18/06/2008 - 22:00


18/06/2008 - 22:00


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Fremantle's Italian cuisine culture lost one of its pioneers, truffle season celebrations are wafting to Perth.


Fremantle's Italian cuisine culture lost one of its pioneers when Roma Restaurant founder Nella Abrugiato passed away on 10 June at the age of 77.

Along with her husband, Frank, Mrs Abrugiato started the restaurant that was to become a Fremantle institution in 1954 on High Street, and was fully involved in the day-to-day running of operations until Mr Abrugiato's death in 2000.

Their daughters, Morena Abrugiato, Viviana Murray and Mirella Keutzer, took over the High Street eatery and decided to sell it in 2006 to Nunzio Gumina, who renamed it Villa Roma.

Although the venue was embraced by tourists and locals alike right until the end, it had a difficult start in the 1950s as the port city was quite unpopular at the time, according to an interview Mr Abrugiato gave to the food and wine magazine, All about town, in 1987.

"...we were very brave to open in Fremantle, not Perth. Fremantle was really neglected then...for the first few months, things were very slow but it eventually picked up and we've been busy ever since," he said.

In recognition of its formative role as one of WA's hospitality icons, the City of Fremantle presented a special plaque to the Abrugiato family in 2006.


Truffle season celebrations don't only take place in the state's Great Southern region, where the delicacy is cultivated.

The 2008 Mundaring Truffle Festival will provide fans, and the inquisitive, from Perth with an opportunity discover or re-discover the aromatic fungi from August 1 to 3.

The big name of French fine dining in Perth, Loose Box Restaurant proprietor Alain Fabr├Ęgues, is one of the driving forces of the festival.

Mundaring, where the Loose Box is located, was chosen to hold the event to continue the French tradition of holding the truffle festivals in small villages.

Mr Fabr├Ęgues, along with Melbourne-based Vue De Monde head chef Shannon Bennett, will give master classes over the weekend.

Other events will include truffle dog demonstrations, a Perth Hills wine show, truffle tastings and, of course, truffle dinners.

Now in its second year, the festival attracted more than 2,000 people last year.


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