It’s a big corner restaurant in East Perth that I’ve driven past countless times – and yet somehow never even realised it was there. Bistro Bellavista is unassuming on the outside, but inside it’s light, airy and lush with greenery. The crackle of the wood fire oven provides a backing track, and on the day I went for lunch, the dining area was full of family and extended family all celebrating a pretty adorable Italian gentleman’s 80th birthday.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when my friend Linda and I arrived there recently for an invited blogger’s lunch. But the minute the food hit the table, I knew my decision to venture out into the unknown was paying off. And seeing the swarm of Italians frequenting the inside, it seemed to reaffirm that I was in for a delicious afternoon of pizza, pasta and more.
Welcoming us was a board of WA tempura tiger prawns ($19.90 for six), arancini fritti ($13.50 for four) and chorizo. While tempura isn’t necessarily something I’d associate with Italian cuisine, these were my favourite for the entrees – light, succulent and well seasoned. I could have eaten all of them!
Entrees continued with a preview of pizza making in action. From the 72 hour rested dough being rolled out, dressed and placed into the 350 degree fire to cook for only two minutes.
Every couple on our table chose a pizza to be made – and Linda and I both knew we wanted to keep it sweet and simple, opting for a pizza margherita with tomato sauce, mixed herbs, bocconcini and basil ($16.90).
The others had their eye on some of the more topping heavy options like the pizza portofino with garlic, tiger prawns, bacon, olive and mushroom ($24.90) and the pizza pollo e pancetta with chicken breast, bacon, mushroom and capsicum ($25.90).
Already feeling full, we then progressed on to mains with a choice of the agenllo arrosto (lamb rack with pistachio crust), gnocchi al formaggio (potato gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce), spaghetti all marinara or tagliatelle all bolognese.
Both Linda and I couldn’t go past the tagliatelle ($22.90) which was wonderfully al dente, and rich from the bolognese sauce coating each strand of pasta. I would have liked a touch more parmesan, but I am a big cheese fan and tend to subscribe to the ‘more is merrier’ camp.
And while it was oh so delicious, and really quite impressive, I was happy to stop halfway and get the rest in a takeaway container – which I then enjoyed the next day at work. Needless to say, the fillings here are very generous.
Just when you think you can’t possibly eat anything more… then comes dessert. But none of us were complaining when we had these options to choose from. Homemade vanilla creme brûlée with almond biscotti and strawberry, classic Italian homemade tiramisu with layers of coffee soaked sponge fingers, mascarpone cream and cocoa, and homemade mascarpone and vanilla semifreddo with pine nuts, salted caramel and chocolate soil.
For Linda, it was an easy choice of tiramisu – which I hesitantly tried because I’m not the biggest coffee fan. I needn’t have worried, it was creamy, chocolatey and rich. Definitely a winner.
And my semifreddo was sweet and so satisfying thanks to the addition of that salted caramel. While maybe this element has passed it’s hey day, I think it definitely has a place in balancing desserts that have the potential to be too sweet. This was a great way to finish our meal at Bistro Bellavista and left a wonderful taste in my mouth.
These days I don’t make it to as many events or new venues as I used to. I’m time poor, like to prioritise catching up with friends and family, and work is crazy. So when I go to something like this that is so impressive, it really opens my eyes that I do need to venture out to different venues. Given my mum is a pasta fiend, I already have plans to head back to put my money where my mouth is. I’m really looking forward to it!