Roma Cucina

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9 High Street, FremantleDSC_0282
Phone: (08) 9335 7662
Home starts at the front door of Roma Cucina at 9 High Street in Fremantle’s historic West End. Opened in 1954, my own parents dined there after migrating from Sicily in the late 1960s. So too did Bob Hawke, Alan Bond and David Bowie. Now I know why.
Mounted images of families, famous friends, and calendars of special moments in time set the scene in this Freo institution whose head chef Terry Dunn and staff deliver plates of pasta and steaming sauce, fresh herbs and chilli, grilled seafood tossed in olive oil, garlic and wine. Italy!
DSC_0290Having joined Roma Restaurant in 1978 when he was 16, Terry’s mother also worked as a waitress for the restaurant’s founder Frank Abrugiato, who passed away in 2000, aged 76.
“It was a completely different world then. Today we offer traditional Italian food with a twist,” Terry says as wife Luciana (‘Lucy’) explains why generations of diners have kept coming back to bella Roma her father built from scratch.
Fully licenced, familiar food and friendly service top the list. A self-confessed seafood fan, Lucy starts off our culinary adventure with a prawn and crab linguine tossed in oil, garlic and tomatoes topped off with a glass of 2016 Leeuwin Margaret River Riesling (Margaret River, WA).
Our second dish (and  Roma Cucina’s signature dish) – roast chicken and spaghetti – is delicious and well-seasoned with perfectly cooked meat falling off the bone, garlic slices and parsley, matched perfectly with the Italian Montepulciano d’Abruzzo red wine.
As former Freo mayor Peter Tagliaferri once said: “Frank and Nella’s recipe for success was simple; good food matched with good service, and making guests feel at home in a house of good cooking.”
Frank’s daughter announces the next main, scallopini with mushroom, chips and a side of fresh salad is a cracking follow-up, with the pepper elevating the dish and set off by another glass of the riesling. Though the chips are hot and crunchy, mash potato or even pumpkin would have gone down well with the creamy mushroom sauce.
Lucy finishes our journey with a seafood platter, even though she had me hooked at the prawn starter. Perfectly cooked and seasoned fish DSC_0291fillets, mussels, scallops, prawns and scored squid prove a sumptuous finish to a great meal, the menu worth exploring between wine sips.
Terry and Lucy are sticklers for table service, with staff replacing cutlery between meals, warm plates served before each meal, and offering recommendations for the best local and Italian wines to match. A pinch of local history of this iconic venue also is added. Just a few examples of the attention to detail at this West End family gem.
The menu also caters for children who, between serves, can get creative with crayons and paper, dance to Italian music or explore the back pergola area draped in grapes and night lights.
By Carmelo Amalfi
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