Same Name, New Faces
WEST PERTH has recently seen the re-opening of Julio’s Italian Restaurant. The heritage building, originally built in 1902, has been beautifully refurbished and stands beside the newly built Sage Hotel West Perth. The venue is located in West Perth, on Hay Street.
Julio’s Italian Restaurant first opened in 1985, and has always been known as one of Perth’s best celebrity hangouts; having seated numerous well-known guests such as Beyoncé, Pink, Michael Buble, and U2 over the years. The venue closed its door in 2013, but has now re-opened, so we went to check out what head chef Simone Ariano is serving up.
The venue has an outside garden courtyard, as well as a large indoor area with exposed brick and wood, juxtaposed against elegant fireplaces that have been fully restored. One wall is taken up with a window to the meat locker, and there is an impressive array of wines that I will talk about later. The room feels rustic, welcoming, and elegant without being at all pretentious.
Julio’s is still a high quality Italian restaurant, but head chef Simone Ariano is not afraid to use ingredients and techniques from other regions to give his menu a bit of flair. This was apparent straight away from the first two dishes that came to the table. The arancini with mushrooms, spinach, feta, truffle and parmesan were definitely some of the best arancini I had ever eaten. The rustic, earthy flavours of the mushrooms and truffle were enriched perfectly by the rich saltiness of the parmesan and feta cheese. It was an excellent start to our meal and would make a good sharing plate for anyone who didn’t want a full meal.
Another entrée we tried was the chicken liver on ciabatta bread, with ricotta and sage. This was a slightly more unusual dish that used the flavours of onion, sage and ricotta to balance the strong creamy flavour of the chicken liver. I was very pleased to see that they are using free range West Australian chicken for this.
The next two dishes we tried were the gnocchi and the ravioli. The gnocchi are hand rolled and served with tiger prawns, zucchini, gorgonzola and chilli. The flavours were light and elegant, and matched beautifully with the 2015 Spy Valley Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand). The ravioli was served with beetroot, goat’s cheese, brasato beef sauce and almonds. This dish had a very rustic feel, with large ravioli squares, and thin slices of beetroot on the plate. I found that this dish also matched well with the 2015 Spy Valley Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand).
After that, it was on to the mains. We had the Spatchcock Diavola and the Lamb Shoulder. The Spatchcock Diavola is a pair of chicken thighs, crumbed with lemon and chilli pangrattato, and served on a bed of cannellini beans drizzled with vincotto. This dish would be great for someone who likes a bit of heat, as the spices give it a kick.
The Lamb Shoulder came with artichokes, hummus, rocket, chilli and pistachios. This rich, yet wonderfully balanced dish really highlighted the skill that Simone Ariano and his team bring to the table. The Lamb Shoulder went best with the 2015 Quartier Pinot Noir (Mornington, Victoria), the strong flavours of which were matched by those in the dish. We also found that this dish was greatly enhanced by the Sicilian Caponata side dish. The Sicilian Caponata consisted of buffalo mozzarella with basil pesto, red onion, tomato and eggplant, and it offered a fresh, palate cleanse that cut through the rich flavours of the lamb shoulder.Finally, for dessert we had a decadent tasting platter, with a tempting and delicious assortment of cannoli, ice-creams and chocolates. This is a new dish that wasn’t yet on the menu, but will appear in the near future, so keep an eye out for it.
From our visit to Julio’s it was clear that, while they have maintained the high standard of service for which Julio’s has always been renowned, they have also been working hard to make themselves more available to a wider client base. The menu ranges from high end to casual dining, and the pricing demonstrates this. Main courses, including pasta dishes, range from $22 to $34, and entrées and share plates range from $6 to $39. The wine list is pretty impressive, and will be expanding even more in the near future. At the time when we dined there, wines were between $7 and $19 by the glass.
Julio’s opens seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is also available for functions. The venue has a classy, yet rustic feel, and is suitable for families, business lunches, casual gatherings, or romantic evenings. On the day we visited, they had only been open for two weeks, and already they were doing a bustling trade. So why not pop in and see what has changed at Julio’s Italian Restaurant?
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