Julio’s, a favourite haunt for West Perth workers for over thirty years, has been transformed into a swanky but approachable Italian diner. The iconic residence of Perth menswear moguls, the Walsh family, has been retained as part of a multi-million dollar hotel development. The rear of the historical house has been knocked through and now blends with the modern foyer of the Sage Hotel.
The Sage Hotel sits in what was essentially the back yard of the Walsh family’s heritage listed home which dates back to 1902. In 1982 the home was sold and become a West Perth favourite, Julio’s Italian restaurant, hosting dinners for mining executives, Lady Gaga, Bono and Beyoncé amongst others. The restaurant was then closed for a number of years. The new owners have kept in mind its beloved history with West Perth locals, by keeping the Italian restaurant, beautifully restoring the building and period features. The dining room has been stripped right back to the original bare brickwork, fireplaces, timber flooring and ceiling beams, whilst still managing to retain its cosy charm.
Arriving in the restaurant, via the hotel foyer, we’re greeted by a waitress who takes us to a table by the window. She offers to take my soggy umbrella – it’s a very wet and blustery night outside. I look over the well selected wine menu, the choices are mainly Australian. There’s also a good selection of French sparkling wine and Italian varieties too. A local red from the Swan Valley catches our eye. As the waitress pours the Robert Bowen Shiraz, $82, she tells us that the grapes are from Pemberton and Robert Bowen is in fact a regular at Julio’s. It’s a nice touch to get a little extra info and the wine is a wonderfully smooth Shiraz too.
The menu is made up of cicchetti (savoury snacks), primi (pasta) and secondi (mains). To start we enjoy creamy polenta fritters, $9. The rectangular fritters are golden and crisp on the outside. We dunk them in a calabrian dip – an Italian style aioli.
We also relish the truffle duck terrine, $19. The moist, fudgy meat is served along with chunks of pear, poached in nebbiolo, a red wine from Northern Italy. It’s finished with a hazelnut crumb. The flavours work well together, though I would have liked a little lavosh or crusty bread to spread the terrine onto.
For main I can’t go past the potato gnocchi, $22. The hand rolled gnocchi is tender, but a touch doughy. Topped with tiger prawns, zucchini and a creamy gorgonzola cheese and chili sauce it’s a comforting dish that’s bursting with sweet and garlic flavours.
Chef chooses the hearty sounding lamb shoulder dish, $32. The locally raised lamb is very tender, as it’s braised in extra virgin olive oil. The generous portion of meat sits upon artichoke and a chickpea puree. The dish is covered in rocket and finished with pistachios, for an extra crunch.
We toy with the idea of ordering a side dish, though knowing how generous and filling Italian food often is, we decide against the extra food. The Sicilian caponata, with mozzarella, basil pesto and crispy eggplant sounds delicious, but will have to wait for another time.
There are four options plus a cheese plate for dessert. We find it hard to choose, so we order the dessert plate, $35. This selection gives you a taste of three of their desserts. Julio’s open cannolo is delicious. The chocolate cannolo, made to a secret recipe, is filled with a nutty torrone (nougat) ice cream. The silky saffron panna cotta jiggles on the board. On the side is a sweet raspberry jelly and praline. A slice of warm limoncello caprese cake is a little dry, though topped with the creamy citrus limoncello sorbet, which adds much needed moisture.
The reincarnation of Julio’s is a mainly a hit. The tasty food is mostly on point, just a few technical misses to iron out. The dining room is beautiful and the service is friendly and prompt. Bellissimo!
At a glance
1309 Hay Street
Phone 08 6500 9111
■ Opening times
Open 7 Days
Breakfast Mon to Fri 6.30am – 10.30am
Sat & Sun 7am – 11am
Lunch 11.30am to 3pm
Dinner Tue to Sat 5pm to 10pm
Sun & Mon 5pm to 9pm
value for money 3
■ style – Modern Italian
■ wine –mostly Australian wines,
with a few NZ and European drops.
■ Chef – Simone Ariano
■ Owner – SilverNeedle Group and ADC
■ feel – Classic, old meets new.
■ wheelchair access – yes
Entree – $8 – $39
Mains – $24 – $34
Dessert – $14 – $35
■ all in all – a wonderful fusion of
modern and traditional elements in
both the venue and Italian menu.
Service is friendly and efficient.