Stefano De Blasi grew up on the Italian Riviera, between Italy and France. His new Newstead restaurant, Salt Meats Cheese, reflects a different kind of Italy – no dark wood or chequered tablecloths, just clean stone, palm trees and a grey and blue palette. It’s the company’s eighth venue, including restaurants, a cooking school, and food trucks across Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
De Blasi came to Australia in 2007 with his cousin Edoardo Perlo. Arriving first in Bondi, both worked in bars at night and surfed during the day. They quickly saw that chefs were buying the products they recognised from home at way-inflated prices. The pair’s first business idea was born, and it all snowballed from there.
“We started importing cheeses, cured meats and salts from Italy to wholesale to restaurants. But then all these people were passing by and wanted to buy our products, so we started selling to the public,” De Blasi says. “Then they’d be asking us how to use the ingredients properly, so we started the cooking school, making pizza, pasta and gnocchi. The restaurant just kind of evolved from there. We never had a business plan, everything we’ve done has been by demand.”
The lunch and dinner menu has stuck to these wining basics of pizza and pasta. Extras include sub-$10 lunch sandwiches and gnocco fritto (fried pizza dough) with Parma prosciutto and stracchino cheese (a dreamy almost-hybrid of mozzarella and cream cheese). Breakfast is more typically Australian: avo toast, eggs and a few “bowls”.
Take to the breezy alfresco area and watch Newstead go by as you snack on olives and calamari paired with an Aussie or Italian wine or beer. The drinks list also has some classic and signature cocktails, many containing house-made gelato, and a few aperitifs and digestives.
Popular Teneriffe gelato shop La Macelleria has also set up a gelato cart out front. It’s the perfect stop before taking an after-dinner walk along the river.