Until recently, Chef Joel Valvasori was Head Chef at Lalla Rookh in the city. I’d longed to go there for dinner. I’d heard and read many positive things about his celebrated traditional Italian cooking, but had never quite made it there. Once, we had our booking cancelled as the restaurant was closed suddenly on a Friday night with plumbing issues. Another time we had to cancel our booking because of the dreaded man-flu. I wondered if we’d ever find out what all the fuss was about.
When I heard Chef Valvasori was opening his own restaurant in Subiaco, I made it a priority to visit. So a couple of weeks after newbie Lulu La Delizia has opened, on a side lane off leafy Rokeby Road, we’re booked for lunch and as keen as mustard.
The eatery, named in honour of Valvasori’s Northern Italian Nonna, has a vintage feel about it. Lace curtains hang in the window, wine bottles and tinned tomatoes are stacked up the walls and lively 1950’s music grooves in the background. The Chefs busily work away in the open kitchen, where they spend hours perfecting their hand crafted pastas.
The menu is designed to share. It is made up of pasta dishes and “delights” (everything else) and we find that we want to choose most of the menu. A few of Valvasori’s signature dishes, like his famed braised bone marrow, have made to Subi. The six plate Chef’s selection menu at $62 per person sounds like the perfect choice for us.
A lot of thought has been put into the wine list, which is made up of wines from northern Italy and also Australian vineyards that use similar Italian grape varieties. I choose a Margaret River Rosé from Express Winemakers. It’s a fruity drop with raspberry and citrus notes.
An appetiser of thin cheese crisps, dusted with mushroom powder, get our juices flowing.
Next, we smother fresh house made bread with cultured butter and a rich vegetable sugo.
Crisp wood grilled chicken skin is served on skewers with rosemary vinegar. Chef would have happily eaten a dozen of these moreish morsels, smothered in tocj, the lip-smacking delicious pan juices.
The kingfish, cooked in an orange and aperol marinato, is served with juniper, sweet celery heart and baby cucumber. The fresh kingfish, combined with the diced veg makes a crisp, light dish.
A salad of lemon ricotta with asparagus and garden fresh broad beans is another summery dish, full of zesty flavour. It’s drizzled with a carciuga, an Italian artichoke and anchovy puree and lemon thyme.
Just as I think we need fresh plates, our friendly and on-the-ball waitress is already replacing them. Next, textural tubes of gargati pasta are served with duck livers, smoky pancetta and sweet onions. Up until now I haven’t liked liver (thanks Mum), but cooked in the right way, this offal is not as awful as I’d once thought.
The star dish for both of us is the hearty veal and pork tagliatelle della delizia. The silky flat noodles are coated, but not swamped, in a vegetable and red wine ragu which has an amazing depth of flavour.
For dessert a creamy grappa scented pannacotta vera is topped with a roasted cocoa and walnut crumble and dark orange caramel oozes down its sides.
We finish with sweet spiced doughnuts. The fluffy deep-fried delicacies are brimming with apple, sultanas and citrus zests. Bellissimo!
At Lulu La Delizia the kitchen team has aimed to make pasta the hero and they have absolutely achieved this. Prepare to be surprised by the deceptively simple dishes at this pasta bar. Each dish at Lulu compliments the last and leaves your wanting just a little more. This is soul-warming peasant food at its best.
At a glance
■ Lulu La Delizia
Shop 5/97 Rokeby Rd
Phone 08 9381 2466
■ Opening times
Lunch – Tuesday to Friday 12-3pm
Dinner – Tuesday to Saturday 5pm till late
value for money 4
■ style – Italian
■ wine – The interesting wine list features Northern Italian drops
and Italian varieties also found in Australia.
■ Chef – Joel Valvasori
■ Owners – Joel Valvasori and Ivana Pereza
■ feel – rustic, bustling atmosphere.
■ wheelchair access – yes
Delights $4 – $38
Pasta $27 – $29
Desert $9 – $20
Chef’s selection – 6 share dishes – $62pp
■ all in all – A top notch Italian eatery and wine bar with a menu
where authentic, fresh pasta is the specialty.