When word got out that Joel Valvasori-Pereza was taking his final bow at Lalla Rookh, Italian food fans around Perth began wringing their hands. Where, many wondered, would they go for their fix of hearty, northern Italian-style cooking? The answer, as it turns out, is Subiaco.
At the end of October, Valvasori-Pereza will begin welcoming guests at Lulu La Delizia, an intimate osteria named after his grandmother who immigrated to Perth in the 50s from Italy’s Friuli region. In the same way that Luigia Valvasori introduced her grandson to the tastes of Italy’s north, Valvasori-Pereza will be passing on this knowledge to diners, one bowl of pasta at a time.
“People go to places just to eat ramen, sushi or pho,” he says. “I don’t see why we can’t have dedicated places where people go to eat pasta.”
As those that ate at Lalla Rookh will attest, Valvasori-Pereza’s handmade pasta was a highlight of his time there, not least because he served rarely-seen tastes of his family’s ancestral home. While Lulu’s pasta selection will feature plenty of Friulian action – cjalsons, semi-sweet agnolotti filled with dried fruit and spices, and triangular-shaped fusi istriani are some of the regional signatures diners can look forward to trying – our man is no one-region chef. His garganelli, for instance, has its origins in Emilia-Romagna, a neighbouring region that, according to Valvasori-Pereza, “is about the same distance as Perth to Bunbury.”
“We’ll be doing special pastas of the day that are going to keep things interesting for everyone,” he says.
While pasta will be the focus, a delizia ("delights") menu will cover everything from stuzighet (the Friulian word for antipasto) to dulc (sweets). The drinks list will be a mix of Northern Italian and local producers with wine choices designed to partner with the food. While there’ll be one large table available for large groups (a set menu is in the works), most of the restaurant will be filled with smaller covers.
Although Valvasori-Pereza says some parts of the Lulu menu will be familiar to Lalla Rookh regulars (yes, Lalla’s cult braised bone marrow is making its way to Subi), he makes no apologies for staying true to his food roots.
“I’m not a believer in wholesale changes, I’m a believer in evolution,” he says. “It’s the way I cook. I use a lot of family recipes and it’s what everyone seems to enjoy and appreciate. I’ve been working towards this the whole time. Now it’s here, I’m not going to throw it out the window.”
Lulu La Delizia opens in Subiaco at the end of October and will initially open for lunch and dinner between Tuesday and Saturday.