Eating Italian food in Fremantle is hardly groundbreaking. But Vin Populi (pronounced pop-you-lee) is slicker than your average Freo fare.

That’s because it has pedigree. Co-owners Emma Ferguson and her partner Dan Morris have run Northbridge staple No Mafia for almost a decade, and perennial CBD favourite Balthazar has been under their stewardship since 2016. Their first restaurant south of the river takes lessons from both.

That starts with the menu. It changes daily and is written up on a central chalkboard, making room for seasonal produce and seafood. You might find Fremantle sardines tossed through gnocchetti or a simple spaghetti con polpette (spaghetti with meatballs). The charcuterie range is also impressive. There’s prosciutto from Parma, salumi from a range of local suppliers, and Futari Wagyu bresaola.

Any of it will pair well with something from the wine list, which focuses on Italian drops and small, family-run Western Australian producers.

That WA family focus pays homage to the venue’s rich history. It was previously home to the Abrugiato family's Roma Cucina, which attracted David Bowie and Bob Hawke in its heyday. The textured plaster walls and mosaic-tiled tables and floors evoke memories of Roma Cucina while also remaining modern. While Vin Populi does take bookings, most of the space is reserved for walk-ins. So it’s perfect for strolling in on a balmy Freo evening and tucking into comforting Italian food and easy-drinking wines.

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Updated: October 3rd, 2023

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