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A food trail with gusto

Two words: ‘Fremantle’ and ‘food’. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Italian, right? Ever since Italian migrants first spearheaded its fishing industry in the 1880s, Fremantle has been cosying up to the idea of pizza and pasta, garlic prawns and chilli mussels. The main foodie strip is colloquially named after a certain froth-topped Italian coffee. Gelato shops abound.

But there’s Italian and there’s Italian, and when in Freo you want to know you’re getting the real deal.

The new Gusto Italiano Trail identifies some of the city’s most authentic Italian eateries–from relative newcomers to decades–old family run establishments. It lists eight must–do restaurants within strolling distance of each other. Consider a grazing event with a course at several stops. There’s no rush to get from antipasti to primi to secondi–and one must always leave room for dolce.

1. It’s tucked away, but do seek out Parlapa, an unassuming family run café whose gnocci and slow–cooked ragu is legendary among regulars. It’s not open nights, so consider it for lunch on a day trip. Bring an appetite.

2. Roma Cucina is among the longest standing of Freo’s Italian eateries. A stalwart of the West End since the 1950s, the former Roma Restaurant is still run by members of the same family. Simple, rustic Italian is on the menu.

there’s Italian and there’s Italian, and when in Freo you want to know you’re getting the real deal.

3. At Pizza Bella Roma, Mario has been a pizza chef for more than 25 years. That speaks volumes about the consistency at this Cappuccino Strip favourite. Its big menu promises flavoursome, generous servings of every offering imaginable. Pizza is just the beginning.

4. Craving an authentic wood-fired pizza? Sandrino Café and Pizzeria does thin crusted, gooey topped, hand-stretched creations made by proud pizzaiolos. Handmade pasta and other Mediterranean offerings are also on offer.

5. La Sosta has the hat trick: a grand two-level venue with a deep deck overlooking the strip, an impressive wine and cocktail list, and an open plan kitchen producing rave worthy pasta, seafood and meat dishes, plus house made bread. This local favourite gets the big tick from the Italian Council for Italian quality and authenticity, in the form of the Ospitalita Italiana award.

6. Making the best of its Market Street Piazza location, Portorosa spills out into an alfresco area with giant market umbrellas–great for people watching. Wood fired pizza and big serves of whatever Italian fare takes your fancy are all here.

7. Some cafes fall foul of fickle public favour. Not Gino’s. Tailor Gino Saccone started the café in 1983 when he couldn’t find a decent cup of joe in town. Gino’s still holds court on the strip as the go–to coffee haunt to be seen at, run by three generations of the same family. Home style Italian cooking completes the offering.

8. Harking back to simpler times? There’s a strong hint of the 1950s at Capri Restaurant, a visit to which is as much about the charming décor as the genuine Northern Italian food. This long standing establishment is great value, unpretentious and family friendly.

Off the trail
These establishments are south of Freo’s centre, but worthy of inclusion for being stand–out, real–deal Italian nosheries.

Ruocco’s Pizzeria e Ristorante
Always heaving with people, Ruocco’s was the first to do wood fired pizza in WA. Its exhaustive Mediterranean menu shows it hasn’t rested on its laurels. 

L’Antica
One for the true Italy-philes. Not just for the food; the décor and bric a brac here is steeped in cultural references. The coffee is excellent.

Dolce & Salato
Cloistered near a shopping centre, there’s a fresh daily supply of pizza, focaccia and pastries issuing forth from this South Fremantle gem.

Ed
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Fremantle's top 10 free school holiday activities

Sharpen the kids’ word sleuth skills with the #Freo_Babble hunt, visit the museums, hire a bike - here's our top ten free things to do with the kids.

1. Transportation Exhibition at Fremantle Prison

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Hougoumont, the last convict ship to arrive in Australia, Fremantle Prison’s new exhibition Transportation examines the forced migration of convicts from Britain to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries.

2. #Freo_Babble letter sleuth game

Pick up a #Freo_Babble map from Fremantle Visitor Centre, WA Shipwrecks Museum or Oxfam or download and collect the letters from Freo businesses to make out the mystery song title. You could win fabulous prizes including a $500 shopping spree.

3. Visit the shipwrecks at WA Shipwrecks Museum

Recognised as the foremost maritime archaeology museum in the southern hemisphere and housed in a 1850s-era Commissariat building the galleries house hundreds of relics from ships wrecked along WA's treacherous coastline, including the original timbers from the Batavia (wrecked in 1629), the de Vlamingh plate, and also countless artefacts from the Dutch shipwrecks Zuytdorp, Zeewijk and Vergulde Draeck.

