1. Lulu La Delizia.
Anchovy doughnuts. Bread and butter plus a tiny saucer of rich vegetable sugo. Braised kid goat. Meek flavours have no place at this intimate trattoria zeroing in on the robust food of Italy's north. In the hands of a lesser chef, this brief might translate to overwhelming dishes that rely on shock and awe, but Joel Valvasori-Pereza's cooking hits those sweet spots for flavour, satisfaction and balance. Raw kingfish with lemon thyme, ginger and a colatura and orange juice vinaigrette is dazzling, as are dainty rafts of raw beef with smoked bone-marrow fat. Skipping the pasta would be unthinkable. From veal and pork ragù tagliatelle to thick bigoli in a sweet onion salsa, Lulu La Delizia remains Perth's high-water mark for pasta. Don't hesitate to quiz sommelier Alex Rogers for advice: his Italian and local selections transform any visit into a celebration.
5/97 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco, lululadelizia.com.au
If produce – to borrow a Neil Perry-ism – is the cornerstone of good cooking, then consistency is the key to Rockpool's popularity out west. Despite a change of ownership, it's business as usual in this gilded, special occasion-ready room in casino heartland. Staff are as warm of patter and sharp of style as ever, the cellar's breadth remains unmatched in its audacity, and the kitchen's vast repertoire of grill and steakhouse standards seeks to comfort rather than challenge diners. Beef, unsurprisingly, is a focal point (dry-aged in-house and grilled over wood) but the sizzle extends beyond the steak. Buttery charcoal-roasted King George whiting is typical of the care afforded seafood; mushy peas, potato gratin and the rest of the sides are draws in themselves while reliable desserts – towering pavlova perhaps, or lush crème caramel – are a rousing endorsement for the classics.
Crown Perth, Great Eastern Hwy, Burswood rockpool.com
It's a joy to watch folks eating, drinking and laughing among towering corn stalks and taro-leaf parasols – doubly so when this merriment unfolds on an inner-city backstreet. Bread in Common was one of the catalysts driving the rebirth of Fremantle's west end and this mess hall-style eatery remains a local favourite. The kerbside garden and dining area hints at the earthy cooking that awaits. There's a summery offering of zucchini presented three ways (char-grilled, salt-andpepper fried, shredded and sautéed), or tender local squid and laksa leaf, lolling in fermented corn stock. Mopping up those juices is the perfect excuse for ordering more bread; the house-cured smallgoods and suite of condiments provide further reasons. Share chocolate cake and burnt toast ice-cream, quiz switched-on staff for another glass from the user-friendly drinks list and start plotting your return.
43 Pakenham St, Fremantle, breadincommon.com.au
A sleek dining room. Sweet panoramas of the city. Dapper staff that threaten to outshine an equally glam clientele. This rooftop fine-diner crowning Perth's majestic Como The Treasury puts the special into any occasion (as does precision-cooked local lamb and dry-aged Wagin duck). But while the details – and prices – speak to fine-dining aspiration, parts of the picture could do with fine-tuning. The kitchen is as high-powered as any; if only the plates were as tightly edited as the menu. Toffee-like pieces of fried seaweed are a fiddly addition to an otherwise faultless abalone schnitzel, just as tender black salsify is let down by an odd kind-of grain risotto. But then, bang! An engaged waiter appears, picks wisely from the mighty cellar, then directs you to the brilliance of passionfruit mousse with mango sorbet and Geraldton wax sherbet and there's nowhere else in Perth you'd rather be.
1 Cathedral Ave, Perth, wildflowerperth.com
5. Co-op dining
Much-improved service brightens Co-op's dark and grey dining room underneath an inner-city apartment block in a back street. But while the surroundings are dull, the imaginative, artfully plated food is anything but. Co-op's source-small, think-big style frequently yields some of Perth's most original dishes. Cured Spanish mackerel plus slices of fennel, grapefruit and ricotta is a fresh take on the sashimi-crudo model and indicative of a tendency for unexpected combinations. Buckwheat congee ferries roasted shiitake mushrooms while carrot custard spiced with star-anise is played off against caramelised white chocolate. Although à la carte dining is now available from Tuesday to Friday, the five- and nine-course dégustations remain the best way to dine: doubly so if you opt for matched wines celebrating WA's most promising up-and-comers.
