La Perla is one of a growing number of new wine bars Camberwell and its surround are enjoying thanks to liquor law changes. With a snappy wine list, authentic wood-fired pizzas and DJ sets, it’s making a splash in all the right ways.
Location: 625 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell, VIC 3124 Ph: (03) 9654 6526
You might not be aware of it, but there’s a quiet revolution sweeping across the sedate Melbourne suburbs of Camberwell, Glen Iris and Ashburton.
Once part of a ‘dry zone’ that had kept bars, pubs and nightclubs largely out of the area, the liquor licensing laws have recently changed. And with this relaxation on the sale of alcohol, a rash of wine bars, breweries and new eateries has cropped up.
One such new venture is La Perla. A beacon of warm yellow lighting, sitting at the bottom of Camberwell Rd in Camberwell, within kissing distance of Glen Iris.
La Perla has taken over a site which previously hosted a run of cafes. It initially opened at the end of 2021 as a bar, serving wine, cocktails and snacky bar food. And I want to give a quick shout out to the wonderful Carta di Musica – wafer thin slivers of bread with a lush curd. However, the introduction of a wood-fired pizza oven has allowed the full vision of this chic little establishment take shape.
Now the Victorian-themed Cheese board, Cured Meat plate and Sides, such as the vivid Beetroot Salad, Roasted beets, Walnut, Rocket, and Stracciatella, have competition.
Whilst these very enjoyable options are available all day, they are joined from 5.30 – 9.30pm by a handful of thoughtfully devised pizzas.
So let’s talk about these pizzas. I have to say that my Italian friends would be proud as at La Perla, it’s all about the base. Pillowy at the edges, yet thin and light under the toppings and dappled with tasty scorch bubbles. And yummy. The dough has flavour.
Don’t come to La Perla if you want the bland, limp pizza bases that are common in so many franchise pizzerias.
Currently, the La Perla menu features 5 main-stay offerings. The Spicy Ndjua, Sugo, Onion & Scamorza is suitably fiery. Despite that, I had pizza-envy the first time I visited when one of my companions ordered the Pumpkin, Stracciatella, Pine-nuts & Fried Sage.
Ever toyed with the idea of rustling up your own pizzas from scratch at home? Well, with modern Pizza Ovens you can turn out a crisp-based pizza with ease. Click here for more information and prices.
Now pumpkin and I are not generally the best of friends – I blame a childhood spent in Britain. However, the combo of pumpkin puree, crispy sage, mellow pine nuts and creamy cheese turned this squash denier into a convert.
A second evening at La Perla saw a further pizza option on the menu. This time I chose the Special – a delicious marriage of Mortadella, Ricotta and Mushroom. My partner and I had agreed to go halves on our food when we ordered – as is our custom.
Suffice to say that after my first slice I was trying to renege on our long-standing agreement!
Luckily, the team at La Perla care just as much about their libations as they do their pizza dough.
Kieran Hoop (Denton Wine Bar alumni) is usually manning the bar and, thankfully, he knows how to mix a cocktail. The drinks list currently features 7 creations. The Casino (the ‘Camberwell Speciality’) is a zesty blend of Gin, Lemon & Marachino.
Similarly refreshing, the Montenegro Spritz – Montenegro, Prosecco, Orange & Soda – had me hoping that the Italian love of Amaros was finally going to take off in Australia.
Whilst we are dreaming of Italy, the wine list is heavy with Italian varietals with a smattering of local bottles.
Beer drinkers are also covered with 3 on tap and a number of bottled offerings. And if none of the above does it for you, there are also non-alcoholic options, including mocktails.
The Cocktail Club
La Perla has a major drawcard that it first played a few weeks back. It’s ‘Cocktail Club’.
On Friday evenings, they are shaking up concoctions between 9pm and 1am, all accompanied by a DJ set.
The idea is to have guest DJs each week. You can check their Insta for info on who is coming up.
Finally, I feel it’s worth mentioning that my first visit was on a drab Wednesday evening. My friends and I had enjoyed our evening and were about to leave, when a group of 3 men in their 30s came in, sat up at the bar and ordered a round of drinks.
At 9.15 on a Wednesday night. In the dead end of Camberwell.
With spots like La Perla opening up, maybe this end of Camberwell isn’t so dead after all.
Beginning in last September, La Perla is adding lunchtime paninis to it’s menu.
Great news if you’re in the area.