As far as new dining arrivals of note go, the first half of 2023 has created a line-up that’s as diverse as it is delicious. Among our picks: a polished Greek newcomer in Subiaco that’s hit the ground running, tiny bakeries that reflect their owners’ personality and baking back stories, plus a handful of small, hole-in-the-wall addresses zeroing in on regional flavours with very pleasing results.
Here are the 10 debutants – plus one honourable mention – that have turned our heads so far this year.
Al Trancio Slabs of Pizza, Belmont
Homey Italian cooking is the name of the game and, thanks to Marco di Ciano’s keenly priced menu, it’s hard to lose. While Roman-style pizza (sold by the slice, slab or half slab) is the house specialty, the porchetta panini is what you’re really here for: a hefty sandwich starring rosemary-spiked roast pork, cradled between two golden plinths of house-baked flatbread.
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Cheerio Coffee, West Perth
Get the bourekas, filled with various cheeses and encrusted with seeds and spice. Get the galette, all flaky and burnished and laden with seasonal fruit. Get the Saturday doughnuts. Just get here early: everything at this bijou micro-bakery from former Mary Street Bakery head baker Courtney Gibb is worth your attention. The only downside? Quantities are as small as the bakery itself and items move quick.
Dahl Daddys, Margaret River
Trading out of an after-hours cafe at the Margaret River Skate Park, ex-boilermaker Corey Rozario is serving singular, deeply satisfying curries and dal that celebrate his family’s Burmese roots as well as South Asian food culture at large. The dal – as the name suggests – is made according to his dad’s recipe, kangaroo is turned into bunny chow and a potato and meatball curry, and the balachan, laphet (Burmese tea leaf salad), brinjal (eggplant pickle) and other condiments are house-made.
Short Order Burger Co supremo Simon Kony knows a thing or two about deliciousness betwixt bread. So it comes as no surprise that his expansion into the realm of fried chicken sandwiches has been good news for eaters. The chicken tenders come in a range of spice levels, the limited chicken-skin sandwiches have all the hallmarks of signature dish status, and everything is tied together by a fun retro bent.
Miss Mi, CBD
Helmed by former Low Key Chow House head chef Alex de Leon, this 180-seater at the Novotel Perth Murray Street follows the modern Asian aspirations of the Melbourne original. Kangaroo skewers and Sichuan-glazed lamb ribs speak to the grill’s influence on the menu, while stir-fried Manila clams with squid XO show the kitchen is as adept with surf as it is turf.
Mistelle, Shenton Park
This family-run restaurant might have swapped the vineyards of the Bickley Valley for the leafy streets of the western suburbs, but Chantelle and Benoit Lasplace’s raison d’etre remains unchanged: represent bistro dining and wining to the fullest. Drop into the bar for a glass and some snacks, book into the restaurant for duck confit, crème brûlée and other classics, or book in for the Tuesday night test kitchen that sees the kitchen go off-piste.
Normal Van, Margaret River
First there was Normal Van, the food truck. Then, after four years of bringing comforting North American cooking to the south-west, founders Jess Waldron and Rob Webster parked up in the middle of Margaret River, giving their loyal fans a permanent destination to score plus-sized bacon cheeseburgers, fried chicken sandwiches and golden chips, all offered alongside local beers and wines.
Rojiura Curry Samurai, CBD
Rojiura Curry Samurai chef-owner Nobukazu Muraki believes curry should take time. The base of his Hokkaido-style curry – soupier than the thicker, roux-based Japanese curries usually served around these parts – takes three days to cook and involves no small amount of vegetables and seasoning (and, curiously, some banana). The effort, however, is worth it with Perth eaters crowding Muraki’s perky 50-seater in Shafto Lane for high-definition tastes of Japan’s north. Join the crowd.
Teeter, East Perth
If this two-day-a-week bakery in East Perth’s industrial quarter seems like an unusual addition to this list, keep in mind that owner Natasha Brownfield’s baked goods are unusually good. Her shatteringly crisp croissants are among Perth’s finest, sandwiches made with house bread are a delight and barely-there chiffon cakes are pictures of grace and exacting technique.
This modern Greek taverna is a cliche-free zone. The drinks list gives Greco tipples the respect they deserve, including xinomavro, assyrtiko, ouzo; the room’s minimalist fit-out is contemporary, and zero plates get smashed. Instead, they’re sent out into the wild carrying Justin Scarvaci’s sharp takes on Hellenic cooking, from upbeat vegetarian dolmades and elegant Greek hand pies (pastourmadopitakia to the purists) to a cool baklava and bay leaf parfait ice cream sandwich.
Republic of Fremantle, Fremantle
At last! This ambitious urban distillery in Freo’s West End became the proud owner of a new open-fire kitchen and expanded dining area earlier this year. Translation: head chef Emily Jones – a cooking talent to watch – has more toys to play with, while eaters have a dedicated space in which to enjoy dainty three-bite duck sandwiches, grilled shishito peppers served with a bitter orange reduction, and other gin-friendly plates.
Additional reporting by Emmylou Dzubiel, Martin Eade, Bonita Grima and Jono Outred.