It never ceases to amaze me how thrilled I can get about a plate of food, even before I've actually tasted what's before me. The popular Masterchef-y phrase "you eat with your eyes", definitely rings true when I see a vibrant pool of gnocchi that's smothered in the most sumptuous, bright red tomato sauce. I love it when I can see the oils of the tomato skim the surface of my plate - it fills me with so much anticipation because I know that what I'm about to eat has been roasted slow to the upmost perfection in order to release the tomato's optimal flavour.
My memories of pasta in Italy instantly began to replay as I was sitting amongst the weekend bustle of Il Lido and overlooking the crystal clear Cottesloe Beach. I love how by simply having lunch in a restaurant in Perth, I can feel like I've almost travelled to the motherland of Italian cuisine - this is definitely my kind of "staycation"!
I wasn't overly fond of fresh tomatoes as a child - and I only knew just how much I'd been missing after arriving in Florence, Italy and popping into a casual cafe for lunch. After the most delectable rabbit pasta, my opinion of tomato based sauces had thus changed forever. It's moments like this that can really make you feel "at home", no matter where you are in the world - discovering food can not only induce a change of opinions, but also instil a deep sense of curiosity to learn and experience so much more about the culture and stories behind every taste you experience.
Tip: Arrive earlier than your friends - I decided to chance having to wait for a table and go for a stroll down Marine Parade before lunch (also a viable post lunch activity). The colours of the sea never cease to amaze me, I am indeed one of those people who could just stand by the beach and stare into the waves. It's real and it's soothing - I can't think of a better location to not only do a bit of seaside exploring but also to wander on down the line and quell your midday hunger. A sunny and breezy day cries out for an ice cold, refreshing Ginger Beer; this was my first time trying Fever Tree - I love how the sweetness is kept subtle and the real soda hero remains to be the ginger. It was exactly what I was looking for on a morning like this.
I've lamented on about how Justin Peters' restaurants seem to have a common level of impressiveness when it comes to Iced Tea - whilst Duende's shaken Earl Grey Lemon Iced Tea still reigns supreme, this Summer thirst quencher is very well represented at il lido. The grapefruit fan amongst us was impressed - freshly squeezed juice is always appreciated on any brunch time.
Binging on oysters is poor for the pockets, but I think your body will more or less thank you for it! Recently I've allowed myself to start indulging in restaurant oysters more - to be honest, I'm more of a fish market enthusiast. I really love making a beeline for the freshest dozen and taking a delightful slurp out of the shell, right there and then. For me, oysters don't need to be topped with caviar or served with champagne to be great...all that's required are the words "freshly shucked" and a couple of wedges of juicy lemons.
This was a pristine example of why the occasional restaurant indulgence is completely justifiable - the oyster was chilled and tasted impeccably clean on the palette. The salty brine and the subtle sorbet fell in sync, making the entire mouthful slip down my throat in one tasty swoop.
As far as favourite cuts of pasta goes - pappardelle will always be the one that makes my heart skip. The unexpected pairing of duck and radicchio is perfect for highlighting how impeccable the pasta is. All the components on the plate are cooked so tenderly, that it's the "bite" in the pasta's texture that leaves the longest lasting impression. I loved the complexity of the sauce, which harboured both the sweetness of the duck and the subtle hints of orange to precision.
Dishes like this make me want to loudly rejoice, but sitting in a restaurant full of patrons means that I instead resort to smiling so wide that my cheekbones may just touch my ears. The parmigiano has been purposefully melted into the molten, cheesy goodness that should grace any good traditional pasta dish. It's simple really - tomatoes, basil and cheese...but when restaurants retain the integrity of the ingredients like this, it becomes a really special dish. Like the pappardelle, the gnocchi was expertly made - soft, full bodied and the perfect accompaniment to the rich tomato sauce.
A side of potato anything for $10 is right on the line of being an overpriced dish - despite this, I can definitely appreciate when chips are done in house and they were every bit as crisp and moreish as you'd hope for.
I do think that a majority of the menu is priced on the higher end of the spectrum, but I'd happily pay around $25-$30 for such impeccable pasta. The antipasti selection are all priced $20 and below, whilst the light meals are set between $22-$26 and going up to $42 for main meal. Great service and beautiful location have been factored into the pricing and I think that it's a good place to treat yourself in.
I love restaurants like il lido and I'm glad to discover more and more contemporary dining spaces that offer sophisticated, well thought out food that champions beautiful ingredients, whilst also offering their customers a casual and relaxed atmosphere. It's a delicate balance and one that Perth's really taken on well in recent years - il lido is not only the place for fabulous beachside dining, but also home to one of the best and most authentic pastas in Perth.
Everyday from 7:30AM - Late