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A food trail with gusto

Ed

Two words: ‘Fremantle’ and ‘food’. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Italian, right? Ever since Italian migrants first spearheaded its fishing industry in the 1880s, Fremantle has been cosying up to the idea of pizza and pasta, garlic prawns and chilli mussels. The main foodie strip is colloquially named after a certain froth-topped Italian coffee. Gelato shops abound.

But there’s Italian and there’s Italian, and when in Freo you want to know you’re getting the real deal.

The new Gusto Italiano Trail identifies some of the city’s most authentic Italian eateries–from relative newcomers to decades–old family run establishments. It lists eight must–do restaurants within strolling distance of each other. Consider a grazing event with a course at several stops. There’s no rush to get from antipasti to primi to secondi–and one must always leave room for dolce.

1. It’s tucked away, but do seek out Parlapa, an unassuming family run café whose gnocci and slow–cooked ragu is legendary among regulars. It’s not open nights, so consider it for lunch on a day trip. Bring an appetite.

2. Roma Cucina is among the longest standing of Freo’s Italian eateries. A stalwart of the West End since the 1950s, the former Roma Restaurant is still run by members of the same family. Simple, rustic Italian is on the menu.

there’s Italian and there’s Italian, and when in Freo you want to know you’re getting the real deal.

3. At Pizza Bella Roma, Mario has been a pizza chef for more than 25 years. That speaks volumes about the consistency at this Cappuccino Strip favourite. Its big menu promises flavoursome, generous servings of every offering imaginable. Pizza is just the beginning.

4. Craving an authentic wood-fired pizza? Sandrino Café and Pizzeria does thin crusted, gooey topped, hand-stretched creations made by proud pizzaiolos. Handmade pasta and other Mediterranean offerings are also on offer.

5. La Sosta has the hat trick: a grand two-level venue with a deep deck overlooking the strip, an impressive wine and cocktail list, and an open plan kitchen producing rave worthy pasta, seafood and meat dishes, plus house made bread. This local favourite gets the big tick from the Italian Council for Italian quality and authenticity, in the form of the Ospitalita Italiana award.

6. Making the best of its Market Street Piazza location, Portorosa spills out into an alfresco area with giant market umbrellas–great for people watching. Wood fired pizza and big serves of whatever Italian fare takes your fancy are all here.

7. Some cafes fall foul of fickle public favour. Not Gino’s. Tailor Gino Saccone started the café in 1983 when he couldn’t find a decent cup of joe in town. Gino’s still holds court on the strip as the go–to coffee haunt to be seen at, run by three generations of the same family. Home style Italian cooking completes the offering.

8. Harking back to simpler times? There’s a strong hint of the 1950s at Capri Restaurant, a visit to which is as much about the charming décor as the genuine Northern Italian food. This long standing establishment is great value, unpretentious and family friendly.

Off the trail
These establishments are south of Freo’s centre, but worthy of inclusion for being stand–out, real–deal Italian nosheries.

Ruocco’s Pizzeria e Ristorante
Always heaving with people, Ruocco’s was the first to do wood fired pizza in WA. Its exhaustive Mediterranean menu shows it hasn’t rested on its laurels. 

L’Antica
One for the true Italy-philes. Not just for the food; the décor and bric a brac here is steeped in cultural references. The coffee is excellent.

Dolce & Salato
Cloistered near a shopping centre, there’s a fresh daily supply of pizza, focaccia and pastries issuing forth from this South Fremantle gem.

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