The best Italian providores in Sydney
What to buy: San Daniele proscuttio
Bringing Italian meats to Australia is trickier than you think. According to Daniel Iannello from family-owned, 10-year-old Redfern Italian deli Delizie di Casa, products need to be aged for at least 400 days before they make it through customs. That’s why their Prosciutto San Daniele, which is one of the few products that meets those requirements, is one of their best sellers.
What to buy: biscotti
There are more types of biscotti than regions in Italy, and Pasticceria Papa does a great job showcasing them in their Haberfield shop. From amaretti to Nutella-filled Baci di Dama (dame’s kisses), lemon and almond biscotti and even Sambuca and almond pick-me-ups, walking into Papa’s is like stopping by your nonna’s house, in that you’ll probably leave five kilos heavier. Prices vary depending on weight, but you can get a pretty decent idea of the bakery’s best work with a box of five ($9).
What to buy: truffle cream
The Pasta Emilia team make all their certified organic pastas and sauces in the kitchen connected to their trattoria-like Surry Hills restaurant. Pasta Emilia’s truffle cream sauce ($13), which they make with fine mushrooms and features a surprising spicy kick, is their most popular product among their pasta-craving clientele. You can eat in, or get it from the deli downstairs to take home for round two. Pair it with their house-made tortelli, filled pasta that comes in ten different flavours. We recommend matching the truffle cream with the pumpkin and mostarda ($19.5) or beetroot and chevre ($23) tortelli.
What to buy: all the cheeses
Head here for the kind of fresh fruit and veggies that belong in a Sicilian postcard. There are floor-to-ceiling shelves fit to bursting with preserves, condiments, spices and dry goods, and in the centre of the store is a veritable cornucopia of fresh produce, laid out in baskets, boxes, trays and barrels. Load up on spicy sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and air-freighted Buffalo mozzarella for the perfect Calabrese salad or peruse the vast selection in the dedicated cheese room for a cheese plate fit for a king.
What to buy: truffles
Angelo Zanetti’s deli follows a family tradition started by his parents in 1957, when they started a fruit and veg shop so that Italian immigrants could get their favourite products from their homeland. Zanetti sells cheeses, juices, biscotti and pasta from all over Italy, but it prides itself of his Alba truffles, a delicacy harvested from Northern Italy.
For Italian bakers, butter is the enemy. You need it, but you shouldn’t taste it: that’s what differentiates real Italian pastries from mass-produced croissants. Enter Pasticceria Tamborrino. This bakery was opened in 2002 in Five-Dock by husband and wife Vincenzo and Cristina Tamborrino. They are both pastry chefs who spent more than 15 years perfecting their craft in Rome before moving to Sydney. Try their assortment of Southern Italian pastries, like the baba’ (small yeast cakes saturated in syrup made with rum and filled with whipped cream), lobster tail (a fragrant pastry filled with Chantilly cream) or the light yet indulgent ricotta-filled sfogliatelle.
What to buy: smoked mozarella
Formaggi Ocello has been open since 2009, and was born after a Euro trip inspired couple Carmelo and Sogna Ocello to import the finest and rarest Italian cheeses they could convince customs to let into the country. Since then, the couple have introduced many lesser known Italian cheeses to the Australian market, like the Robiola di Capra and mixed milk Robiola. Although Ocello sells over 200 cheeses, their smoked mozzarella ($18) is the shop’s real treat, a rarity even in most Italian regions. Coated in a soft, smoked shell, the mozzarella’s creamy filling is worth the slightly hefty price tag.
Deli Mercato’s olives are the right blend of Italian origins and Australian hard work. Owner Nancy Rafanaci Murdica brings them to Sydney all the way from Gaeta, in the central Italian region of Latio, near Rome, and then marinates them in the deli. If it’s not olives that you’re after, Deli Mercato offers one of Sydney’s most comprehensive displays of Italian produce in Australia, from tuna to Panettone, plus famous biscotti brands like Mulino Bianco. They even stock Italian cleaning products. Why? Because, in Nancy’s words, ‘people need to feel at home even when they’re on the other side of the world and their favourite brands from back home play a huge part in achieving that’.
These guys were one of the first pioneers to bring Italian cheeses to Australia – they’ve been making traditional mozzarella in their Marrickville-based shop since 1958. Umberto Somma and his wife Teresa originally opened Paesanella, and sons Joseph and Max now carry on the shop’s legacy. It’s where you go for quality bocconcini, cherry bocconcini, fior di latte, burrata, mascarpone and ricotta, all made in the Marrickville deli. Their buffalo mozzarella is probably the best and cheapest you can find in Sydney ($6 a round), while their fresco cheese ($13.50) is a healthy, less salty alternative to haloumi that tastes just as good pan-fried.
Owner Andrea Pinna came to Sydney via Cagliari 16 years ago, intrigued by the surfing life, but he wasn’t about to lose the flavours of home while he was here. That’s why most of Sapori di Sardegna’s products are imported from the Italian island of Sardinia, the land of ancient bent olive trees, strong-flavoured cheeses and carasau, a crisp flat bread seasoned with oil, salt and rosemary. Sydney-siders of Italian origin flock here over the weekend to fill their pantry with bottles of San Giuliano olive oil (it’s made in the town of Alghero and usually available only in Sardinia), authentic fregola (hard Sardinian couscous) and recharge with an espresso made with Karalis Coffee.
Want more Italian?
Italian food is the unofficial second cuisine of Sydney (the first being Thai). Many of the city's best fine dining and casual eateries have heavily Italian influenced menues, and while good pizzerias and dirt-cheap red sauces places are harder to find than the poshest stuff, there are still spades of options to choose from. We've picked our favourites from every style, so no matter what mood you're in, there's something here for you.