Julio’s Italian Welcomes New Chef To Reclaim Best Restaurant Title

Julio's Italian in West Perth
Julio’s launches a fresh menu under new executive chef, Scott Solomon, to reclaim title as one of Perth’s best Italian restaurants.

Julio’s Italian Welcomes New Chef To Reclaim Best Restaurant Title

Julio’s launches a fresh menu under new executive chef, Scott Solomon, to reclaim title as one of Perth’s best Italian restaurants.
Julio's Italian in West Perth
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Holiday Inn West Perth’s cosy, all-day Italian restaurant sits pretty inside a charming, exposed brick space — the former residence of menswear moguls, the Walsh family. Perched conveniently on Hay Street, merely a stone’s throw from the CBD and Kings Park, the 1902 heritage-listed building has been meticulously renovated, all while honouring its rich historical tapestry.

Where history and good food collide

Interior of Julio's Italian in West Perth
Credit: Alexandra Casey

For the past 30 years, Julio’s has been slinging pasta and antipasto. In its heyday, the fine dining establishment oscillated among the crème de la crème of Perth’s Italian scene. At this time, the restaurant was the epitome of bustling, consistently packed with business luncher’s, date nighter’s, and celebrities alike. Bono, Lady Gaga, and Beyonce were among the rich and famous who walked through its doors.

The current goal — according to the establishment’s new, high-profile Executive Chef Scott Solomon — is to restore that title. To become, once again, synonymous with the best Italian in Perth. “We want Julio’s to be back where it was, one of the best restaurants in Perth. A welcoming and approachable restaurant with high-quality, local produce, and friendly service,” Solomon said.

New executive chef heads up Julio’s

Julio's Italian in West Perth
Credit: Alexandra Casey

With more than 20 years of experience up his sleeve, Solomon is the new executive chef at Julio’s. The self-confessed culinary wizard was born and bred in Perth, and underwent his apprenticeship in Melbourne where he stayed for 10 years before moving overseas. For a decade, he worked under the capable eye of English chef, author, and former restaurateur, Jamie Oliver. So, it’s safe to say that the West Perth institution is in good hands.

“I grew up incredibly poor with a single mum who cooked all of our meals. Cooking was based around necessity and what we could get for cheap. It intrigued me how she could take a basic ingredient and turn it into a delicious meal. As a child, chemical reactions, learning processes, and substitutes for ingredients fascinated me — it still does. From about six years old, I was making dinner with her. I thought that if I can enjoy this so much, why not make a career out of it,” Solomon said.

According to Solomon, much of his culinary influence comes from Jamie, after working in his restaurants in the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Bali.

“Jamie taught me restraint; his food is very uncomplicated. He focuses on ingredients and flavours — you don’t need to have 100 things on the plate. Most Italian meals will have three or four ingredients,” he said.

Wood fired pizza at Julio's Italian in West Perth
Credit: Alexandra Casey

“Through Jamie, I grew to love Italian food. All of his restaurants incorporated fresh daily pasta and focaccia. We would ferment it during the day, pop it in the oven at four, and it would be on tables at five.”

But when it comes to the reason why Solomon decided to take the role as the new executive chef, there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

“Julio’s has always been one of my bucket list places to work. I’m a local, but my dad actually used to have his corporate business lunches and functions here. The job came up and I told management I would be aggressively taking the job,” he said with a laugh.

“It’s a beautiful restaurant and the potential is so great. We’ve already started the hand-stretched daily woodfired pizza up again and doubled our numbers. Our new winter menu is also looking fantastic.”

“I’ve worked with a lot of Italians and had some really great people teach me to cook. I’m a produce-based chef so Italian cuisine allows me to focus on the produce, core flavours, and seasonality. I think when a menu describes something, we should enjoy that flavour.”

Brand-new winter menu

Executive Chef Scott Solomon at Julio's Italian in West Perth
Credit: Alexandra Casey

Solomon is also the brains behind the restaurant’s sparkling new Italian menu which launched on Thursday, June 13th and focuses on local produce and plant-based food.

“I’m a vegan and vegetarian, so that frame of mind has inspired some of the dishes. Dietaries are a big part of the modern dining experience so it’s important to have an inclusive menu,” Solomon said. 

Locality is also central to the menu, with the implementation of predominantly West Australian ingredients. Think potatoes and truffles from Manjimup, olive oil and free-range eggs from Albany, and pears from Donnybrook. The majority of the seafood is from Shark Bay and the only imported goods are cured Italian meats.

“In terms of signature dishes, you can expect an extensive cut-to-order salumi menu, hand-made pappardelle with Dardanup lamb ragu, linguine with Shark Bay prawns, roasted eggplant with cauliflower, Tuscan beans, and fermented chilli gremolata,” he said.

Panacotta dessert at Julio's Italian in West Perth
Credit: Alexandra Casey

“We try to make everything from scratch. There is complimentary focaccia for guests, paired with a reshaped iteration of my Nonna’s minestrone. Plus, our 48-hour fermented pizza dough, and hand-cut pasta. Slow food tastes better. Even the simplest things need time. If you follow the process, you get results. If you try to skip things, you won’t get anything.”

You also won’t be able to leave without trying one of the perfectly curated desserts, including the likes of fig and date pudding, with salted caramel and gelato, tiramisu pavlova with orange mascarpone, espresso gelato and dark chocolate, and lemon panna cotta with wood-fired pears and macadamia shortbread.

Along with the new menu direction, will be a redesign of the wine list which will be curated by the new venue manager.

This article was created in partnership with Holiday Inn West Perth.
Featured image: Alexandra Casey