Anticipation can be a delightful and a dangerous thing.
For me, the anticipation of trying Chef Joel Valvasori-Pereza’s new venue in Subiaco, Lulu La Delizia (named after his nonna), was one that seemed to build more and more by the day. After eating my weight in pasta during his tenure at Lalla Rookh, I easily consider myself a loyal devotee that was happy to follow him on his new adventure.
Between the craziness of work and then shooting off to Japan for a holiday, the opening of Lulu seemed to pass me by. But my return to Perth found me craving the authenticity of Joel’s cooking: and so for one of my last meals in 2016 Jeremy and I enjoyed a lunchtime date in Subiaco. Booking was essential, and after seeing the venue quickly fill up I was glad I made the effort to secure a table.
Situated on Forrest Walk, it’s a cosy place with wood features, pops of green and shelves laden with wine and ingredients utilised by the kitchen: of which I was pleased to see is open and begs you to watch the team at work. Poetry in motion, they operate like a well-oiled machine.
It looks modern but not ostentatious. Immediately as we were seated at our window-facing pews, I was taken by how comfortable I felt. The bright light streaming in from outside was a welcome addition, particularly since I take some snaps when I’m eating.
The menu is well balanced and offers a range of options. Six pastas occupy prime real estate, and include a special for the day. On our visit, it was tagliatelle with cuttlefish and squid ink ($28.00). Jeremy was quick to choose this for his meal – it’s one of his favourite pastas thanks to the thick-cut ribbons which sauce cling to with great dedication.
I was pleased to see some highlight menu items from Lalla Rookh have made the trip with Chef, particularly the mouthwatering, heart stopping bone marrow. This is one of my favourite bites in Perth ever. But on this occasion we somehow managed to skirt past this and chose the stracciatella di burrata, crisp nectarine, basil, chardonnay vinegar and lemon oil ($19.00) to share as a light starter.
Before we dove in to that, a complimentary amuse bouche of frico croccante with smoked mushroom. Delicate and crisp, this cheese wafer was morishly salty and the addition of the earthy flavour made it well rounded. Big tick.
When the nectarine and burrata starter arrived, it looked stunning. And I promise, it tasted even better. Purposeful ingredients (none of those herbs just for the sake of looking pretty), zingy flavours and burrata that literally melted in my mouth. I loved the use of both yellow and white nectarine, and that the stone fruit chosen was on the firm side rather than the overripe squishy pieces you can get sometimes.
Pleasingly al dente: the luxurious squid ink sauce well seasoned and flavoursome. Just the right sized portion when you’re eating pasta this rich and delicious.
Jeremy was pretty speechless, which is when I know he really likes something. Head down, fork twisting, small curve of a smile at the edges of his mouth. And barely a swish of sauce left on the plate after. Hands down we both agree Valvasori is THE pasta king.
Spying the ricotta gnocchi with blue swimmer crab, my heart skipped a beat for a moment. I am a gnocchi fiend, and this is one from my dreams – a go to when I used to eat at Lalla Rookh.
However the spaghetti with vongole, garlic, chilli and white wine salsa with pangrattato bruciato ($28.00) had my name all over it. I adore seafood (possibly because when I grew up my dad was a deep sea diver and I basically was raised with cray legs in my mouth?) and this one ticked all the boxes. Pasta, clams, flavour, texture, yes.
This is the kind of food you will write home about. Slippery pasta noodles were glazed in the sauce, the breaded crumb sticking to them with conviction. The vongole were sweet and succulent, the provided bowl for shells appreciated as I made my way through the mound.
While I would have loved to stay for dessert, sadly I had to get back to work so we finished up our pasta and then vacated to let the next diners take our place. There’s not really much else I can say about Lulu La Delizia except it’s truly something special. I knew I’d love it before we even went, and now I’ve tried it I think it will become a regular spot for me. Food this good needs to be celebrated, treasured and eaten as often as possible.
Note: so it seems once was definitely not enough for me and so after writing this post, I returned to Lulu only five days after my first trip. This time with my friends Kait and Ziad from The Hummus Club and Bryony from Perth Eats. Some snaps from the meal below: again, it was perfection.