First & Last Night at Il Pasto

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,
Mount Hawthorn

Cafe Banca

I make perhaps the worst restaurant reviewer in history. That is unless anyone wants to read a bunch of reviews about which restaurants are the best places to go to on a complete whim shortly before they close and still hope to get a decent meal.

It was a Thursday night, we’d been out shopping, leaving it too late as we always do, by the time the shopping was done (read: I got hungry and cranky), it was around 9pm. Now to most of you reading this post from the Eastern States or overseas, this might not be such a problem. If you’re in Perth however, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that the situation was dire. On a Thursday night, at 9pm, you’ve got a slim chance of finding anywhere to eat that isn’t a) Closed b) About to close c) McDonalds, or d) Primarily inhabited by drug addicts.

So it was a lovely surprise when we wandered into Cafe Banca at 9:15pm, and (after a quick consultation with the kitchen) were given a seat. Noted, we did have to order within 5 minutes, and asked to only order certain things because most of the stuff had been put away already… but we were so overjoyed at getting to eat at all it didn’t seem to matter.

Cafe Banca is a well appointed restaurant on Wanneroo Rd in Tuart Hill. It could be my local if I was one of those people who have locals, but I’m not, so it isn’t. It’s almost a little too funky for the spot that it’s in, which has lead me to question just how well they do there, but from the looks on the faces of the diners that were there (not being the kind of people who leave it too late to go out for dinner) it’s doing just fine.

We were initially seated next to the kitchen, but then moved to a comfy booth in the middle of the restaurant, one of the few booths i’ve been in that are actually comfortable and practical (I’m a big booth fan, but not when it means you’re sliding off the seat and have trouble reaching the plate because you’re slouched backwards in a highly trendy but utterly impractical way).

So, not wanting to overstep the mark of the already lovely service and hospitality we were shown, I promptly ordered the black and white prawn linguini, and Sharon picked the lamb shanks with mash potato, which I immediately wished I had ordered for myself. We also decided on a bottle of cheap wine to wash it all down, $15 for a bottle of Murphy’s Lore Shiraz Cabernet, crazy cheap, and a nice quaffing wine.

The meals arrived fast… a little too fast, but not surprisingly fast, if that makes any sense. By the time we got in and had ordered, the rest of the people in the place were ordering coffees or finishing off what was left in their glasses of wine before slinking back off into the night to their beds (like all good Perthites should). So there was nary an order coming into the kitchen except ours.

My meal was great, prawns were tasty and fresh, and the linguini had a chilli through it that gave it a nice kick. Sharon’s lamb shanks were so tender they fell of the bones before she could get to it herself (which I’m hoping was because they’d been slow cooked all day up until that point). The wine flowed freely and went down easily, to the point where we suitably rosey by the end.

At the end the owner was there to ask our how the meal was and generally made us feel like he was really happy we had decided to stop by, which was great. So you never know, it may just end up becoming my local after all.

Cafe Banca
75 Wanneroo Road, Tuart Hill
Phone: 9344 7007


#Foodography 7 – Wine & Bottle

Prunotto Dolcetto D'Alba 2003

Just a quick post. I recently entered one of my photos into the Foodography group on Flickr, which is run by Sam of Becks & Posh, and Andrew of Spittoon, and Andrew was kind enough to link to my photo on Slashfood. The theme this month was Wine and Bottle. So basically take a photo of a glass/vessel/mouthful(?) of wine, along with the bottle it came in. I played around for a little while and was super happy when this one came out so nicely.

Oh yeh…and the wine was great. It’s a 2003 Dolcetto D’Alba, by Prunotto. Lovely drinking, and went sublimely well with my humble spaghetti and meatballs… which I shall post up soon.

Ok, thats all…carry on :)

Italy Home Made

Italy Home Made - North Perth

At a recent Perth blogger meetup I ran into Kay, who raved in a nonchalant but cooly excited way about Italy Home Made, a little pasta bar on Charles St in North Perth.

I know the place pretty well, although in its former incantation… Poppies. Poppies is a cute little cafe tucked into a small group of shops, along Charles St in North Perth, a few streets before you get to Scarborough Beach Rd. We used to duck in there for late breakfasts and early lunches on the way back from the city on a Sunday afternoon or morning, and always managed to find a decent coffee and tasty meal.

Well Poppies is still there, but they have now extended the shop out to twice the size, and turned one half of the place into “Italy Home Made”. Basically a DIY pasta bar whose main angle is that all the pasta is made fresh on the premises daily.

So one afternoon last week I happened to be driving by and thought… I must just try this new place that Kay was raving about. Never one to turn down a good recommendation (until the day someone recommended Fasta Pasta to me that is), I decided to head in and check it out again.

Pasta Maker

So basically you choose the size of the pasta you want. Small, Medium, Large, Jumbo

Fresh Pasta

The you choose the type of pasta you want. Fusili, Linguini, Fettucini, Spaghetti, etc

Pasta Fillings

Then you choose what you want to have on it. I chose Atlantic, which was a creamy sauce mixed with smoked salmon and capers.

