Mirko Silvestri’s lifelong career in hospitality started at his parents’ restaurant in Rome. At university, he discovered a love of coffee and trained in all aspects of speciality coffee, from roasting to brewing. After working in Melbourne as a coffee-roasting consultant, he moved back to Perth to open Lupolab.
“I wanted to do something different – a cafe-restaurant where we could show people what we do in the kitchen,” says Silvestri. “Total transparency: that’s why you can see straight into the kitchen and the lab where we roast the coffee.”
While comparisons between Perth and Melbourne can be met with outrage, there’s no denying that Lupolab is very Melbourne. The fit-out screams quality and attention to detail, from the glass-enclosed kitchen to the furniture. There’s not a Kmart metal stool in sight.
“Our goal is to keep pushing the quality and consistency of our coffee and food, and to share our experiences from Rome and Melbourne,” says Silvestri. “I really want to bring a Melbourne feeling. It’s got a nice community culture and vibe. It’s funky and alternative.”
Lupolab’s food is based around Silvestri’s family’s recipes, with a “little bit of a modern touch” added. Breakfast dishes are mostly familiar - think avocado and toast and scrambled eggs but the “Roman-style” beans and creamy polenta with mushrooms are an exception. Superb fresh pasta is the focus at lunch, with dishes featuring simple sauces such as a beef ragu or guanciale (cured pork cheek) and pecorino. The dinner menu (Thursday to Saturday) gently ups the complexity of the pasta dishes while adding mains such as osso buco.
Lupolab’s coffee is roasted inside the restaurant. Its “Larentia” house blend is direct-trade and Silvestri regularly visits the plantations where his coffee is grown. He’s also passionate about supporting farmers and has funded community projects in El Salvador and Brazil. He also endeavours to obtain unique coffees at auction for Lupolab’s single origins.
Despite the refined nature of the offering, Silvestri is keen to stress that Lupolab isn’t fine dining. Pricing is more cafe than restaurant, service is friendly and families are welcome.
“We’re simply rustic, homemade and hand-crafted,” he says. “I want people to understand that we’re here to bring a new culture. Not because we want to lecture, we just want to show people our way.”
Tue & Wed 6.30am–4pm
Thu & Fri 6.30am–4pm, 5pm–10pm
Sat 7am–4pm, 5pm–10pm