No-nonsense Italian

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SOUTH COOGEE CAFE, Munster

by JENNY D’ANGER:

Big hair, short, tight skirts and ankle-breaking stilettoes.

Had I walked onto the set of Married to the Mob, I thought, watching and listening as the clientele of this Munster cafe came and went. Or those episodes of The Sopranos that centre on the restaurant. There was a lot of going outside, drink in one hand, fag in the other.

Front of house had the ambience of a fish and chippy, while the chef was a hulking young giant, greeting regulars with shouts across from the open kitchen of, “Mate! How-ya-goin’ mate?!”.

I’d been hearing rave reports about the recently opened South Coogee Cafe, but doubt was creeping in. Cut and run, or stay and give it a try, we debated. Then I spotted crab linguini ($22) on the menu.

Surely, locally caught crab with fresh tomato, white wine and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil for the uninitiated) and linguini, rather than plain old spag, was a good sign, I ventured to Dazza D’Anger.

“Yer, right Jezza,” he replied, getting into the vibe and plumping for the salmon linguini ($18), with capers, cream and tomato.

“Do I pay now or at the end of the meal?!” I shouted over the boom-boom sound system to the front counter.

“You pay now!” was the blunt response, indicating a no-nonsense approach to customers thinking of doing a runner (surely, not in those stilletoes?). It was a similar sonorous tone to the “Silencio! No photo!” that guards yell out every couple of minutes in the Sistene Chapel.

I’m still getting my head around the surroundings at South Coogee given the quality of the food, although the lower section of the eatery was more salubrious than the formica tables we’d sat at. A sign the food is good, the place was absolutely pumping and table space was at a premium.

Our order took a while to arrive—also a good sign of fresh preparation I opined, and I was right. The linguini was beautifully al dente, firm but not too firm. And unlike too many Italian restaurants the sauce for each dish is not identical.

Neither is it pre-made, meaning Dazza could enjoy his salmon without cream, just as he likes it. The good-sized serve was pleasantly smoked, with a delicious caper kick.

My crab, while similar, had marked differences and a softer taste, not to mention a delicious, rich oily coating to the pasta.

The garlic bread ($5) was however, disappointing, cooked in a sandwich machine it resembled a flat biscuit. It could have been alright but sadly the garlic was burnt.

Despite being rushed off her feet our lovely young waiter was delightfully efficient, quickly whipping away dirty plates and asking if all was to our liking.

This daggy strip of shops is sparking into a new life, with a great little Indian and now an excellent Italian, meaning locals don’t have to stray far for a good feed, at affordable prices.

South Coogee Cafe
639 Rockingham Rd, Munster
Open Wed–Fri, and Sun for
lunch, Wed to Sun for dinner
BYO | 6498 9759

 

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