The Night I Met Mario at Gargano in Claremont
He came up and put his arms around me and said “how about this one for a photo?” in his Italian accent!
Our Belgian friends who now live in Perth often talk about how they miss the ambience of European restaurants, where a night out for dinner entails going to a restaurant where conversations go all night until closing time, and there is no hurry of the staff to kick you out because they want to go home. The one thing they miss the most is the hospitality of the owner who attends to the patrons, works in the kitchen and sits down to have a drink and a chat with his guests. In my opinion that’s a true dining experience. It’s like an invitation into their home.
Well, that was our recent experience at Gargano in Claremont. Rupert had a business dinner meeting there a while back and just loved it. We were at a loose end on a Saturday night.
You know those nights where you know you want to go out but can’t quite decide where you actually want to go.
Rupert asked me where I wanted to go to which I responded “Somewhere nice!” I’m often at hawker style eateries, so it’s nice to go somewhere different with an ambience that is more relaxed and laid back, where there is attention to the decor, the service, the presentation of each dish and even the serving of the meal.
The cabinet in the corner housed the crockery and cutlery with a wooden dessert trolley that was parked close by, not only to the cabinet but to our table. Very dangerous! I love my desserts…… I did suggest to Rupert that we have our dessert first before our meal. For some strange reason he didn’t quite agree, although I noted there was hesitation in his response.
So Who’s Mario?
Let me introduce to you Mario Gorgoglione, the restaurateur and lovely Italian man who served us and checked to make sure that was all ok and we had everything we needed. He was the type of restaurateur that our Belgian friends had described that they missed from European culinary experiences.
It was evident from the moment we stepped foot into Gargano that customer service and customer experience is of the highest priority to him and his staff. The friendliness of the staff made it fun to be eating there. And I like fun!
We decided that because we weren’t overly hungry that we would share some entrees (kind of like having tapas I guess). The older Filipino waiter was most helpful with our selection of dishes. His demeanor, behaviour, hand gestures and way of communicating in his interactions one would naturally assume that he had been adopted by an Italian family. His recommendations suited our appetite perfectly.
We began with a thin crusted pizza with tomato paste and cheese (not JUST pizza with tomato paste and cheese) Of course you can imagine how simple yet very aromatic and delicious it tasted, because it was authentically Italian. I was very pleasantly surprised. This was accompanied with fried Italian sausages.
When this was initially suggested to us, I reluctantly agreed (but thought to myself that I can’t be having the same thing all the time at each Italian restaurant I go to, I have to try something different).
Next on the menu was an entrée serve of scallops and field mushrooms with parmesan cheese.
All this was enough for us. Our taste buds were very satisfied.
Rupert was making those dinner noises like in the movie “When Harry Met Sally” ….well maybe not to that extreme but suffice to say his eyes rolled back, he was salivating and making some “oh this is good” noise.
Leather Bound Menu
Apart from the other aspects of our dining experience here at Gargano, I was most impressed with the soft leather-bound menu with the family crest or shield (I am assuming) embossed into it.
Upon opening the menu there was a page and map about the location of Gargano in Italy, and little bit about its history. You just knew from the feel of the quality of the menu that dinner was going to be of the same quality and standard.
Still Eyeing off the Dessert Trolley
I couldn’t help but think about dessert the entire time I was eating my meal . Well, maybe not the entire time, ….some of the time. Seriously, when the trolley, complete with exquisite desert is being pushed past your table at eye level how could you not look at it and not have your mouth water?
Much to my delight we could have a sample of whatever we wanted on the trolley on my plate to share.
As you can see, that’s exactly what we did!
Indulging in Lemon Liqueur
Unfortunately, due to my Asian heritage and genetics I am unable to consume and enjoy the taste of alcohol. Well, at least I think it’s due to that. So, anyway when they brought the complimentary lemon liqueur to our table in frosted glasses I was most disappointed.
I did have myself a little sip, but that was already too much for me! It went straight to my head ….and Whoa!!!!
Of course Rupert, had mine and didn’t complain.
Ending the evening with a complimentary plate of biscotti and liqueur truffles.
Dining at Gargano was more than just “nice”!
The evening ended with a friendly handshake with Mario , with all of us knowing that we would be returning soon and telling all our friends of our “nice” dining experience at Gargano in Claremont.