TUCKED away in an unassuming nook, Parlapa is a hole-in-the wall rustic Italian cafe serving up authentic meals in the heart of Fremantle.
If you blink you just might miss it. But once you walk in, you’re transported to a place reminiscent of Lewis Carrol’s “Alice in Wonderland.” The mismatched chairs and homespun furniture takes you away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
The air is filled with the chatter of all types: families, businesspeople and uni students alike. It’s a warm, welcoming space for all to enjoy.
Behind the counter is the owner of Parlapa, Ada, who seems to be in three places at once between taking orders, bringing out food and making conversation with her regulars.
The far wall is decorated with framed black and white photos of Italian celebrities eating pasta and one corner is covered in posters for upcoming local events.
We take our seats behind a wall of white tiles covered in children’s drawings and short reviews from past customers written in kaleidoscopic markers.
The ‘drawing wall’ and unco furniture make you feel a bit like you’re at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, but maybe Lewis Carroll was channelling a genuine Italian restaurant, as it’s also got that feel.
Despite the old floorboards and weathered paint, the menu is modern with an array of vegetarian options and alternative milks.
We order handmade gnocchi with Nonna’s pomodoro sauce ($19) and spaghetti with five-hour cooked beef ragù ($16).
The meals were out in a dash, well presented with basil garnish and served up in beautiful ceramic crockery.
The vegetarian gnocchi is perfectly cooked, melting in the mouth with its succulent, soft texture. The traditional tomato sauce complements the taste of the gnocchi wonderfully.
The spaghetti was al dente, with the ragù drenched in a rich tomato sauce but not overwhelming in taste.
Topped with parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper, both portions are generous but not enough to stop one from getting coffee and dessert after.
The oat flat white and iced almond latte came out, each served on a colourful saucer alongside a small shortbread cookie.
The coffees are truly delicious, the espresso rich with chocolate undertones and the alternative milk smooth and soft on the tongue.
For dessert, we indulge in a slice of housemade pear tarte tatin served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The pastry is flakey, light and delicate and the sweetness of the pear balances with the strong cinnamon flavour.
Whether you’re chasing a caffeine fix or want the full sit down Italian experience, Parlapa delivers both Monday to Friday.
11 William St, Fremantle
Mon – Fri, 7.30am-2pm
0439 294 147