Italian and Australian varieties, leaning towards natural and funky. This is a place for gossip with friends, rowdy date nights, and a smashing good time for all. The prospect of ordering in pizza from sister venue Monsterella next door? Just another win.
Address: 6/46-56 Grantham Street, Wembley; mummucc.com.au
It may take three or four reads to make sense of the menu at Testùn. Even then, you’ll probably need a rundown of the “porchetta porn-ino” or “kare kare chicken spiedino”. There’s a lot going on – and yes, that really is Haddaway’s “What is Love” thumping from the speakers.
When the ideas work, they work. “Pasta takoyaki” Italianises the popular Japanese street snack by crumbing and deep-frying a block of rigatoni tossed with octopus, olives and potatoes, then dressing it in Kewpie-style mayo, Bulldog sauce and katsuobushi flakes. Skewers of grilled mortadella, meanwhile, land just-charred in all the right places, their saltiness offset by seeded mustard and chunky pistachio pesto.
12/760 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley; testun.com.au
The steep descent from St Georges Terrace to Lalla Rookh has become a familiar trek for crowds far and beyond the CBD; in the tree-lined al fresco area by the entrance and on the way to the dining hall, it’s not uncommon to find loosened ties and sneakers mingling with the likes of tailored blazers.
They might flow into the restaurant proper, where the à la carte menu celebrates the diversity of Italian eating culture backed by WA produce. Familiar staples like gnocchi and pasta run up against dishes with big flavours, such as venison carpaccio, topped with a cloud of shallot and parsnip. Smoky Fremantle octopus is paired with punchy ’nduja, while radicchio risotto comes blushing pink, with jewels of cranberries and hazelnuts on top – proving flavour can be picture perfect.
The six course “il Capo” menu keeps things spontaneous and follows the kitchen’s lead. The attached wine store, though, is where Lalla Rookh really shines. A true reflection of the spirit of an enoteca-style bar, it allows guests to choose from more than 300 wines from a diverse list led by Italy in an intimate setting, plus pick food from the restaurant menu and grab take-away bottles from the shelves. A destination before, after or for dinner, and in its own right, too.
77 St Georges Terrace (enter via Sherwood Court), Perth; lallarookh.com.au
Like these? Try Vin Populi in Fremantle or newly opened Bar Vino in Mount Lawley.
A Little Fancy, A Lot of Excellent
Lulu la Delizia
Since opening his Subiaco restaurant in 2016, Joel Valvasori has established himself as Perth’s most adept maestro of pasta and antipasti. But it’s about far more at Lulu La Delizia. Warm wood, orb lighting and walls lined with wine provide classic, cosy atmosphere. The wine list is mainly Italian (or Italian-style Australian), and many bottles are pleasingly affordable. Waiters are knowledgeable enough to guide you, and relaxed enough to tease you for ordering too much food – which you definitely should do.
A serving of Nonna’s meatballs with soft polenta and parmesan is perhaps too heavy a starter if you’re filling up on pasta later, but it would be a crime to guide you away from these plump, perfectly-seasoned beauties. Saffron- and gin-cured kingfish spruiked with juniper-infused vinegar and topped with crunchy celery hearts is a burst of sweet-fleshed freshness.
Do save room for the main event, because these pastas are something special. Spaghettini with clams, white wine and spigarello is as classic as it is delicious, the sauce clinging to the al dente noodles just so. Veal, pork, vegetable and red wine ragù enveloping tagliatelle is pure comfort. Indeed, this entire restaurant could be described that way – a bastion of comfort, warmth and dependably enchanting cooking.
5/97 Rokeby Road (Forrest Walk), Subiaco; lululadelizia.com.au
Whiling away the afternoon with a glass of soave in hand as you watch The Doctor hurry the paddle boarders north, or perched among the library of wine stretching the length of the walls, there’s just something about Il Lido. And the locals know it too. Whether they’re sipping espresso in their lululemons, dining clients, or dropping by with the kids post-school, it’s a mixed affair that all adds to the charm.
Plates traverse Italy, dancing between coastal Italian, cucina povera, lasagne and polpette, all while melding the best of the Med with the best of WA. Locally made burrata is balanced with sweet new-season plum and macadamias; charred octopus is achingly tender, its sweetness lifted by lemon rind and underscored by creamy chickpea purée.
The details matter here: pasta comes al dente, seafood tastes of the sea and robust olive oil gives dishes distinct boldness. It’s supported by sharp and knowledgeable service that stays charmingly Italian – staff effortlessly steering diners through the menus and tome-like wine list, which heroes Italian grape varieties drawn from the volcanic soils of the south through to the foothills of the north. Espresso hour? Aperitivo hour? Il Lido cries out for a visit any time of day.
