AFTER 20 years in the property game, Neil Alessandrino has decided to seek greener pastures as a restaurateur.
And what better place to open his first restaurant than on the ground floor of the $40 million St Georges Apartment complex on the corner of Victoria Avenue and St Georges Terrace, for which he was once the selling agent.
The trip to the office is great (he lives in an apartment above his restaurant) and his partner, Simone Olliver, is a talented chef who now has full control of the kitchen.
The restaurant is called Il Palazzo and, unlike many St Georges Terrace restaurants, it has good visibility from the street and offers great views.
“I’m really big on glass. I like being able to see out and I wanted that here. I think Victoria Avenue is the prettiest street in Perth. It has got the trees and the architecture and stretches right down to the river; you want to see that,” Mr Alessandrino says.
He also wanted to provide a place that offered comfortable seating, good ambience and good food, something he says is lacking at that end of the terrace.
“There is nothing much around here in the way of something that suits the suits. Nothing too stale and nothing too up market, but at the same time not a cafe,” Mr Alessandrino says.
“This place is comfortable for people to walk off the street in a pair of jeans and for those who wear expensive suits. It’s stylish, warm, and affordable.”
Local artist and good friend Spiro Politis has supplied the restaurant’s artwork and all are for sale.
“I had a guy in from Melbourne last week and he wanted to buy the sunset picture. He said he’d be back for it,” Mr Alessandrino says.
“I think they work really well in here.”
The restaurant has comfy, high-back plush blue chairs that provide a little extra comfort, and he is keen on leaving generous space between tables.
“I didn’t want something that was jammed together. You get that all the time,” Mr Alessandrino says.
“You go to somewhere really nice and you can’t hear one another because it’s so loud, or you can hear people right next to you.”
So, while there is space to fit about 120 chairs, there are only 80 on the floor.
And although Mr Alessandrino is focused on the food game, he is also a strong supporter of excellent coffee.
“I’m a big coffee drinker and I’m really keen on it. You can have the best meal in the world and if you get a bad coffee at the end of it that’s what you remember …the bad coffee,” he says.
“So many places put emphasis on getting a good chef and a good floor manager but they leave out the coffee. They think anyone can do it. But they can’t.”
Il Palazzo opened three weeks ago and is open for breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday, and open for dinner Thursday to Saturday.
However, its popularity may force changes to the schedule.
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