4. Free bike hire from Fremantle Visitor Centre

This free bike hire service with bikes for adults and kids (8+ years) operates from the Fremantle Visitor Centre in Kings Square. Bikes can be used anywhere in the Fremantle area. There are a limited number of bikes available for hire so arrive early to avoid disappointment. Read our South Beach to Leighton cycling blog for bike ride ideas.

5. Take a spin at the Esplanade Youth Plaza

Pack up the kid’s skateboards, scooters or roller skates and spend an afternoon at one of the most popular skate facilities in the metro area. There’s also places to try ping pong, rock climbing, slack-lining and parkour and the playground adjacent to the plaza has swings and a giant climbing frame. Bring a picnic or grab a bite to eat from nearby cafés and restaurants all within walking distance.

6. Firing of the cannon at the Round House

Opened in 1831, Round House is the oldest public building in Western Australia. Hear the story of why the cannon is fired every day at 1 pm – visitors can even apply to act as the honorary gunner!

7. Self-guided walking trails

Explore Fremantle attractions, history, cultural heritage and the arts with one of the Explore Fremantle walking trails. There are eleven trails to choose from including street art, Walk with the Windsors, heritage highlights and Manjaree. The trails work on iPhone and Android devices (you can connect to FREBytes free wifi in the CBD).

8. Visit the giant fish tanks at Cicerello’s

Over 50 species of marine life, all collected in Fremantle waters housed in a giant aquarium holding over 20,000 litres of water.

9. Bird watching around Fremantle

Get to know the species of birdlife around Freo. Download a copy of the Birdwatching around Fremantle guide and challenge the kids to spot an Australasian darter or a Wilson’s Storm Petrel.

10. Swan River, beaches, parks and playgrounds

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that create the best memories and Fremantle has amazing outdoor spaces for the kids to run around... skimming stones under the traffic bridge, collecting shells at South Beach or a picnic beside the lake at Booyeembara Park, here's some of the best spots.

After you’ve exhausted the kids there are plenty of kid friendly places to pick up lunch or a drink (the nature play area behind Moore & Moore and Paper Bird Children's Books and Arts is a favourite). Our school holiday program has some great coupon offers from local businesses and don’t forget to tag @fremantlestory on Instagram–we’d love to see what you get up to.

Ed
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Sharp dressed men

Here comes a cliché: men don’t like shopping. And yet, men need things to wear. Fremantle is wise to this conundrum. It has more than a few stores that have defied retail trends to survive and thrive–some for decades–by offering the right mix of product and service.

“We take the pain out of it,” says Sam Pangiarella at Warrens Menswear, who could be speaking for all the service-driven operators attracting clientele from across Perth and beyond.

Fellas, your wearables are waiting. And be heartened by the knowledge that when trying on strides or choosing your season’s shirts in Freo, you are never more than 30 paces from a celebratory coffee or beer.

As well as suiting up everyone from school ball beaus to wedding parties, Warrens has a phenomenal range of Levi’s and the only Seidensticker shirts south of the river. Clearly you learn something about what guys want when you’ve been in business since 1931. Attentive, intuitive service backs up the quality.

Across the road at Terrace Menswear, there’s a fashion-savvy feel to the gear, much of which is imported from Italy. The always-slick window displays at this 32 year-old institution herald the level of quality to the range, which covers everything from dress jackets to tees, shoes, watches, socks and aftershave. Wearable fashion is the mantra. An investment here is unlikely to date.

Along High Street, there’s variety and contrast. You can pick up a locally made artisan tee or a pair of cufflinks at the Common Ground Collective, or some handmade shoes at Bodkins Bootery, a long standing institution specialising in high quality Spanish, Italian and English shoes (although the Anastazi boots are locally made by hand). Ecuadorian straw hats round out the offering here. There’s a women’s range, too, to keep female shopping partners interested.

Bousfields is a stalwart of the High Street strip, an old fashioned menswear shop where measuring tapes are always at the ready. Get fitted for a suit, pick up a casual shirt or some socks, and don’t go past the range of hats–from paper to wool–gracing the shelves.

