A week or two ago, late on a Sunday night in Perth (about 8pm), Sharon and I were doing our usual trick of finding restaurants to be turned away from due to the kitchen being closed. Having not been turned away from many restaurants in Mt Hawthorn recently, we thought we’d try there for a change.
So cruising down to the end of the ubiquitously named Oxford St, we happened across a little pizza bar called Il Pasto. Finding out that yes indeed it was still open, we headed inside for a pizza, and possibly the strangest experience I’ve had in a restaurant for a while.
Arriving at the counter, we were slightly suprised to see the chef sitting out in the restaurant eating a pizza, while people were packing boxes around him. He quickly explained that this was actually the last night that Il Pasto was going to be in operation. They had recently sold the business to another operator, who was going to be opening up a Japanese restaurant at the site. He also explained that we were welcome to stay as long as we didn’t mind people packing boxes around us, and that there was only one pizza left. I took that to mean that there was only one type of pizza left, because they’d packed all the ingredients away…but soon realised it meant that there was literally one piece of pizza dough left from which it they could make us a pizza. So we literally had the last pizza ever in that restaurant.
So straight away the atmosphere was strange. Instead of customers we felt like we were friends who had somehow been roped into helping someone move. In part because they were so friendly. Carlo (the chef) and Sandra (his girlfriend) chatted away to us like we were old mates. We ordered a quattro with cacciatore sausage, sun dried tomatoes, mushroom, and artichoke, and bought a bottle of Pizzini Sangiovese, which was a steal at $20 (which is very likely cheaper than retail).
That was the other thing… everything was for sale… and cheap. The chairs, the tables, the book case, the olive oil, the wine, all of it. Carlo’s Dad was chatting to Sharon about how we was a bit sad the restaurant was closing… “but ahh these Japanesey” he said… “they makea good offer”. He was pottering around the store, packing things into boxes, at one point showing me into the store room to ask me if i’d like to buy any of the white wine or champagne in there.
So our pizza came, in amongst chatting, and we wandered around the shop picking things up, asking prices of this and that, drinking amazingly good and extremely cheap wine, and basically acting like we weren’t customers who had just walked off the street.
So in the end, we ended up getting the pizza, a salad, the wine, some extra virgin olive oil, some chilli infused olive oil, some truffle extract flavoured oil, and another 3 bottles of excellent wine (including a Montepulciano d’Abrusso). It was like a closing down sale meets restaurant in a Red Dot “everything must go!” extravaganza.
As for the food, it was nice. The pizza was tasty, the garden salad was as tasty as a garden salad can be, and the wine was phenominal. It’s only a shame that the first time we managed to get to the place, it just happened to be the very night it was closing down for good.
Still, I gave Carlo my email and said to be sure to let me know if he starts another restaurant up in the future, because if they can make people feel so welcome when they are in the middle of closing for good, then I would love to see them at the height of service. That kind of genuine friendly attitude and love of food is something that you just can’t buy, and you can’t fake, so hopefully Perth hasn’t seen the last of these guys yet.
Il Pasto *was* located at:
401 Oxford St,