There has been a fair bit of comment recently about the transformation of the Perth restaurant scene by the bright new culinary stars ascendant in the foodie firmament.
Threatening the old, the tired, the self-satisfied and the traditional, the chefanistas are bringing new skills, new ideas and passion to their metier.
Well, there may be those who are quaking in their boots but I'm not sure the Italian restaurant fraternity are among them. It wouldn't surprise me if the terms nouvelle cuisine, molecular gastronomy, deconstructed, dude food or, heaven forbid, sous vide never made it into an Italian dictionary.
Apart from the likes of La Pergola in Rome and Piazza Duomo in Alba, most Italians would shudder at the thought of messing around with what they consider the best cuisine in the world. Not that there's anything wrong with traditional Italian fare if it is well cooked, well presented, and well served in congenial surroundings - which just about sums up Millioncino.
We kicked off with a pizza bianca ($16) that was puffy- crunchy-buttery with a good balance of rosemary and salt.
I seldom eat pasta in Italian restaurants. It's filling and one must leave room for dessert. But as someone said, you don't have to eat it all. My dining companion is a pasta freak and the waiter willingly allowed an entree size although only mains were listed, so pasta it was.
The penne alla amatriciana ($14/$27.90) featured a bracing, freshly astringent, light tomato sauce. However, the use of bacon rather than pancetta detracted from this delightfully simple dish. The sultanas in my spaghetti with sardines ($14/$28) gave a welcome sweet edge to the natural oiliness of the fish and pine nuts added texture. Despite the aforementioned advice, it was hard not to eat it all.
Chicken breast with ham, cheese, and sage ($35) was serviceable, although the roasted cherry tomatoes were the strongest flavoured thing on the plate. The accompanying mashed potato cake was a tad dry - the addition of an egg yolk and some cream to the mash would have made all the difference.
Although the veal scaloppine ($37.90) with a lemon butter sauce was exceptionally tender, the lemon sauce needed more lemon. I had a garden salad and I do wish that in an Italian restaurant which aspires to grandeur - or even one that does not - you could dress your own salad.
I believe Catherine de' Medici's chefs taught the French all they know about desserts after she married Henry II in 1547, and the lesson continues at Millioncino. If there is such a thing as death by cream custard, the cannolo Siciliano ($15.20) is the perfect way to go - a deep fried crunchy-crisp outer and an iniquitously creamy inner that would seduce the most hardened ascetic - as would the light but opulent chocolate tart ($13.60).
The wine list makes for interesting reading, particularly the Italian section which includes the underappreciated Morellino di Scansano. On the whole, though, it was a bit pricey. This also goes for the limited number of wines by the glass - one fizz, three whites and three reds - none of them under $13.50.
Service couldn't be faulted.
Address 451 Murray Street, Perth
Phone 9480 3884
Open Monday to Sunday: breakfast 7-11am, lunch 11am-3.30pm, dinner 6-10pm
The buzz Unapologetically traditional, well-cooked, generous Italian fare. While the prices are at the top end, the environment is inviting, well-spaced and comfortable, and the service is excellent.13/20