Social media is a fabulous thing for alerting food fanatics to fabulous new local places that they just must visit. I’d consider myself somewhat of a food fanatic and lately as I’ve perused Facebook and Instagram a name that I kept seeing was Cecchi’s. “Where is this Cecchi’s?” I had wondered. So a quick google told me it was actually in Inglewood, which is delightfully close to home! I had been meaning to catch up with my very good friend Mrs M for a while now and so looked to tick two boxes and asked if her and Mr M were keen to head to dinner at Cecchi’s the following week. She’d heard good reports too so we locked in a Tuesday evening and patiently (well enforced patience because I can’t move time) waited for the evening to roll around.
As I would discover Cecchi’s opened late last year in the former home of Da Brunos, which I never visited but from all accounts was quite the institution in Perth. In keeping with its previous owners it offers Italian cuisine. It is a little gem hidden along the Inglewood end of Beaufort Street, not too far from the Civic Hotel and easy to drive straight past if you aren’t carefully looking for their signage.
It’s a really quaint place, like walking into someone’s house. They had some seating set up in the courtyard out the front and when you walk inside it has a very welcoming feel. Beautiful wooden floorboards and a bit of a maze of rooms with chairs and tables. It all worked though and while we had initially been sat near the bar on a table for 6 we decided we’d wander into another section to a table for our group of 4. It overlooked the courtyard which was quite nice and with the door open, there was a lovely breeze.
They do offer BYO for $8 a bottle and we had brought along a white and a red. An ice bucket was swiftly brought to the table for the Riesling, water glasses were filled and menus presented. To say I was feeling peckish would be a mild understatement. I may go so far as to say I was famished! So as I looked through the menu I was convinced I wanted one of everything. Common sense prevailed though and we decided to order a few entrees to share and then a main.
So for entrees we ordered:
Sugo eggplant and ricotta ($9)
Grappa cured salmon, grapefruit, pomegranate, zucchini, watercress ($18)
Ahead of our entrees appearing we were offered a very tasty plate of amuse bouches – crispy slices of baguette with duck parfait and an interesting mix of garlic and something like scrambled egg. I’m not always a big parfait fan but the flavour of these little morsels was quite delicate and was well paired with the interesting egg and garlic combination. It definitely ensured our taste buds were kick started into action and eager for the entrees!
They didn’t take too long to appear and the three largish plates were carefully arranged on our table. Everything presented beautifully! And the aroma – mamma mia, where’s my fork! :)
I started with the squid. Four dainty pieces of squid tube stuffed with pork mince, carefully drizzled with the dramatic black squid sauce and a splash of olive oil. Not to forget the few microherbs for colour. A mere mouthful, but with perfectly soft squid, there was an abundance of flavour in that bite. It was delicious and I felt excited to taste the other dishes that were on the way.
The eggplant was an artistic arrangement with it’s bright red pool of sugo (a tasty tomato sauce) along with four pieces of crumbed eggplant cylinders. They tasted delicious! I loved the crispy outer coating and whatever herbs and spices they used to give the aubergine such a rich flavour. That along with the sugo, made the dish really delicious. My favourite of the three, though it was a very tough decision.
The final dish I savoured was the very pretty cured salmon. Grappa, while powerful to drink, was wonderfully delicate with the thin slivers of salmon. It was quite a rainbow of colour on the plate with the bright pomegranate rubies, the fresh, orange wedges of the grapefruit, the ribbons of zucchini and the decorative greenery of the watercress. The flavours were all light but it was a pleasing combination – sweetness, a little tartness from the grapefruit and the pleasing melt in your mouth salmon.
On the mains front, Mr M ordered the Beetroot gnocchi, confit lamb, goats cheese, pesto ($35) which was a bold dark beetroot shade of pink. With the contrasting stark white from the goats cheese it plated beautifully. I had been very, very tempted to get this dish as I am a long time gnocchi fan. I remembered there was always a next time.
Myself and Mrs M, like minds I suppose ordered the Pappardelle, fresh sausage, pinenuts, zucchini, evoo ($35). Freshly made pappardelle with a combination of ingredients that were wonderfully simple but combined in perfect harmony. The fragrant mince, the crunchy and ever indulgent pine nuts and the welcome vegie lightness from the zucchini. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole dish. I found it a lot more filling than I had expected. There’s a surprising richness to fresh pasta. A bowl always looks so manageable when it first appears, but as you swirl your fork into those carefully crafted lengthy pasta pieces you soon find yourself feeling fairly full. I finished every last bite though! I had initially thought $35 was somewhat of a high price tag for pasta, but it was freshly made, the fresh sausage packed so much flavour and there was just an elegant simplicity to it. Very happy with my selection.
Now across the table, GG was convinced he had won the battle of the mains. He ordered the Sirloin, smoked corn, beetroot, enoki mushroom, croquet ($38). Now it did look amazing, a great arrangement and I’ll be the first to admit that from the bite I was fortunate enough to try that it was tasty. There was a rich smoky flavor to the pureed corn and the steak was so perfectly cooked. I also loved the crunchy croquet. Did he win? Hmmm….. I’m going to say it was a very close and delicious draw :)
Now was there room for dessert. I hadn’t been sure there was after all that indulgent pasta but as soon as I heard the word donut I knew I was having dessert. Ricotta donuts, parfait, chocolate ganache. Both Mrs M and I ordered this with the boys declining but I tell you as soon as those delicious donut balls arrived there was no holds barred. The lads were all over them! Luxuriously slathered in the rich chocolate ganache, the warm cinnamon goodness of those donuts along with the contrasting chill from the frozen parfait made an incredible dessert. The chocolate sauce really enhanced the richness factor and while I might have initially whinged at having to share I was eventually grateful. A perfect dessert for sharing and you’ll still come away with a more than decent sugar high.
It’s so easy to say places are hidden gems but Cecchi’s is so discretely positioned along Beaufort St that it really is one of those gems. I really enjoyed my first visit. Honest, friendly service with really excellent food, I am sure I will head back soon. So say hello to Cecchi’s – great new spot! :)