Rifo’s is something of a flag bearer for the regeneration of the Maylands strip. When Rifo’s first opened as something of a trendy, upmarket café taking the place of the long established old style Rifici’s coffee shop (and liquor store) some years ago now, it was a novelty in a generally rundown, shabby and unwelcoming area. How things have changed. The rebuild of the strip has resulted in a host of good spots to eat and drink – Chapels, Swallow Bar, Mrs S – and Rifo’s remains up the top of the street on Guildford Road; a landmark entry point to the places down the road.
Lady FWO was coming home from a meeting yesterday and at the last moment decided to drop in for lunch. She was able to get parking close by and found herself in a charming, busy café. The place is well fitted out, what once may have been called Mt Lawley style, but now firmly Maylands, and with friendly, chatty waiters; obviously popular, a lot of customers sitting around sipping coffee, eating, reading the paper; it has a nice buzz to it.
The menu has an Italian influence and ranges across the basics such as pasta (lasagne, marinara, cacciatore) risotto (seafood and saffron), pizza (portofino, diavola, vegetarian), and burgers as well as more substantial dishes including chilli mussels, grilled steak, chicken parmigiana and braised lamb shanks.
However, bearing in mind the impending nuptials of our daughter and Lady FWO’s intention to wear a certain dress she was mindful to eat with an eye on the kilojoules. So she concentrated on the salads on offer – she passed on the fried calamari salad and on the Caesar and plumped for the pear, pistachio and gorgonzola. Showing even more restraint she went for a lemon lime and bitters in preference to a glass of wine – Rifo’s is licenced.
A well presented plate came to the table – a lot of rocket and prosciutto scattered with slices of pear, creamy cheese, pistachios and drizzled with a dressing of balsamic. The leaves were fresh and light, the pear crisp, sweet and crunchy; the gorgonzola added a salty, creamy note, while the nuts another crunchy dimension. The dressing was complementary, not overpowering but adding a sweet, rich, acidic tone to the dish. It was a light, refreshing, and healthy, lunch – Lady FWO could not finish it all but she went away in the knowledge that she had eaten well and the dress is still well within her sights.
Rifo’s is an inviting little cafe; it serves simple but well cooked food, and in generous portions. It is comfortable, laid back and welcoming. The food is solid, middle of the road Italian style, not pushing any boundaries but aimed squarely at their regulars who have been coming along for years. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if you are looking for a pleasant meal in nice surroundings, not expecting any particular culinary flair, it is worth your while to drop in.