88 Marine Parade, Cottesloe; illido.com.au
Like these? Try No Mafia in Northbridge, Dilly Dally in Subiaco or 1934 Trattoria at WA Italian Club.
In a year that saw Melbourne restaurateur Guy Grossi further cement his relationship with Westin hotels in Brisbane, his outpost on the Westin front here in WA seems well entrenched as part of the CBD dining firmament. Its natural advantages remain, much as they did when Garum opened in 2018: Hibernian Hall is a majestic space with soaring, timber-panelled ceilings alloyed to smart interior design.
The food is solid, uses good ingredients and embraces the odd Roman classic, such as a carbonara made with fettuccine or cacio e pepe with tonnarelli, a very Roman spaghetti-like pasta, and fine duck and porcini tortellini with pear and sage jus, that would well nominate for one of the city’s better pasta dishes.
Hibernian Place, 480 Hay Street, Perth; garum.com.au
Post is exactly what you’d expect from a contemporary Italian restaurant occupying a prime corner of the State Buildings. It’s classy and casual in the same breath, refined without losing sight of approachability.
The smartly appointed, atrium-like space does little to distract from the high ceilings and exquisitely maintained heritage features. Food takes a similar tack, clear in its respect for clean flavours and classic dishes from the bel paese. There’s hardly a thing you won’t recognise on the tidy one-page menu, but judging by how comfortable the business crowd looks on a Friday afternoon, nobody’s here to be challenged.
Instead, they’re here for the likes of crisp, saffron-scented arancini with stretchy cores of Taleggio, or tagliatelle napped in a savoury tomato sugo and nubs of slow-cooked beef. Seasoning could sometimes stand to be more assertive, but a gratifyingly crunchy pork cotoletta bolstered by capers, fried sage leaves and anchovy gets it right. An entrée of simply dressed octopus, shaved fennel and witlof, meanwhile, proves the kitchen also knows when to let good produce lead the way. It’s a tight package, made even more so by Emma Farrelly’s whip-smart wine list – a reason to visit in itself.
Como The Treasury Hotel, 1 Cathedral Avenue, Perth; postperth.com
Santini Bar & Grill
Santini takes pleasure in the theatre of eating out. Just look at the size of the menu, the tableside service, the leather, the marble, the brass-topped tables that bear scars of good times past. Guests know it too, dressing the part – boots shined, lips painted – and bringing real energy to a space already humming with it in its design and the waiters that flit past pouring picpoul from a vast wine list and dispensing advice on where to start.
Where’s that? Scallops, surely, flashed in the wood oven in orange and chilli butter so their tops caramelise and the flesh pushes just to that sweet spot past translucency. Or zucchini flowers, stuffed with lemony ricotta, fried, then doused in burnt-honey syrup.
This may be a bar and grill, but the Italian accent sees pasta offered before mains. You could skip it, but that means skipping ink-black carnaroli risotto. Topped with squid seared until set, it’s a striking dish rendered in black and white, the only thing lacking a little more creaminess. Steak? Try sirloin, perhaps. Purists may want more crust and flavour, but there’s no faulting its peppercorn sauce.
Big, bold and buzzing, Santini is about dining as experience, and just being here is half the fun. Dress up, and sink into it.
First Floor, QT Perth, 133 Murray Street, Perth; santinibarandgrill.com.au
With the opening of Stampa! reimagined Print Hall is introducing Perth to the sophistication of old-school Italian dining, where timeless charm and culinary heritage impress. Under the direction of executive chef Luca Minetti and head chef Paolo del Monte, the menu features lesser-known regional Italian dishes rarely seen in Perth.
Take, for example, fritters of wild mushroom pâté, grappa and Fontina cheese, or ravioli filled with sausage, pear and amaretti; a dish that featured heavily in chef Paolo’s childhood in Bergamo, a city in Italy’s northern region of Lombardy. It’s a menu that confirms Stampa! is deserving of its exclamation mark and home in heritage-listed Print Hall, where journos once punched out their scoops on manual typewriters.
Among burnished wooden floors, lush greenery and luxurious booth seating, enthusiasts can drink their way across Italy’s best wine regions, while those who love a good cocktail will enjoy creations like a Passionfruit Paloma.
125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000; printhall.com.au/welcometostampa-3
Like these? Try the restaurant at Pinelli Estate in Swan Valley, Julio’s in West Perth and Cecchi’s in its new spot at 1000 Beaufort Street in Bedford.