Gioia on the River

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74/20 Royal Street, East Perth
Ph: 0481 398 691

Can I tell you a secret?

Understated and encapsulating its enviable waterside location, Gioia On The River is a bit like stumbling across a secret only the locals know about. Tucked away on East Perth’s Claisebrook Cove, Gioia (meaning joy) boasts some of Perth’s finest Mediterranean cuisine.

I can back up this bold statement by sharing with you that Gioia has a secret menu of Western Australia’s most elusive produce. While Jerry Fraser is regularly sighted shucking fresh oysters on Fridays, you won’t find Donnybrook marron freshly plucked from the dam or the scampi on the main menu; nor the Margaret River venison, wagyu, Morton Bay bugs or the lamb that once grazed on beetroot. These delicacies among many others are only available while in season and guaranteed to be of the finest quality on that day.

It’s a sparkling spring day when we visit. The river glistens in all her glory and the curvaceous Matagarup Bridge snakes along the horizon but soon fades into the background once the Jumbo Scampi appear.

Scampi belong to the lobster family and having just been flown in from New Zealand (and sometimes from Exmouth), this dish is the ultimate taste of the sea. The sweet and supple flesh is laced with a hint of saltiness and the scampi’s firm flesh borders on al dente. Reclining on a bed of French fries soaking up all that goodness, this showstopper is accompanied by the 2016 Woody Nook Chardonnay and is so perfectly matched, it would be easy to imagine the scampi were only recently bathing in chardonnay.

The Spaghetti Marinara emerges in a tangle of squid, mussels, prawns, clams and lobster. Depending on what seafood is available on the day, the housemade sauce works as a succulent conduit between the spaghetti and seafood. Although designed as a stand alone dish, the serving is generous enough to be shared à la Lady and the Tramp style, particularly while dining beneath a star-studded sky in Gioia’s alfresco riverside area.

Gioia’s serving sizes are substantial especially the Fiorentina, consisting of a 1.2kg grilled T-bone. Inspired by Tuscany, the Fiorentina is tender and lightly seasoned to allow its earthiness to shine through. Served with a selection of sauces, this dish caters well to a range of preferences including rare, medium rare or medium depending on which section of the T-bone you select. Designed to be shared, this dish was savoured over a glass of 2018 Devil’s Corner Resolution Pinot Noir bursting with cherry.

Given the generosity of the ingredients already served, it wasn’t that surprising when Gioia’s Giant Profiterole arrived. Served with Italian gelato and strawberries, grapes and blood orange, the pastry was almost feather-like making this dish a tangy and light finale to our feast.

This intimate enclave boasts an undisclosed wine list and there is also allocated parking to those in the know. Situated by the water, Gioia is often associated with seafood – and rightly so given the outstanding seafood we sampled. Others consider it predominantly Italian, which is also fair given the menu is prepared by chef Francesco Micillo and the proprietor Andrea De Luca reigns from Abruzzo. But Andrea shrugs off labels and shares, “We’re a family-run restaurant focusing on WA produce.”

With a kitchen that opens from 11.30am until late, diners languish all day and night as dolphins frolic by. Despite its laidback vibe, it would be easy to imagine Gioia has been the setting for many a special occasion, wedding or romantic rendezvous.

By Carmen Jenner


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