At near–neighbour Three Stories, the feel is more surf and skate, with a bit of a twist. The wearables sit alongside a great range of gifts, games, books and art. There’s even a dedicated floor for surfboards and skateboards. There’s more in the street wear offering at Wear2, where the shoes, tees and pants are sourced from around the world. Defiant skaters need look no further than 1991 Skateshop.

Knucklehead Shipping Co at MANY 2.0 bridges the gap between contemporary and bygone era dressing. From jackets to accessories, it’s good quality, dapper stuff with confidence and attitude. You might also browse the vintage clothing in the MANY 2.0 collective for a fun retro find.

Finishing touches? Compendium Design Store is worth a visit for its unisex design–forward offerings. Messenger bags, watches and Solid State cologne are all here.

Fellas, your wearables are waiting. And be heartened by the knowledge that when trying on strides or choosing your season’s shirts in Freo, you are never more than 30 paces from a celebratory coffee or beer.

Ed
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10 (surprising) dog-friendly places in Fremantle

Stella is with Rosie and Felix at a Freo café. They're planning a mooch around the shops and galleries, then some chill time at the pub. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Except that Stella's a Ridgeback, Rosie's a black Labrador, and Felix is a rescue hound of indeterminate origin. They've brought their humans of course. They're right at home in Fremantle, which declares its dog leanings at every turn. The prevalence of water bowls on footpaths is a dead giveaway, and foot traffic is often four-legged. Here's ten dog-friendly places in Freo...

1. Pekho on Wray Avenue is brimful of stylish homewares and fashion. What could go wrong? A water bowl declares that dogs are welcome, and those that visit are likely to be photographed for inclusion on the canine-themed photo wall behind the counter.

2. Piggy Food Co; ‘park’ your dog in the special doggy parking area out front of the alfresco beer garden. Fur children are welcome in the pig pen.

3. Threeo; it’s a café sharing floor space with the precious gifts and home wares of Salty Gold, but that doesn’t stop the hounds flooding in for a deluxe puppycino – lovingly concocted from pureed pumpkin, chicken stock and coconut milk.

4. Hype DC; no need to leave Fido on the footpath. Hype encourages shoppers to consult with their hounds about their footwear purchases on the shop floor.

5. Pigeonhole: despite the shop being full of breakable gifts, homewares and clothing, dogs are welcome inside (and Bendo dog bowls are for sale).

6. Percy Flint; dogs drink free at Percy Flint, where canine regulars are often spotted both in the flesh and on Instagram, hanging out in the beer garden.

7. Saga Bookshop; there’s a bias towards dog-themed books and gifts and, despite its pristine bright yellow lounge chairs, the South Freo book shop is relaxed about dogs browsing the shelves if they’re well behaved.

8. East West Design; in the vast, hangar-style acreage of East West Design, you can shop for furniture and exercise your dog at the same time.

9. Kidogo Arthouse; dogs often feature as part of wedding parties here, and when it’s operating as a gallery, they’re welcome to tag along with their owners for a culture fix.

10. Little Creatures Brewhouse; pooches can hang in the beer garden, and if they’re prone to wandering off, you can buy a Creatures ID tag powered by online site Pet Return.

Cafes

Lots of Freo cafes welcome dogs. We’ve seen them relaxing everywhere from Port City Roasters to The Little Concept, Chalkys, Third Wheel, The Orange Box , Propeller and The Carriage. Some – like Il Cibo and Ohana Acai Bar – offer treats for free.

Looking for extras?

  • Treats, dog beer, dog birthday cakes. All these are available at Slobberlicious at the Freo markets.
  • Also in the markets, Paws and More has clothes, collars and dog bling.
  • Natural food and grooming products are at Manna Wholefoods.
  • Take your pooch with you to the Growers Green market in Beaconsfield on Sundays, where there’s a hands-on dog wash and organic pet food. 
Ed
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Fine fare

Converted warehouses. Architectural designs. Ocean views. Salty air. Lofty ceilings with natural light streaming in. Menus dedicated to only the freshest produce, hand-crafted in the early hours of the morning. Always served confidently with a smile. Fremantle is bursting with unique food offerings that could rival any dining experience across the state. Our line–up of unique eateries merge striking design, passionate chefs and seasonal driven cooking, to draw diners to our port city again, and again. Our top fine dining venues showcase the best in seasonal produce on their world-class menus, with the quintessential touch of Fremantle soul that our vibrant city is renowned for.

