Il Bellissimo

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DSC_005724 Bay View Terrace, Claremont
Ph: (08) 9385 5282

New Venue, same heart.

Albasio La Pegna has been a well-known culinary maestro around Perth for over two decades. He is originally from Naples in the south of Italy, but has been living in Perth for most of his life, and has owned restaurants in Claremont, Subiaco and Crawley. He has won Gold Plate Awards three years in a row, meaning he is one of the very few restaurateurs eligible for the Prix D’Honneur. When Bellissimofirst opened on Bayview Terrace in Claremont 23 years ago, even he didn’t realise the impact it would have on his life.
Bellissimo grew and adapted over the years, and the City of Claremont grew with it. In the middle of 2015, Albasio moved Bellissimo to a more spacious venue, but decided to stay on Bayview Terrace so the large community of loyal regulars could keep coming back. Bayview Terrace is a great little shopping district and there are loads of free three hour parking spots across the road in the shopping centre.
Six months later and the venue is looking great. As you walk in, you pass a large wood fired oven filling the air with that wonderful scent of wood fired pizza. The décor has a stripped back modern design, with an elegant use of marble and wood, mellow jazz and swing music playing in the background, an open design kitchen, and a doorway that spills out onto Bayview Terrace, which I’ve been told is the place to go for designer shopping.
SalmonH copyPerusing the menu, it’s clear that these guys mean business with an impressive spread of traditional Neapolitan cuisine. The starters are around the $15-$20 mark and range from very traditional dishes (arancini, polenta chips and the antipasto plate), to more adventurous dishes (cured salmon with fennel, grapefruit and balsamic vinegar). We tried the salmon, and it was a colourful dish, with beautiful strong flavours. We also tried the polenta chips, which came with a gorgonzola sauce and made a delicious starter to our meal.
The main reason for Bellissimo’s popularity is their pasta and pizza dishes, all of which are made from scratch in-house. For pasta, we decided to try the Orecchiette, which is a dish made up of beef, peas, cream and pecorino cheese, and is one of Albasio’s signature dishes. The flavours and textures were simple and yet combined perfectly, to create an incredibly more-ish dish that wasn’t too rich.
Pizza copyFor pizza, we tried the Rhonda, named after its inventor and one of the regular customers at Bellissimo. The base was outstanding, and when I asked Albasio about it, he said that the flour and the oil had to be imported from Naples as the flour is much finer than anything he was able to get here, and while Australian olive oil is amazing and has a clean fresh taste, he felt the richer aged flavour of the Italian oil was necessary to bring out the flavour in the bread that he wanted. The pizza was topped with tomato, bocconcini, rocket, shaved parmesan and sliced prosciutto, which is more than you’d expect on a traditional Italian pizza, but as someone accustomed to the Australian take on pizzas, that certainly isn’t a criticism. The flavours worked well together, to make a tasty dish.
We also tried the traditional calzone, which was both very tasty and structurally superior to most calzones I’ve come across. It was neither too bready, nor did hot liquid explode out of it as soon as my knife pierced the bread. I’m not generally a big fan of calzone, but I’d certainly order this one again. It went well with the 2010 Rosso Di Montalcino Il Poggione.
Risotto copyAnother dish I’d like to mention is the visually impressive risotto. The black ink risotto, topped with sautéed selection of seafood was a surprisingly colourful dish, whose soft flavours were well balanced and very tasty. We found it matched very well with the 2014 Mills Reef Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand.
Through all of the dishes we tried when we visited Bellissimo, I got a sense of Albasio’s passion for food as well as his desire to provide a dignified, yet welcoming environment for his customers, whether they are shoppers who want to take a break and enjoy a bite to eat, or people going out to celebrate a birthday or work function, as well as couples and families enjoying a quiet meal. If he isn’t helping out in the kitchen, he’s on the floor welcoming guests and serving the people who share his love of good food.
The traditional mains cost around $35-$45, pizzas and pastas are between $25-35, and sides are around $15. Bellissimo also has an impressive wine selection, so be sure to check that out if you get a chance. They open at 11am and generally close around 10pm.
While Albasio was sad to close the old place down, and said that moving Bellissimo to the new location was one of the biggest decisions of his life, he has been deeply moved by the response of the community and the support they have shown. He wanted to thank all of the people (they know who they are) who have stuck by them throughout the move, and he is excited for this new chapter in his, and Bellissimo’s life.
By Floyd Holmes

Bellissimo has been featured in the Masters of Menu Recipe Book – for more information please click here.

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