Open since 1903, Cicerello's is a Freo icon that also prides itself as Western Australia's best seafood eatery. Located at the waterfront area around the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour, It is a short walk from a beer at the famous Little Creatures Brewery and a ride on the Fremantle Ferris Wheel.
I passed the crowded restaurant with an indoor dining and outdoor floating section when visiting Kailis' Fish Market Cafeat noon. Having had a so-so lunch experience at Kailis, I was determined to make the best of my seafood forage in Freo before heading back to Pensione Hotel in Perth.
I decided to return to Cicerello's in the evening. The early dinner crowd was thin and seats were aplenty indoors and on the broadwalk. Stepping into this waterside eatery was like a trip to the cafeteria of a Melbourne or Sydney Aquarium. There were several aquariums with various species of marine life to entertain adults and kids as they munched away or queued to order. I was given a buzzer for my order of an upmarket fish and chips, grilled sardines and fried white bait. Small plastic tubs of sauces were an extra AUD1.50 each.
Despite the quieter early weekday evening, the orders took a good 30 mins, by which truck loads of visitors started to pack the place and the restaurant was buzzing. I sat just outside the restaurant which offered excellent night views of the Ferris Wheel and harbour without the pesky sea gulls.
The upmarket fish and chips served on a ceramic plate was crispy golden on the outside and still moist on the inside but it tasted slightly better than the bland frozen fish in Kailis. Unfortunately it falls short of the streetside fish and chips in Manly or even Alexandra House in landlocked Hamilton.
I don't expect the fried white bait to be of similar standard to Merchant's in the InterContinental in Melbourne but it was unappertising skinny dried fried fish. The savior was the grilled sardines dressed with herbs and balsamic vinegar. They were good sized and juicy.
With the combined quality and taste of all 3 dishes, I could not fathom how and why Cicerello's had the best fish and chips in Western Australia. It was just fried fish and frozen ones too. The whole place felt more like a tourist attraction that no locals would visit, except probably when they have out of town guests. In addition, the restaurant did not accept credit cards or EFTPOS so fortunately I had ample cash on me.