Mister Paganini has been living his independent life, cooking crowd-pleasing Italian food for South Brisbane since 2015. But now it’s time for his Nonna to move in out back.
Nonna’s Deli opened earlier this week on Grey Street. The cafe is Olé Group’s (Mister Paganini, Olé, Mucho Mexicano, Downtown Istanbul) clever response to the often-tricky South Brisbane tenancies that run from Grey Street through to Little Stanley Street.
Italian restaurant Mister Paganini pumps on its South Bank side but struggled to pull people through the door on Grey Street. The answer was to give the strip what it needed: a cafe and deli serving Italian comfort food. It’s a homey and approachable al fresco space, hung with draping plants and bowler hats recognisable from Paganini.
“Back home, the Italian culture when you go and visit your nonna, the first question she will ask is, ‘Did you eat?’ Every time,” says Lexy Irsara, who was drafted from Sydney to manage the venue. “Even if you have eaten she will feed you more and more. That’s the nonna style.”
The cafe’s menu is a reliable stand-in for your grandmother. It leans on classics such as bacon-and-egg rolls, corn fritters with smoky tomato relish and avocado toast. Piadinas (Italian flatbread sandwiches) are rammed with prosciutto, grilled eggplant and flaky mozzarella. Nothing is over $12, so it’s perfect for a guilt-free grab-and-go lunch.
You can enjoy it with an Italian-inspired milkshake, with Nutella, tiramisu and cookie crumble all present and accounted for. The shakes are syrup-free, made on malt or strawberry coulis, for example. There are also frappes, smoothies and house-made cold-pressed juices.