Fremantle institution: Bread in Common

In the early hours of 3 am each morning, award–winning chef Scott Brannigan and his team begin baking their namesake ahead of a bustling day of bringing to life a menu dedicated to showcasing seasonal and locally sourced produce. Every ingredient and process is carefully considered–from the churning of their own butter, using leftover vegetable skins to make vinegar, to utilising the fresh ingredients plucked from their verge garden. This impressive food philosophy saw the venue making the 2017 AFR Top 100 Restaurants list.

Every ingredient and process is carefully considered–from the churning of their own butter, using leftover vegetable skins to make vinegar, to utilising the fresh ingredients plucked from their verge garden. This impressive food philosophy saw the venue making the 2017 AFR Top 100 Restaurants list.

Native take: Stable Hands

Nestled on Bannister Street this hidden gem is a special mix of light and bright Scandinavian styling and confident menu showcasing indigenous produce. Using native ingredients such as karkalla, seablite, quandong and baby pigface (don’t worry, it’s a fleshy edible Australian native plant) you can rest assured the combination of a meal within their glossy magazine worthy interiors will be an unforgettable experience.

High flyers: Propeller

It has been a big year for Propeller, with the addition of their striking new enclosed dining room, and chef Kurt Sampson’s revamp of his unique Middle-Eastern inspired share menu. The hard work has paid off, with the bustling venue becoming recognised as a top contender on the WA culinary scene, praised by likes of The Australian’s widely respected food critic John Lethlean and food bloggers.

Place of pleasure: Habitué

Enter Habitué as a first-time diner and leave feeling like an old friend, as the warm team behind this establishment specialise in making their guests feel at home. Their outdoor areas lush with greenery are just as inviting as the service, providing the perfect spot to spend a lazy evening enjoying a vino and their wholesome Mediterranean inspired offering from the char-grill, with a side of live music.

Seaside sensation: Bib and Tucker

Perched on Leighton Beach, Bib and Tucker is a spectacular spot to sit by the Indian Ocean and catch a glorious spring sunset. Owned by former Olympian Eamon Sullivan, the swimmer has made a splash on the food scene with this beachside beauty. Headed by chef Scott Bridger, the restaurant dishes out an extensive modern Australian menu with a focus on seasonal produce cooked to perfection.

Night owl: Strange Company

Once an old wetsuit factory, this now architectural award-winning hot-spot has people of all ages flocking to the venue for not only a cocktail or fine wine, but a refined meal too. From their kitchen–running from the moment they open until midnight–comes a menu of understated bar food at its finest. Dishes are simple yet full of flavour with a strong Mediterranean influence. Top tip: Jazz on Sunday afternoons are a must.

That's amore: La Sosta

Every city needs an authentic Italian eatery for diners to get their handmade pasta or classic flavours fix and Fremantle has La Sosta. Just off the main coffee strip, and up a flight of stairs, you’ll be met with mouth-watering wafts of Italy served up in generous dishes made to family recipes. Why not enjoy some spring rays and vast menu on their spacious balcony, which pairs perfectly with an extensive wine and cocktail list–bellissimo.

Ed
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14 things you might not know about Freo

There’s always something new to discover about Freo. Are you across it all?

1. At 1 pm daily, a cannon is fired at the Round House. Guides give the lowdown on why you should ‘keep your eye on the ball’. Book in advance if you want to put your hand up to fire the cannon.

2. Fremantle Arts Centre is a cool oasis all week long with its high-ceilinged galleries and garden café. On Sundays, free music happens in the courtyard between 2 and 4pm (Oct-Mar).

3. Far from the Cappuccino Strip, Kazoomies (at the E Shed) has earned its stripes as a Trip Advisor darling with its interesting Moroccan fare. A brekkie favourite.

Little Creatures rear deck has a sand pit with enough toy tip trucks to occupy dozens of kids.

4. The WA Maritime Museum has entry by donation on the second Tuesday of the month. The WA Shipwrecks Museum is just a gold coin on any given day – not bad for the foremost museum of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

5. You can paddle around in the submerged passageways underneath the Fremantle Prison. Take the Tunnels Tour!

6. Segway Tours offer a novel mode of transport and a guided tour of Freo’s points of interest, all in one. Tours depart near the WA Shipwrecks Museum.

7. You can often spy a tall ship at the port, in the form of the sail training ship Leeuwin II. Wander along from the B Shed for a gander.

8. The Fremantle Tourist Wheel has 25,000 LEDs, and spins every 8 minutes or so – until 9 pm most nights, 10 pm on Saturdays. Hitch a ride.

