Variety and authenticity

FREMANTLE has a proliferation of places to wonder into and enjoy a bite to eat and relax into the evening. Over the past decade, more so during the past few years, we have a change from simple eating houses into venues offering a cosmopolitan dining experience with exciting modern food with a traditional and in some cases authentic European flavours keeping with the traditions around Fremantle.

One of my favourite places to eat in Fremantle is the long-standing Roma café. It is a restaurant that can satisfy every occasion, from dinner with the family to a quiet meal after a movie right down to a hearty feed before exploring the pints on offer with a group of the lads. There is just something about the Roma café’.

I have a vision of sitting outside my Tuscany villa surrounded by platters of local cheeses and salamis, of olives and freshly baked bread and bottles of Chianti. Things have changed here in Perth. Not that many years ago you would have struggled to find authentic Italian ingredients in more than a hand full of stores. Now days we find an extensive variety of produce in any number of outlets around Perth. Most of us would at some stage enjoy a flavour of Italy in our weekly meals.

With this Italian flavour in mind I went for a night out in Fremantle to discover an Italian restaurant (which always reminds me of that Billy Joel song, I wonder if it haunts him as well). After spending the standard three hours looking for the closest parking spot and navigating the intricate Fremantle road system, we settled on checking out one of Fremantle’s newest eating houses, Bacco in Marine Parade.

Bacco is part of executive chef and general manager Kevin McCabe’s Fremantle Trilogy of dinning house that also include the well established ‘Red Herring’ in East Fremantle and the relatively new chapter the ‘Surf Club’ on the sunny shores of Port Beach.

Bacco opened its door only a few weeks back and manager Simon says that, while it has been a comparative low key opening, the numbers through the restaurant have been encouraging. Bacco has been given a fresh touch up mostly in the kitchen areas and the main area is highlighted with an interesting choice of a fluorescent orange light. Lights don’t make food or wine so we settled in to explore the menu and extensive wine list.

I find myself tending to start with a good look at the wine list and Bacco has put together an interesting collection of Australian and Italian wine both by the glass and my size — by the bottle. It is interesting that there are not many of the usual suspects which is quite refreshing and it is great to see an Italian restaurant with a good selection of Italian varieties listed. Bacco to help you with the task of understanding some of the wines offers a wine flight consisting of three 50ml serves of the same variety but from different regions. For example you could taste Pinot Grigio from King Valley in Victoria, and Veneto and Fruili in Italy. It is great to see a restaurant encouraging you to explore.

Our primi – first — courses ( I almost feel Italian) were an Involtini of eggplant, capsicum and goats cheese on crostini and Ravioli of sea scallop with roast tomato, goats cheese, caponata and pancetta. Both were full of flavour and portioned adequately. Most of the pasta dishes are available in entrée and main sizes. To accompany us on our way through these dishes we chose glasses of Brown Brothers Pinot Grigio and also Masi ‘Mondello Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio.

It was a Wednesday night after the busy Easter break and the sailors were in town, the restaurant was, thankfully, quite. We arrived at around 8.30pm and although busier early on in the night there were only a few tables left when we arrived. A surrounding table of eight was involved with the ends of a business meeting and another table of two seemed quite involved in there own world.

The waiting staff all were very attentive and were not afraid to seek assistance when unsure of how some of the dishes were prepared.

I would expect staff to fully understand a menu they were serving but you must give a little grace with the time they have been open.

We had asked for a delay in the serving of our main courses and our waiter Simon was happy to comply. We settled into a fantastic bottle of Sangiovese from ‘Belguardo’ in Tuscany it had plenty of rich ripe fruit that matched a treat with my Osso buco with cannellini beans and salsa verde.

The Osso buco was tender and there was plenty of it, but unfortunately, as I had been out to lunch that day, I couldn’t eat it all.

The other dish we explored was the Marinated, roasted baby chicken risotto with artichoke and capsicum salsa that proved to be a winner with my guest.

He described it as real home-made risotto, the kitchen had obviously cared for the dish.

I found that the pricing of dishes very reasonable and the overall atmosphere relaxing yet had a funky feel as well.

You will not feel intimidated and should find plenty on the menu to chose from, which in itself is a good sign.

Other places worth a try in Fremantle are:


16 South Tce

Fremantle 9336 5811

Paradiso Restaurant

24 Hislop Road

Attadale 9317 4887

Capri Restaurant

21 South Terrace

Fremantle 9335 1399

Plus all the other usual suspects along the strip.

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