Food and Drink

The Restaurateur Breathing Life Back into Penrith’s Dining Scene

The man behind a beloved local cafe making waves in Sydney.

phil hallani restaurateur

Penrith is not exactly a big town, but it’s not exactly small either. In recent years, it has seen a boom with apartment buildings now occupying five-acre lots and plenty of reasons for families to build a home there. Now, it’s ramping up its food game with wine bar startups and more gourmet burger joints than Vegas. You’ve also got Percy Plunkett, the local favourite, Checho’s the new Mexican taqueria, and Duck Duck Goose, a dumpling and bao bar on the main street.

Local restaurateur, Phillip Hallani is the driving force behind most of Penrith’s dining revitalisation. Over the past few years, Hallani and his team are introducing, modern, quality restaurants back into the region.

Hallani’s latest restaurant launch is Fish Fish, an elevated Fish and Chippery with all the classics of a milk bar, but taken to the next level. Interior designer, Killing Matt Woods, is the vision behind Percy Plunkett and has designed the interior of Fish Fish.

“We’re going to serve traditional fish and chips, but also some healthy dishes such as salads with grilled seafood and poke bowls,” says Hallani.

“The spot we took over actually was a Penrith institution and then 10 years ago they sold it, but it went downhill. I was looking at buying it, but then I found the site Percy Plunkett now sits in and decided to focus on that. But my cousin bought it and tried, but about a year and a half ago, he wanted to sell it. So I talked to him and said if I come on board we can make something special. I didn’t want to lose an institution, so now we’re breathing life back into it.”

We want people to be able to bring the family and walk away spending around $50 to $60, rather than $100— I want to find that balance.

Hallani is also the brains behind the buzzing new Italian restaurant, Gellafrenda (pronounced girl-a-friend-a), Percy’s Italian girlfriend next door.

“The shopping centre approached us and asked if we wanted to take over the site, and I’ve always wanted to have an Italian restaurant, so now we have Gellafrenda and some beautiful gelato next door, from Ciccone and Sons. We partnered with them to bring their iconic scoops to Penrith,” said Hallani.

The Orchard, which plans to be a restaurant, a kids playground, and all-around weekend dining and family destination is slated to open later in the year.

“This will be another big venue for Penrith. We’re also working on a quick-service restaurant, but keeping that one under the vest for now.

When we built Percy’s, we wanted to create a space for locals. Every time I wanted to go out, I had to leave Penrith, but when I became a father, I didn’t realise how much of a hassle it was to even go to Parramatta. So Percy is a place for the people,” said Hallani.

“We’re lucky here, we have Henri Marc and High St. Depot, which are, in my opinion still the best, but they are still small venues—we wanted something bigger. Especially when there are city dwellers driving to the Blue Mountains, but skipping Penrith. We need something to bring those travellers here.”

While putting Penrith back on the map, Hallani also spends his time lending a hand to other restaurateurs. He even started a podcast called Table for Two, where he interviews businesses and hospitality operators in Australia.

The podcast sees the likes of Roman Urosevski, owner of Son of a Baker, John Iazarou, one of the founders of the Coffee Club, and more, to inspire and educate budding restaurateurs looking to learn more about the business—the failures and the successes.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Food and Drink

Red Rooster Is Serving Free Chicken and Piping Hot Cash This Christmas in July

Get your early dose of festive cheer.

Red Rooster Christmas in July
Instagram / @redrooster_au

The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.

From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.

Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.

Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.

Terms and conditions apply. Visit Red Rooster’s Christmas in July to see all the deals.


Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.