SAUSAGES so shrivelled they look like a geriatric’s penis, bright yellow chiko rolls, and chips cooked in prehistoric oil.
These were some of the culinary delights you would find at greasy spoon cafes embedded in decrepit shopping centres on the edge of town.
Soulless caverns with fakes bags, cut-price jewellery and the odd guy shuffling around like an extra from Columbo.
But in recent times it’s all changed and the standard of eatery in shopping centres has sky rocketed with some lovely places to visit – like Milano’s.
Situated on the outside of the Hawaiian Shopping Centre, beside the Canning Highway, it’s a bit of a favourite with Bicton locals, who know they’ll get a good-quality, causal Italian meal without breaking the bank.
My wife and her pals eat there before going to see am-dram productions at Melville Theatre across the road (I think the last one was a reboot of Hamlet with Polonius driving a Tesla and Gertrude smoking a vape).
Tonight we decided to try Milano’s takeaway. Their Uber Eats menu had a classic range of dishes including starters (arancini, bruschetta, garlic bread), meat and seafood (parmigiana, chilli mussels, lamb cutlets, mango chicken) and pizza (margherita, meatlovers, calzone, pepperoni) and pasta and risotto (gamberi, penne chicken, carbonara).
There was nothing that experimental on there, but all the favourites were covered and they were a few curveballs like prawn and scallop ravioli, and lamb pizza to keep you interested.
My seafood paella ($33) was delivered in a large tinfoil tray, which kept it piping hot on a cold and damp winter’s night.
I often find delivered seafood a bit disappointing – by the time you get it the prawns are like rubber and everything is either overcooked or dried-up – but this was the exception to the rule and was nice and moist and looked super-fresh.
There was a colourful bevy of prawns, squid, fish and mussels. I was especially impressed with the squid; no elastic bands here and it had plenty of flavour and a pleasant texture.
The rest of the seafood was well cooked and there was plenty of it.
The peas, capsicum and diced tomatoes added some moistness to the dish and complemented the seafood with their gentle flavours.
But paella’s live and die by their saffron rice and stock, so what were they like? Pretty tasty, but I was expecting more of a fishy punch.
The dish was still a solid B+ and a very enjoyable paella, especially for a takeaway.
Across the table, my wife “Special K” was getting tucked into her Italian stalwart – carbonara ($28.50).
“It’s a good serve and all the classic flavours are there with the bacon, spring onions, garlic and cream combining well,” she says.
“I like the slivers of mushrooms and it’s topped with some shaved parmesan.
“It’s a bit on the oily side though and maybe it could have been drained before being added to the container.”
My two young kids briefly stopped bashing each other to wolf down their Margherita pizza ($22) which they shared.
The flavours were all there but it was slightly on the cool side.
I’ve had this problem with pizzas from restaurants a few times – I wonder if they can stipulate that third party delivery drivers must have an insulated bag for food like pizza that cool quickly.
Apart from that, it was a top notch Margherita.
As I gave Milano’s the thumbs-up, my wife looked me in the eye – “You can come along to the next am-dram production – I think they’re doing a mash-up of Shirley Valentine and The Nugget…”
Milano’s Restaurant and Pizzeria
Melville Plaza Shopping Centre
380 Canning Highway, Bicton
by STEPHEN POLLOCK