Nothing says Italian like a long, leisurely Sunday lunch.
Ok, perhaps a kilo of ricotta and a tonne of Nutella-filled treats… Nonetheless, Paesanella Cafe and Food Emporium has it all.
Paesanella is where the locals gather. Last weekend we sat sandwiched between an extended family celebrating a birthday over a table of pizzas, and a retiree contentedly working away at a huge bowl of Spaghetti alla Marinara. We felt right at home.
Producing mozzarella and ricotta for more than half a century, this long-standing Sydney institution is as unassuming as its founder – Umberto Somma. Umberto arrived in Australia from Napoli in 1956 and with him brought the traditions of cheese making.
The cafe is cosy, with several tables scattered across a light and breezy area leading onto an outdoor terrace. On Sunday, the Italian waitstaff busily served happy customers, while the resident pizza chef cooked up a storm at the outdoor brick oven.
Earlier that morning our first pit stop was a necessary stroll around the Marrickville Markets. Coffees in hand, we managed to resist the temptations of the gourmet food stalls, sticking strictly to purchasing fresh veggies for the week ahead. We were saving ourselves for the feast to come.
The feast didn’t disappoint. The star shaped, open-calzone was a real treat with each corner oozing with creamy ricotta and filled with ham. Not featured on the regular menu, Paesanella Cafe has a specials board with rotating pizzas and pastas depending on the fresh produce available.
Next we tried one of the more traditional pizza offerings – the Capricciosa – with fior di latte, ham, mushrooms, artichokes and black olives ($22). If it’s authentic quality pizza you are after, check out Paesanella on a Wednesday night when they offer all-you-can-eat-pizza for $20 per person. The Patata pizza with rosemary potatoes and sausage is always a Wednesday winner.
Finally, we couldn’t leave without trying one of Paesanella Cafe’s famous platters and decided to go all out with their name sake platter for two ($60). Taking up the entire table, the platter included arancini, lightly fried calamari, fried ricotta and caprese salad. For those after something less extravagant, the cafe also offers a Mixed Antipasto ($30) with an assortment of cold meats or the Antipasto Italia ($35) with burrata, fried pizza dough, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and grilled vegetables.
We didn’t have room for dessert but the table next door were digging into the home-made tiramisu and ricotta cake. Both use ingredients made on-site and their empty plates said it all.
After lunch we ventured upstairs to Paesanella’s Food Emporium. Buckets of cheese line every wall of the shop, shelved in floor-to-ceiling fridges. Everything from freshly made buffalo mozzarella to 24-month aged parmesan imported from Italy is on offer.
Compared to other similarly styled ‘gourmet’ delis, the prices are very reasonable. Don’t leave without adding the ‘hot ricotta’ to your basket. Hidden at the end of the shop and wrapped in a plastic bag, this ricotta is made fresh every morning and is still warm. It’s dangerously good, particularly when coupled with fresh bread and pastry which Paesanella Emporium also stocks.
Paesanella Cafe and Food Emporium
150-152 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204
02 9519 6181
Cafe: Mon-Tue: 7am -7pm, Wed-Sat 7am-10pm, Sun 7am-4pm
Food Emporium: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm, Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 7am-4pm