Walk past Glenferrie Road’s new Piccolo Panini Bar on the weekend, and you can’t help but wonder what’s going on. There are crowds of people hanging out the front, house music pumping through the speakers, and Italian-style deli sandwiches flying out of the kitchen. Is it a panini shop? Is it a house party? It’s a bit of both.

The new shop is the brainchild of best mates Damian Iaconis and Stephen Hatzikourtis and was born out of a New Year’s resolution to save up enough money to live together. The buzzy spot has a house-party energy – but one where everyone is invited. “If we don’t greet you at the door, we’ve messed up,” Hatzikourtis tells Broadsheet.

Hatzikourtis’s family has run fish’n’chips shops for as long as he can remember, and he helped his dad when the older Hatzikourtis opened The Hellenic House Project in Highett, so his focus on customer service is no surprise. “I’m the hospitality brains behind it and Damian is the actual brains behind it,” he jokes.

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If you’re heading in early, the pancetta panini with fried eggs and stracciatella – Piccolo’s take on an egg and bacon roll – is a must. From 11am, there are five paninis to choose from. They’re all inspired by the pair’s travels to Italy and, more specifically, their visit to Instagram-famous Roman focaccia spot All’Antico Vinaio. The pair aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel; they’re aiming to “do the simple things really well”, and have a bit of fun while they are at it.

At Piccolo, you’ll find fillings like house-crumbed chicken cotoletta with “secret herbs and spices”, salsa verde, rocket and pickled onions, and mortadella with stracciatella and pistachios sandwiched between Rustica South Yarra’s pillowy focaccia. But the crowd favourite? The prosciutto with fior di latte, rocket, pesto and fresh basil. Parmesan chips are a great add-on, and for something sweet there’s cannoli from small wholesaler Yummy Cannoli and a selection of Italian pastries.

The drinks fridge is stacked with Italy’s Galvanina soft drinks, in flavours including blood orange, lemon and chinotto. Plus, there are bottles of Coca-Cola, a range of Italian juices and espresso drinks.

The shop was built and designed by the pair (with the help of friends and family). Its minimalist fit-out features only the necessities – with the exception of a red neon sign that reads “No panini no party”. There are tables out the front if you’re planning on eating in, or you can always take a panini to nearby Glenferrie Oval to enjoy.

Piccolo Panini Bar
636 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn
No phone

Hours:
Mon to Fri 7am–3:30pm
Sat 8am–2pm

@piccolo.paninibar