IN the same week Mark McGowan flew non-stop from Perth to Rome, I went to Gucce Pizzeria e Cucina Italiana in Applecross.
It didn’t take me 15 hours, but the traffic was pretty heavy.
Like the premier, on arrival I did the most bogan, Australian cliched-thing possible – I ordered a Peroni.
What’s next – McGowan singing Shaddap Your Face while dressed as a gladiator?
The Applecross Village was in full bloom on a gorgeous winter’s day – old rich people were meeting for lunch and the beau monde were looking at dresses I would need to sell one of my kidneys to afford.
I hadn’t been to Gucce before, because like fashion label Gucci, it was expensive and there was no set lunch menu.
In this economic climate, a cheaper option would be good, but I put aside my prejudice and opened their plush leather-bound menu, which reminded me of the old-school restaurants you get in Italian tourist towns.
The menu had a nice range of dishes including antipasti (smoked wagyu beef carpaccio), fresh hand-made pasta (saffron cavatelli, duck agnolotti) and pizza (gamberi piccante, monza, boscaiola).
It wasn’t too staid or too experimental; a nice balance between tradition and Heston Blumenthal madness.
There was also a kids menu, which wasn’t the cheapest, but at least they had one.
The interior was a mix of fancy wallpaper, comfy leather seats, a big gorgeous bar and inoffensive pop music. It felt nice and cosy with a pinch of cheesy Italian glamour.
The restaurant was quite busy on a Wednesday lunchtime and the wait for our meal was nearly as long as McGowan’s flight – but credit to the polite and helpful waitress and manager whom apologised on three seperate occasions.
I don’t mind the meal being late, if you are informed why.
The food was worth the wait – my linguine marinara ($39) was amazing. A delicious medley of fresh mussels, prawns, squid and cherry tomatoes.
A few things made it standout: the soft tail-off prawns were the best I’ve had in a marinara, the tomato sauce had a rich, intense depth of flavour, and the pasta was super light and fresh.
It was a huge portion with loads of seafood, but because it was fresh pasta I didn’t feel like I had over-indulged. Fantastic dish.
My wife was as equally impressed with her crab gnocchi ($37).
“The soft pillows of potato melt in your mouth and go beautifully with the sweet blue swimmer crab,” she said.
“I like the addition of courgette – it’s slightly unusual and gives the dish a nice texture – while the tomato salsa adds a rich flavour twist. Top stuff.”
The desserts including burnt Catalan cheesecake and that old classic tiramisu, looked tempting, but we were full after the huge mains.
Gucce is up there price-wise but the hand-made pasta dishes were amazing and well worth the money. The service was great too, despite the delay.
I would recommend going for dinner or a long, lingering lunch.
You might even see Mark McGowan singing Nessun dorma.
Gucce Pizzeria e Cucina Italiana
36 Ardross Street, Applecross
by STEPHEN POLLOCK