What’s a “testun”? In Piedmont in northern Italy, it’s slang for a stubborn person as well as the name of a locally made cheese aged in pressed grape skins. For Perth eaters and drinkers, however, Testun is the name of the city’s newest Italian restaurant and bar and – if local hospitality grapevine activity is anything to go by – one of 2022’s most anticipated openings.

If you remember this corner of Beaufort Street and Third Ave when it was the cheery wine bar and cafe Trio, brace yourself for more colour this time around. As part of the space’s four-month makeover, the Trequattrini family – owners of Testun as well as nearby trattoria Threecoins – kept Trio’s exposed bricks and timber flooring, but turbocharged the room with bold splashes of paint and technicolour decorations. One wall is beautified with a Frida Kahlo bead curtain. The entrance to the kitchen is adorned with a noren (a traditional Japanese curtain) decorated with a giant slice of pizza. Lace is strewn throughout. It’s an aesthetic you might label as “remixed Italian”, which is also an apt way to describe the cooking.

Whereas Trio traded in bomboloni, pasta and comforting Italian flavours, the Testun kitchen team has an open-minded approach to “la cucina vera” that sees classics given subtle – and not-so-subtle – tweaks. So the panino is filled with porchetta, a pineapple and jalapeno salsa and ‘nduja mayonnaise; the pollo alla diavola is grilled over Japanese charcoal and served with the restaurant’s homage to buffalo sauce; the olives are marinated in absinthe and served warm. In short: these aren’t recipes you’re likely to find in The Silver Spoon.

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“It’s important that we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” says Chris Caravella, one of the co-head chefs in the kitchen. After receiving his introduction to cooking at his family’s beloved Fremantle Italian restaurant Capri, Caravella was last seen at Mount Hawthorn’s La Madonna Nera before joining the Trequattrinis. “We like to have fun and joke around, chat shit and kind of romanticise ideas and concepts. There’s a very nostalgic backbone to all of the items on the menu.”

Testun’s other head chef is Frank Trequattrini, an Umbrian native who also knows his way around a kitchen, not least when it comes to making salumi. The affettati (cured meats) platter shows off the kitchen’s handiwork and features everything from lamb pancetta to ciauscolo, Umbria’s famous spreadable pork salami comparable to a chilli-less ‘nduja. Like Caravella, he’s also a believer in channelling nostalgia in the kitchen, as are his family members. Frank’s wife Katia Taschetti will take on the role of restaurant manager while family patriarch Fabio Trequattrini will oversee Testun’s day-to-day. Pasta-maker Martina Ciotti will be splitting her time between the kitchen and front-of-house while Antonio di Senzo is in charge of the wine side of things.

Unsurprisingly, Italian and Australian wines form the crux of the cellar with producers in the minimal intervention space well-represented. In a nod to both retro Australian wine culture and a growing trend among new-wave winemakers to package wine in lightweight cardboard and silver-pillow casks, “fancy goon” is also offered, with glasses available for $10 and one-litre carafes priced at $50. A rigorous house-made spirit program featuring combinations such as cocoa nib-infused Campari and gin flavoured with cardamon and mandarin suggests the bar shares the kitchen’s renegade spirit.

Another neat detail is the Sunday afternoon sagra. In Italy, a sagra is a local food festival. At Testun, it will be something of an open invitation for locals to drop in and experience whatever is on offer. Maybe it’ll be a panino special, or perhaps a deep dive into regional salumi. While it’s clear management have big plans for the space, they’re also happy to let guests dictate what happens next.

“The people are going to set the tone and set the vibe,” says Caravella. “As long as we attract the right people, they’re the ones that are going to make Testun.”

12/760 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
(08) 9271 4089

Wed – Sat 4pm-late
Sun 12pm-9pm