9. Little Creatures rear deck has a sand pit with enough toy tip trucks to occupy dozens of kids.

10. At Clancy’s Fish Pub, Farmer Damien’s animal farm is in residence on Fridays from 4 pm and Sundays from 1 pm.

11. The deckchairs on the beach at Bathers Beach House are the only licensed beach chairs in Australia. Take a seat to claim bragging rights.

12. The Esplanade has a pool bar that cranks up in summer. Secreted upstairs in lush surrounds, there’s special access for the public. It’s open Thursday to Sunday, midday to 8 pm.

13. The pretty brick work embedded in the footpaths around town – etched and painted with blue sea ‘fossils’ – isn’t just there for looks. It follows the old shore line that existed long before Esplanade Park and the railway line came into being on reclaimed land. Follow the trail along parts of Marine Terrace, Croke Street and Phillimore Street.

14. The Fremantle story website has a bunch of self-guided walking trails that help give focus to your wandering. Choose from historic, culturally significant or arty offerings.

Ed
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10 ways to do icecream in Fremantle

Going for ice cream isn’t as simple as it used to be. Here’s how you might try it.

As a sandwich

Take a pair of choc chip or Anzac biscuits, wedge a goodly amount of ice cream between them, smooth off the edges. Voila! On-trend dessert. Just don’t try to eat it one-handed. Sample one at Piggy Food Co or Stampede at the Mantle.

Rolled

Inspired by Thai street vendors, the Rolled Ice-cream stand at the Freo Markets delivers ‘curls’ of ice cream made by pouring liquid ice cream onto a frozen surface, then rolling them into nifty tubes.

Fish and chips gelato? Yes, Kailis has it. (Don’t fret; there’s always a berries and cream chaser).

With waffles

A classic combo: you can smell the fresh waffles (and waffle cones) long before you reach Freo Ice Cream and Waffles in the Piazza. But have you seen the muffle at the Fremantle Markets? It’s a mind-bending mix of waffle, spread and filling, crafted into a show-off knobbly cone. Flavours range from Mango Sticky Rice to Banoffee Pie.

With pastry

Cronuts, donuts, churros – who knew these were ice cream’s new best friends? Bits of sugary pastry are optional extras everywhere from Gelatissimo to San Churro to Rolled Ice-cream. Go all out.

Vegan

Bland and tasteless? Nuh-uh. The coconut-based ice cream at Roho Bure is as yummy as the interior. The changing flavour menu (cheesecake, anyone?) is vegan and organic, with deluxe sauces. There’s also Coco Whip at the Fremantle Markets. It’s made from coconut water and free of dairy, lactose, refined sugar and gluten. Or try sorbet and soy-based iced treats at Tutti Frutti.

As a coffee

Espresso or ice cream – why choose? Gabriel’s Chocolate offers a twin hit with their award-winning coffee and cocoa bean ice cream. At Gelatissimo, the Cappuccino Strip flavour unites ice cream and coffee sensibilities, as does the Freo Delight at Dolce Vita. Or you can go an affogato – ice cream doused in espresso – anywhere from Ginos to La Sosta.

As a savoury snack

We’re not just talking salted caramel. We’re talking Vegemite white chocolate truffles. Or maybe fennel, rosemary and olive oil. Or miso cinnamon. These might be on the menu at Stampede at the Mantle, along with innovative sweeter offerings. Fish and chips gelato? Yes, Kailis has it. (Don’t fret; there’s always a berries and cream chaser).

Make like you’re on holiday. Lick the drips off your grin.

On a stick

La Paleta has made the popsicle cool again. This Freo-based outfit serves Mexican-inspired icy poles in interesting flavours – watermelon and rose; strawberry and hibiscus; cucumber and chili – from their mobile stand at markets and events, and a handful of freezers around town, from Kakulas Sister (Little Sister) and Manna Wholefoods.

Smashed

When you like choosing your own confectionery extras, and get some satisfaction from seeing them smashed heartily into ice cream on a frozen surface and handed back for your delectation, then you want Cold Rock.

The conventional way

You know: cone or cup. There are good reasons why this method prevails. Wander about Fishing Boat Harbour with a Baskin Robbins, or down South Terrace with something from Gelatissimo, Ben and Jerry’s or Dolce Vita. Make like you’re on holiday. Lick the drips off your grin.

Ed
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