Ellenbrook Woodfire Italian Restaurant is the kind of suburban gem you want to tell your friends about, but at the same time keep a close secret. Owner and chef Lorenzo Schiaffini has earned a reputation for authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas and family-style cuisine, but he has struggled to attract Perth diners to the north-east. He’s now decided to test the market closer to the city by taking over Subiaco’s Allora cafe for dinner service throughout August.
“I’ve had three years of being told I should have opened somewhere else, so let’s give it a go somewhere else and see what happens – that’s the bottom line,” says Schiaffini, who has opened and run restaurants for Jamie Oliver in the UK and Australia. “There’s a bit of competition around here but we’ll do our thing and see what happens.”
Schiaffini launched the in-demand mobile Fire Truck Pizzeria last year complete with woodfired oven and flashing green, white and red lights. Add in a growing sideline in bombolini (Italian doughnuts) and there’s little time for sleep. Sunday morning doughnut production starts at 3am, not long after Saturday night service has ended.
“It’s madness, pure madness. That’s the official answer from my wife, anyway,” he says.
The regularly changing menu will be smaller than Woodfire’s usual offering but still include a range of antipasti, freshly made pasta, main courses, woodfired pizza and desserts.
Nitrate-free meats from local butchers Princi Smallgoods are the star of the antipasti menu. Opening dishes include spaghetti vongole, sweet potato and butternut gnocchi with taleggio “fonduta” (a decadent fondue) and eggplant parmigiana. Joining bomboloni and cannoli for dessert is a woodfired lemon tart made using the recipe from London’s River Cafe, another notch on Schiaffini’s resume.
Running the kitchen at the 50-seat dinners is Grant Greyling, Schiaffini's former right hand man at Perth's Jamie's Italian. Diners can BYO, and takeaways are available.
The Woodfire pop-ups will initially run from Wednesday to Saturday during August and are likely to become permanent. Sunday lunch and delivery options will be added in future. Allora will continue to offer breakfast and lunch during the week.
Woodfire Italian Restaurant at Allora
391 Hay Street, Subiaco
(08) 6296 3888
Wed-Sat (throughout August) 5pm-9pm