One big draw: A legendary Italian restaurant where Gaga, Beyonce and Bono have dined
Photos: Pamela Chow & Courtesy of Sage West Perth
The next time you find yourself on the western side of Australia, take a couple of days to experience the city of Perth. It may be compact, but Perth has many treasures to uncover – including a heritage Italian diner where many stars previously visited.
Opened earlier this year, the Sage West Perth Hotel is a no-frills and modern property set on Hay Street, Perth’s longest street that stretches from west Perth all the way to the central city. It is owned by Singapore-based hotel group SilverNeedle.
Getting here and back is easy: Simply hop on a CAT (Central Asia Transit) Bus, which runs free-of-charge during office hours, or take a leisurely stroll that can be especially relaxing when the weather is cool.
Accompanying the hotel is Julio’s, which has hosted legendary entertainers such as Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Jay Z and Bono of U2. In 2008, it won the prestigious Golden Plate Award for fine dining.
The building that houses Julio’s dates as far back as 1903, and the restaurant started up some 20 years ago. Walk up to Sage West Perth and you may be surprised by its stark contrast: A modern, lanky and sprightly building stretches out from behind the traditional black-and-white home of Julio’s.
Such mixed-use space is a common sight along this stretch of Hay Street, where many creative collectives have found refuge in stately old wooden homes from another era.
Restaurant of the stars
Step into Julio’s and this surreal time warp will envelope you. The restaurant was refurbished but much of its original structure and furnishings have been kept in place, retaining the homely and warm atmosphere of traditional Italian hospitality.
Everything on the menu is made from fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Most impressively, the pasta is made by hand in the kitchen between closing and opening hours while the rest of the city sleeps. If Julio’s ever runs out of pasta, we asked, would the cooks really make more on the spot? Yes, they will.
It’s a pity that means they won’t be selling packets to go, because the pasta is truly divine. I am personally not a fan of starchy dishes, but when I was highly recommended the Hand-rolled Potato Gnocchi, I had to give it a shot. It certainly earned its spot at the top: The chewy potato-stuffed pasta soaked up the creamy gorgonzola cheese, yet it was pleasantly light and easy on the stomach.
The Wild Boar Pappardelle was also a hot favourite at our table – not just for its novelty factor, but also for its tender texture and succulent flavours that kept us diving back for more. At the end of the meal, the Papperdelle plates had been picked clean.
But it was important for us to make room for the other highlight: Arancini. Our host explained that this unassuming appetiser has kept many customers and travellers coming back, driven by their cravings for this dish.
Five baked Arancini balls arrived in a pan, each covered in a thin breaded crust concealing the goodness within: A sticky and gooey mash of mushrooms and spinach. Topped off with a generous sprinkle of feta, white truffle and parmesan shavings, this dish has undoubtedly left me among the ranks of travellers who will come crawling all the way back to Perth for more.
Hotel stay promotion
The Sage West Perth is celebrating its opening with a Sagacation package, which includes welcome drinks, breakfast, one course at Julio’s, a mobile wireless access device and a welcome gift of Western Australia’s local products. This package is priced at $215 per night for two people (minimum two-night stay). One child under 12 stays for free with an accompanying adult and can enjoy free breakfast and one-course dining at Julio’s.
More information at sg.sagewestperth.com.
Sage West Perth, 1309 Hay St, West Perth WA 6005, Australia.