“Le vegnut special, fat con le mans.” Or for those that aren’t fluent in Friulian, the language spoken in the north-eastern Italian region of Friuli: “Things are made extra special when they are made by hand.” It’s a sentiment that Joel Valvasori-Pereza’s grandmother Luigia instilled in her grandson and an utterly fitting first sentence for the menu at Lulu La Delizia, his new Subiaco trattoria.
Since Valvasori-Pereza announced he was opening his own place, interest has been high among Perth eaters, particularly those familiar with the pasta he served at Lalla Rookh. Handmade, deeply seasoned and a reflection of the hearty, mountainous cuisine of his homeland, combinations such as smoked eel tagliolini and ricotta gnocchi with blue swimmer crab ragu helped cement Valvasori-Pereza as one of Perth’s most gifted Italian cooks.
With the opening of Lulu La Delizia, he’s looking forward to taking his pasta-making to the next level and introducing guests to the diversity and deliciousness of flour and water.
“It’s about having that understanding and respect for the individual crafts and techniques that go into making good pasta,” he says. “It’s not and can’t just be one dough for all machines and all ideas. You need doughs with different strengths and consistencies to go with different machines and hand-making techniques. It’s about finding those balances and knowing those little nuances and how to manipulate recipes.”
Although non-pasta items are part of the kitchen’s repertoire – yes, that famed braised bone-marrow dish is present and accounted for – pasta beats at the heart of Lulu La Delizia, and not just on the menu. With the exception of one table for large groups, six is the maximum party-size that can be accommodated, primarily because the kitchen is only big enough to prepare six serves of pasta at one time. (The restaurant is able to cater to a single group larger than six, but the party needs to opt for the set menu). While a pasta special will be offered each day, it’s the menu’s “starting five” pasta dishes that will do most of the heavy lifting. Here’s a wrap of what to expect and why Subiaco looks set to be the new happy place for Perth pasta lovers.
Tagliatelle della delizia
Based on a family recipe, this one-two of thick noodles in a veal and pork ragu has strong ties to Valvasori-Pereza’s childhood. “With recipes like this, you can’t instil those mental notes that you have as someone that’s grown up with a dish,” he says. “You know how something’s meant to taste, feel and smell. And if you haven’t grown up with that, it’s very hard to pass that onto someone.”
Spaghetti, vongolae, garlic, chilli
Pasta and seafood is a tried-and-tested pairing, but Valvasori-Pereza hopes it’s the little things –house-made pasta and good seafood, in particular – that will lift his version of spaghetti and clams. “Clams are delicious,” says Valvasori-Pereza. “They just make such a beautiful sauce. For such a small bit of what people used to refer to as bait, they pack a punch in terms of flavour. You try to make the same sauce with mussels or pippies, it’s not as good.”
Chestnut ‘cjalsons’, sage and sultana burro cotto, smoked ricotta
The starting menu’s sole vegetarian pasta option, although we suspect the dish’s appeal will extend beyond just herbivores. Originating in the Friulian region of Carnia and traditionally served over the festive season, cjalsons are half-moon pasta shapes filled with a sweet-savoury filling of ricotta, hard cheese, macerated sultanas, herbs and citrus zest. Valvasori-Pereza flips the script by replacing half of the regular flour with nuttier chestnut flour, then serves the parcels with a sauce of browned butter, sage and sultanas. “The sauce itself is savoury-sweet and then we top it with smoked ricotta,” he says. “The dish is about warm, comforting flavours.”
Smoked garganelli, pork salsiccia, broccoli, chilli
Garganelli are small squares of egg-based dough, hand-rolled over a length of dowel and a gnocchi board to create tubes of pasta with tiny grooves. It’s one of the more labour-intensive pasta shapes to make, and that’s before you factor in the flour’s hot-smoking treatment. The result – a heady, deeply smoky pasta served with a rubble of broccoli and fennel-spiked sausage – suggests it’s time well spent. “With this sort of tubular pasta, it requires a sauce with small components that can be caught in the tube. The sauce is my own creation. I thought it’d taste good. It did.”
Squid ink bigoli in salsa, smoked fish crumb
“It’s a proper sore-arm, full body workout,” he says of the brass, hand-powered equipment used to make his bigoli – fat, jet-black worms of spaghetti. “It’s a very north-eastern Italian thing. It’s my little twist on what is a traditional way of serving bigoli that’s called in salsa. The sauce is an anchovy and onion-based sauce. Smoked fish crumb goes on top. It’s kind of like chicken booster, but made with fish.”
Lulu La Delizia
Shop 5/97 Rokeby Rd (Forrest Walk), Subiaco
(08) 9381 2466