2/11 Regal Pl, East Perth, co-opdining.com.au
Propeller's tasting menus are some of the west's best eating deals, serving as an introduction to the uncompromising Levantine cooking of Greg Malouf protégé, Kurt Sampson. But what if you didn't get those unmissable grilled courgettes with shavings of mojama and smoked almonds? The combination of barbecued prawn, kipfler potato, hard-boiled egg and red-chilli zhoug is equally notable, as are Lebanese doughnuts with pistachio ice-cream. Fresh fatayers and manoushes, meanwhile, are excellent solo dining options. Don't let the menu's unfamiliar terms deter you: the staff are as apt at decoding dishes as they are offering insights into the cosmopolitan cocktail and wine lists. And while you may catch glimpses of the kitchen, much of the action unfolds in the towering annexe: an add-on that suggests this North Freo powerhouse is here for both a good and a long time.
222 Queen Victoria St, North Fremantle, propellernorthfreo.com.au
7. Long Chim.
Birthday lunch with extended family? Celebrating a big win with the team? Girls' night out? Long Chim can handle all that and more. David Thompson's temple of Thai street food teams laid-back canteen décor with attentive staff and fun tunes, while the menu strikes a balance between comfort and uncharted waters. Addictively spicy Chiang Mai sausage sits alongside an array of curries (the mashed prawn is memorable) with classic desserts such as mango with sticky rice also in the mix. Let staff steer you off the well-trod path, though, and you could be rewarded with betel leaves bearing a lively blend of peanut, ginger, coconut and dried prawn. Or take a chance on Thai coffee ice-cream, corn kernels and coconut, served sundae-style. The cocktails shouldn't be missed and the wine list features Western Australian stalwarts and up-and-comers to keep everyone happy.
Basement, State Buildings, cnr Barrack St & St Georges Tce, Perth longchimperth.com
This relaxed, family-owned restaurant remains one of the feel-good – not to mention taste-good – stories of Perth's dining scene. Like the room's uncluttered stone and timber aesthetic, plates are presented with zero fuss and are all the better for it. The woodburning oven features prominently, from glorious baked-to-order flatbread to just-roasted local honey bugs crowned with romesco sauce and ribbons of pickled fennel (the bugs' legs, roasted and dusted with a fiery togarashi, appear earlier in the night as a crunchy, clever snack). Young zucchini – split, gently charred and enlivened with sesame and mint – are typical of the respect accorded to vegetables and vegetarians while an all-WA drinks list underlines a parochial bent. The waitstaff match Manuka's brand of homely comfort; as does a chocolate mousse with roasted plums.
134 High St, Fremantle, manukawoodfire.com.au
9. Red Cabbage.
Surprise is the name of Red Cabbage's game, starting with its location beneath an office block next to a freeway. Although the room's sweeping curves suggest a turn-of-the-millennium build date, Scott O'Sullivan's food is right in step with the zeitgeist. Native ingredients feature prominently: interleaved slices of raw kangaroo and beetroot make for a playful carpaccio, while juicy local duck breast is partnered with an Illawarra plum purée. Despite a growing interest in edible Australiana, some things are unchanged. Japan remains a key influence – those nori-dusted crackers crowning sweet scallops, for instance – while the white chocolate, pear sorbet and Cashel Blue "cheese course" enjoys permanent status. The parochial wine list is small but does the job with style, as does the floor team – ideal ambassadors for the restaurant's brand of casual-cool.
49/15 Labouchere Rd, South Perth, redcabbagefoodandwine.com.au
With the sea sparkling through tall windows and groups at long wooden tables chatting over Spritzes and pasta, the scene is textbook Mediterranean, with much of the cooking following suit. Plates of salmon carpaccio are lifted by chilli, capers and shallot, and ravioli are made plump with mascarpone, kale and stracciatella. Then there's the swordfish, expertly grilled and paired with lightly braised tomato, cannellini beans and kale. It's not all smooth sailing, though. Hit-and-miss seasoning and busy desserts that feel out of place ruin the illusion, as does service that feels more "beachside diner" than serious restaurant. Seek consolation in the wine list, an exhaustive survey of Italy and Australia's brightest, from Mount Etna reds to Frankland River whites, plus two pages devoted to Barolo. Order a bottle, sit back and let the afternoon roll at its own pace.
88 Marine Pde, Cottesloe, illido.com.au
See all the winners of our 2019 Restaurant Guide Awards.