25/01/2005 - 21:00

Expression of faith in Northbridge

25/01/2005 - 21:00


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The hospitality scene in Northbridge is experiencing a slow revival thanks to a couple of new operators who have upped the ante in both food and service.

Expression of faith in Northbridge

The hospitality scene in Northbridge is experiencing a slow revival thanks to a couple of new operators who have upped the ante in both food and service.

One such venue is Biaggio, which is a refreshing addition to James Street.

It’s been operating for about 10 months and, while initially its owners Gino and Katerina Maglieri found it difficult to attract new foodies to Northbridge, they believe this will happen over time.

So much so that they chose the former Red Orchid site over locations in Claremont and East Perth.

“Northbridge is so close to the city and at one time it was the place to be,” Mr Maglieri says.

“We have travelled the world, from Canada to Europe to the US, and we believe that history repeats itself; if there is an area that was good it will come back, it just takes time.

“The railway line will eventually be sunk and I really do think the area will turn around. We have a 20-year lease so we are in for the long term, but we also didn’t expect that it would be so hard in the winter months.”

Five Italian restaurants surround Biaggio, and while Mr and Mrs Maglieri have made a conscious effort to offer something very different to their competitors, they’re finding it difficult to attract diners, many of whom are choosing to go to Subiaco or Leederville.

“We’re not about pre-cooked food sitting there or $9.90 pizzas and pastas,” Mr Maglieri says.

“Everything we do here is fresh and because of that we don’t have a 20-page menu. We don’t fill up really big plates. We are offering quality here.”

And quality’s an issue the Maglieris won’t compromise on, even if it means shutting the venue to the public mid-week.

Instead, the couple will open the restaurant for private functions, an idea that’s already proving popular, according to Mr Maglieri.

“We decided to do that just before Christmas and people thought we had gone mad because summer was coming and it was going to get busier, but we were looking around and apart from New Year’s Eve very few places are full every night,” he says.

Mr Maglieri says people can book the restaurant for functions of 30 or more.

“People are really liking it because they get the whole restaurant to themselves, the bar, the alfresco area and all the floor space. We can then evaluate the costs so we can look at the wages and we can get it perfect.”

Mr Maglieri believes families need to come back into Northbridge, try the new establishments, and create a new vibe in the area.

“It has so much to offer and I really think it’s the families that have to come back. It’s so much nicer here now,” he said.

“There are so many great people that come here and we feel that a handful of problems is all anyone focuses on.

“I really feel that’s been cleaned up.”

The former Red Orchid was gutted to make way for the chic bar, lounges, funky seating and great private dining area that is Biaggio.

And while it’s a relative newcomer, it’s next door to Sorrento and opposite Vino Vino, both of which have been operating for more than 20 years.

And Mr Maglieri says the Biaggio team’s enthusiasm and dedication to the product will make sure they’re around in many more years to come.


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