Tavolo defies the movie dining stereotype

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Asked to picture dining options at a Perth cinema complex, most of us imagine familiar scenes of chain outlets serving up stock food. New Perth Italian restaurant Tavolo looks set to be more of a crowd pleaser.

Tavolo officially opened at Belmont’s Reading Cinema Complex Saturday night, with a Great Gatsby-themed launch that highlighted the restaurant’s chic interior.

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Owners Jess and Mario Fisicchia want to cater for couples, families and functions alike, all while offering an alternative to the “canteen style” atmosphere they’ve cultivated in nearby Sapore Espresso Bar. The pair describe Tavolo’s menu as “modern European with an Italian focus”, and that was certainly the case on opening night, which involved a Mediterranean medley of tasters.

We found the salt cod croquettes a bit lacking in fishy flavour, but any concerns were soon forgotten thanks to a strong ensemble performance from the dishes that followed.

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Arancini – chicken and cheese or pumpkin and saffron – were melting morsels of handheld comfort food, while stylishly-served pork belly bites were capped with a delicious crunch. Several primo pizzas circulated the room too, and did not last for long. The standout teamed cured meat and lip-smacking salted cheese with dough that offered just the right amount of smoky chewiness.

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My girlfriend was a big fan of the house sparkling, courtesy of River Retreat, and we were also encouraged for future pudding plans (dessert pizza?!) after trying one of the cupcakes, which topped a light but tasty sponge with plenty of chocolate frosting.

The pizza oven – along with the sauce for the pies – was imported from Italy, but Jess was keen to emphasise Tavolo’s strong links to its locality. The restaurant’s beef comes from south-west WA, while cheese is chosen from Belmont’s Blue Cow Cheese Co. “We really want to contribute to the area,” Jess added. “We’re local, and it’s the people that come in every day that we’re grateful to.”

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Though it was designed with a more “intimate” feel in mind, Tavolo includes a children’s space, with small chairs and toys in a separate area that can still be seen by parents. “It’s family friendly, so people won’t feel like they’re not welcome with kids,” Jess added. The kids’ lunch menu features steak and veggies as well as juice and ice cream for $12; a departure from the buckets of nuggets and fries available near many cinemas.

The kitchen has just launched a takeaway service, and the location alongside Reading Cinemas should also mean extra film-fuelled footfall; there was an additional rush as the opening week coincided with showings of the new Bridget Jones flick.

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If what we saw is anything to go by, a warm atmosphere and varied menu mean Tavolo looks like somewhere that will definitely be worth a visit.

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Tavolo, 5/237 Knutsford Avenue, Belmont, is open for snacks and drinks from 10am ’til late. Lunch is served 11am – 3pm; dinner 5pm – late.

Disclaimer: Foodie Cravings attended as a guest of Tavolo. See disclosure policy for further details. 

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Having moved to Perth from the UK, I’m getting to know the city by working my way through its cafes, bars and restaurants. I’m not sure if I have a favourite cuisine (all of them?) but I am enjoying Perth’s East-Asian options, along with the many opportunities for beer and ice cream.

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