Julie-anne Sprague takes a look at the newest addition to riverside dining and finds a few familiar names are making moves around town.

WHILE he wouldn’t disclose the details signed with Multiplex to rent the space of his new restaurant site at the Old Swan Brewery, Albasio La Pegna thinks he’s got a fairly good deal on the position of his newest venture, Zafferano.

Zafferano is Italian for saffron and Albasio says that, while it is a seafood bar, it has a versatile menu and head chef Peter Manifis from the now defunct Gucce Restaurant will cook up a whole range of dishes.

“It has pasta, risotto, cold dishes, a variety of meats, the seafood bar and a variety of daily specials,” he says.

“We are providing a place for food lovers. It is a food experience, not a drinking experience. We will have a good wine list but it isn’t fine dining, it’s very approachable.”

The Old Swan Brewery restaurant (owned by Lion Nathan) is enjoying success at the eye-catching location, however issues of parking and access are of concern and Albasio says he’s currently working with the brewery to address those.

“We have a public car park across the road that is accessible from both sides of the roadway and the price is going to come down. I’m working on that at the moment and I’m hoping to reduce it to between 80c and $1 an hour,” he says.

“The ferry service is beyond our control and it is really hard when you are dealing with bureaucratic bodies.”

But lovers of Albasio’s Funtastico be sure not to frown. He will still be operating the Subiaco darling and says he enjoys a lot of support from his manager and brother.

“Funtastico has been running under management for some time and Ermanno is doing a great job. My brother Tony is also very committed, as is the whole team,” Albasio says.

Maritzio, Campo de Fiori’s maitre d will take up a post at the new site – a timely move as the Ardross Restaurant went on the market last month.

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é cucina’s manager Andrew Moody has moved to Kuppa. Andrew worked for Nick Trimboli for three years, both at Balthazar and é cucina. Nick sold the business to Steve Smith last year and Andrew remained as manager. He says he’s moved to Kuppa in Claremont because it gives him an opportunity to work at a smaller venue.

“It’s an exciting opportunity. To get back to a smaller venue is great. As much as I loved é cucina, you tend to lose people,” he says. Kuppa hasn’t had a manager until now and Andrew says he’s come on board because the owner wanted to “keep it all together”.

And, as for é cucina, we’re told there are plenty of experienced guys and gals that can handle the job until a new manager is appointed.

Be on the lookout for other new and exciting things from this popular Central Park restaurant. We’re told there could be renovations and they are looking at incorporating entertainment. The new owner has recently launched a curtain raiser menu aimed at the theatre market wanting a bite to eat before heading off to the attractions in town. Choose either an entree and main or main and dessert and they’ll guarantee to get you fed between 5.30 and 7.30, just in time for that concert. And while the dishes will be quick, they won’t falter on taste and design. é cucina’s executive chef Mark Longton says he wants to retain the innovation, style and quality that has become synonymous with the restaurant.

“We have developed an exciting menu that we know can be delivered in a timely manner,” he says.

“The menu will change weekly and will include é cucina favourites as well as many new additions.”

é cucina, which has always been open for night time dining, will feature the new curtain raiser menu between 5.30pm to 7.30pm Monday to Saturday at a cost of $29.50.

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Fans of Lawless and Chapman can indulge their nostalgia later this month when Iain Lawless returns to his old kitchen. Together, Iain and Bruce Chapman operated the popular restaurant, which closed in January 2000, with a silent partner. Bruce set up the Star Bistro at the same location in February 2000. He will take his first two-week break in four years on March 24 when Iain will take over the reigns. While Iain will only be at the helm until April 8, he will be adding special dishes to the menu, which he crafted in his travels around Australia and overseas. If you are a fan of Iain’s cooking or you want to get a taste of the history of Star Bistro, Gusto advises that you book a table. Bruce will head to our South West for a well-earned break.

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Last week Savoia played host to an adults’ game that has been growing in popularity and, no, it wasn’t a party involving American model beauties.

The game, Playing Up, was created by Fran Vos nearly eight years ago and has now become the subject of a radio competition.

While the promotion is aimed at the singles market, Fran says the game suits everyone, so long as you’re an adult – it doesn’t matter if you are attached or not. So just how does this game work?

By using simple character traits the game opens up the conversation and shifts the topic of talk from the normal job and family synopsis. Each dining guest receives a card with a description of a character trait they must exploit at some point in the evening. For instance, if you draw a snob card you would be expected to displays snobbish characteristics and traits, ignoring people and telling others how much you love designer labels and enjoy the finer things in life. Good luck if you get the rude/annoying trait where you need to burp and be as obnoxious as possible. As the evening progresses, people interact on a new level and standard conversation topics such as work or family get eroded or manipulated. The conversation is lively and, at the end of the night when you discover what type of cards everyone has, you’ll find the arrogant man at the end of the table or the woman who kept forgetting your name or that flirtatious person sitting next to you really isn’t that person at all. This game not only creates a laugh but, more importantly, breaks the ice between guests who don’t know each other and makes a very good tool for hosting functions. Fran is taking this product over east to sell in stores. It’s currently available for a RRP of $69 and would be a great idea for corporate event dinner functions. If you want to have a play before you buy you can attend a function at Savoia on March 28. It is $68 per person and includes an exquisite three-course meal with Saracen Wines. The evening will be a strictly Playing Up function so book a place to see what the newest social toy in town is all about.

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The leprechaun is back. While we don’t get the benefit of the next day off to recuperate, this day is one to be enjoyed with passion. Places to check out would have to be Perth’s Irish darlings. J.B. O’Reilly’s will be doing its regular all day bash. Breakfast starts at 8am in three sittings and bands start playing at 8.30am. There will be bouncy castles, face painting and, of course, lots of Guinness and Kilkenny. They have an extended liquor licence and will be open till 12am. Fenians, at the bottom of the Novatel Langley will be open for a 7am breakfast.

This is strictly limited to ticket holders so make sure you book! Rosie O’Grady’s Northbridge is the place to take the family.

It’s hosting St Pat’s day in the park, which has an annual turnout of 4,000 people. Entertainment starts at noon and will include bands, Irish dancing, Irish food, art and craft stalls and more.

There is no entry fee and Rosies does not take bookings. Paddy Hannan’s at Burswood is hosting an Irish buffet from 9am to 11 am for $15 a person. Live bands start playing at 9am and there will be plenty of prizes, give aways, and promotions.

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Beginning tomorrow is an oyster sensation at The Sheraton’s Origins Restaurant. If you dine at Origins and choose an oyster special you will also receive a small pearl. Sounds like a good reason to taste the delights of the Origins chefs.

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Upper Reach Winery is hosting its salsa night this Saturday night. $20 gets you entry into the winery for a night of fine food and wine and, of course, the Latin experience. Platters are available from the Upper Reach Cafe for $20 and will feed two people.

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Millioncino has a great lunch deal on at the moment. Gusto advises you to take two people out to lunch to experience the full benefit of this deal. If you bring one guest you get the lowest paid main course half price, which is a good deal but, if you bring two guests to lunch, you get the lowest priced main absolutely free. Millioncio is located at 451 Murray Street Perth.

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