18/05/2004 - 22:00

A little bit of Italy in Northbridge

18/05/2004 - 22:00


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REGULAR Gusto readers will remember this correspondent’s culinary sojourn through Europe last year.

A little bit of Italy in Northbridge

REGULAR Gusto readers will remember this correspondent’s culinary sojourn through Europe last year.

One of the highlights was the indulgence of a twice-daily nicciola gelato for the fortnight or so I trekked through Italy.

Upon my return to Perth I noted that, among the many gourmet treats I had enjoyed, I was most likely to miss gelato the most.

In fact I told many people that I would have happily swapped the leather jacket I purchased in Florence for a big tub of what I believe to be the best ice cream in the world.

Well, now it would seem I can wear the jacket and eat the gelato too.

Il Gelato is a relative newcomer to Perth, having opened its first store in Subiaco about a year ago.

This week it completed its third Perth store, in Northbridge, (not far from Gusto’s desk) and will open another in Hillarys soon, proving its true-blue Italian formula is winning over Australians.

Co-owners Alfonso Puzzarini and Luca Naldoni have only been in Australia for a couple of years but quickly decided to open up a string of gelato bars after noticing that there weren’t any in Perth.

“I came for a holiday for six months and noticed that there were no ice cream shops [like the gelato shops in Italy]. I thought it was funny because it is Perth that has the best weather in the world,” Mr Naldoni says.

Together with the directors of Siena’s Mt Lawley and Leederville, the pair began selling gelato through a takeaway shop next to Siena’s in Leederville. 

After strong market take-up, a new brand and concept was launched – Il Gelato.

Its new Northbridge store, operated by Sal Marrapodi, is the first franchise-style outlet selling 30 different gelato flavours.

All three shops are presented with impeccable taste that only the Italians can deliver.

“We get everything from Italy,” Mr Puzzarini says.

“The tables, the chairs, the ice cream machine, the cups, it all comes from there. The only thing we get here is the milk, the fruit, and the sugar.”

And getting the gelato to taste just like the real Italian gelato is a combination of the machine and the ice-cream maker, Mr Puzzarini says.

“It’s a hand-made machine, not an industrial machine. With the machine that we have we can make about 30 or 40 tubs in an hour,” he says.

“With an industrial machine you can probably make about 200 or so; I don’t know but the difference is in the machine.”

Gelato is best fresh and Messrs Puzzarini and Mr Naldoni are up early each morning to “bake” their gelato.

“It’s very much like bread,” Mr Puzzarini says.

“You can eat it today, tomorrow or in four days’ time, but it tastes very different with each day. Gelato is the same and it”s best fresh.”

Mr Puzzarini owned his own gelato store in Italy and has brought all of that knowledge, and that of Mr Naldoni, to help create what could become a very big ice-cream store chain.

“We want to find the good position but there are a lot of areas that will be good,” Mr Naldoni says.

The Northbridge store is located next to the Plaka Kebabs store on James Street. Its new Hillary Store will open at Hillarys boat harbour in the coming months.

The owner of two taverns and Hillarys Italian Café, Adam Broadley, has bought the Sicilian Restaurant in Subiaco. The restaurant reopened a couple of weeks ago under the same name, mainly because a name change would be expensive, according to the restaurant’s general manager, Max Ings.

“We’ve got the word Sicilian on the tiles in here so we’re stuck with the name, but we are trading with a similar menu to the Italian Café so the name still works,” Mr Ings says.

“We’re doing specials for $12.95 to try and get that mid-week crowd. We’re not pretending to be silver service. We want people to come in for a quick, cheap, quality meal. We want people who have families to be able to come out and not pay through the nose.”

Mr Broadley has moved Mt Henry Tavern head chef Phillipe Williams across to the Sicilian to set up the casual Italian menu. Mr Ings was also previously working at the Mt Henry and now has his hands full in trying to make the 200-seat Subi restaurant a success – a task in which others have failed (the previous two proprietors’ operating companies have gone into administration).

The Australian Hotels Association held its annual WA liquor and hospitality supplier awards on Monday night. The operator of the Pot Black pool outlets, Mal Atwell, won the industry achievement recognition award for his service to the hospitality industry. Other winners included: beer sales team of the year (metro), Carlton and United Breweries; beer sales team of the year (regional), Swan Brewery Company; wine sales team of the year (metro) Southcorp Wines; wine sales team of the year (regional), The Houghton Wine Company; spirit sales team of the year (metro), Diago; spirit sales team of the year (regional), Diago; non alcohol beverages sales team of the year (metro), Coca-Cola Amatil; non alcohol beverage sales team of the year (regional), Coca-Cola Amatil; food service provider sales team of the year (metro), Sealanes; food service provider sales team of the year (regional), Dardanup Butchering Co; hospitality product and accessory supplier sales team of the year (metro), Hisco; hospitality product and accessory supplier sales team of the year (regional), BOC Ltd and QCC Hospitality Solutions; hospitality service provider sales team of the year (metro), Aon Risk Services; hospitality service provider sales team of the year (regional), Aon Risk Services; best on-premise beverage promotion award, The Swan Brewery Company for XXXX Gold Surf Life Saving Cause campaign; best bottle shop promotion Award, Carlton and United Breweries for VB One Day International Superbox; best new beverage award, Swift and Moore for CC and Cola and Diago for Bundy Dry Lime; best new hospitality product award, The Smiths Snackfood Company for Red Rock Deli range.

The owners of Gala Restaurant, Hans Lang and Marianne Kempf, have given the Applecross restaurant a new outdoor look aimed at providing greater street appeal and separating it from Piccolo Mondo, the restaurant next door. And new signage means that the restaurant is difficult to miss.

Fresh fish company Catalano's Seafood will test a retail concept later this year that could evolve into a chain of seafood retail outlets. Nothing has yet been confirmed, but Catalano's Seafood managing director Nick Catalano says the company would test the idea later this year.

“It will be a pilot project and it will be different. There will be nothing like it in Australia,” he says. “It’s in a development stage at the moment.”

Catalano's Seafood is also the company behind Northbridge’s Seaduce Restaurant, which opened a few months ago.


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