Pasta Sauces

Then the dude goes away and collects all the bits he needs, drops the pasta into some water and puts the sauce and toppings into a pan, and then combines it together. Toasts some little bread rolls for you and puts some grated parmesan into a little cup.

It was pretty quiet when I went in, and I had my meal (which was a large, and there was a lot in there) in around 10 minutes, which is pretty good for food of that quality. The pasta was nice, the sauces complimented well, and the fillings were very tasty.

I’d still like to know who decided that smoked salmon and capers were the perfect combination for each other though. I’m imagining some big conference where all the foods get together and have some kind of speed dating face off to work out who should is right for one another… Salt and Pepper clearly hit it off, Olive oil and balsamic vinegar were drawn together by their differences, and poor little Anchovy sat alone in the corner, in a pile of his own salty tears.

But I digress…

Italy Home Made is a great cafe with top food that will serve you well for a quick lunch, easy dinner (they are open in the evenings til quite late and are BYO wine with no corkage), or “I can’t be stuffed cooking but don’t want some crappy fried chicken type meal” takeaway solution. Check em out.

Italy Home Made
Shop 1 & 2, 299 Charles St
North Perth
(08) 9328 6350



Pronto is an excellent little restaurant nestled (well not exactly, but it feels nestled) away on Bay View Tce in Claremont.
It is also T’Anne’s (my colleague, fellow food lover, and soon to be contributor to this site) favourite restaurant at the moment.

Having worked in Claremont for around 6 months earlier this year, it was a regular spot to go for long lunches. Not that i need any excuse to take a long lunch, but having nice food to eat, wine to drink, and a pleasant atmosphere tends to lessen the guilt of not being at work.

Me at Pronto's

Pronto’s is classic Italian food. They do great wood fired pizza’s and freshly made pasta. My personal favourites are the Pizza Pronto (below), the Pizza Calabrese, and the Rigatoni Bosciola (below)… All really tasty, and if you’re not too hungry the pizza’s will feed two people. Of course i’m always hungry…so when i go i eat a whole pizza by myself and then steal food off other people who look like they need it less…

Pizza Pronto

The wine list is decent. It’s mostly Western Australian wines, and a few Italian reds. I personally think they should have a much larger selection of Italian wines, and offer more wines by the glass. The Australian wine selection is nice, but possibly not as appealing or eclectic as i’d like, perhaps catering to an older crowd. Then again perhaps i just go there too often and get bored easily.

Pronto's Rigatoni Boscaiola

The best thing about Pronto’s would have to be the atmosphere and the service. Despite the reputation Claremont has for being the hangout of the pretentious ‘old money’ types, Pronto is always bubbling with laughter and people having a good time, enjoying great food. This is because the staff make you feel like you’re old friends. Maybe it’s an Italian thing, but everytime you go there you get smiles, kisses, and the odd pat on the back to say thanks for coming.

Pronto's Vegetarian Zingara

The only downside about the place would be that you can’t book…and so if you get there at the wrong time you could be standing outside for a while (our record was about an hour) before you get a table. It’s a testament to how much people like the place that they’re prepared to wait so long. Also they use Segafredo coffee (which is bad), so i’d definitely give the coffee a miss, but then you can’t have everthing it seems. If you want great coffee in Claremont, head down to Lemon Espresso on St Quentins Ave. The excellent barista Nolan makes a mean short macchiato.

I just realised i’m starting to sound like an advertorial, which is what i didn’t want to do… But i don’t have enough bad things to say about the place… I’m sure they make bad food sometimes… but not since i’ve been there… I’m still working out how to finish these reviews nicely… And i’ve got to stop using so many ellipsis…

16 Bay View Tce
Claremont 6010, WA
Phone: (08) 9284 6090


Ciao Italia

Ciao Italia is one of Perth worst kept secrets. It’s an vibrant lively little restuarant in South Perth, where almost every day of the week you will find a queue of people outside waiting to get in.

Being fortunate enough to know the pizza chef (and most of the staff) doesn’t even help…there’s just too many people wanting to get in, and no space to put them all !

Half the time’s i’ve been there i’ve been put on the end of someone elses table, just because they need every seat they can get.

That might almost sound like a bad thing, but the atmosphere in the place is just buzzing the whole night. It’s like everyone is invited to some big Italian family dinner… which is really nice.

The one thing that knowing the pizza chef does help with is that whenever i order a pizza it’s freakin huge. The calzone shown above is bigger than my head… Not that that is a really good thing to compare it against, nor an accurate indication of big it really is… but its goood :)

If you live in Perth, and want a down to earth, friendly dining experience, with big hearty (tasty!) Italian food…then Ciao Italia is the place to go.

Ciao Italia
273 Mill Point Rd
South Perth
Tel: 9368 5500 (but they don’t take bookings ! )