Fluffy Ligurian-style focaccia, in thick slabs, isn’t hard to find in Melbourne’s sandwich scene. But at focacceria Zita’s, owners Sara Pestarino and Riccardo Guglietti offer a style less common in Australia. Pestarino is from Genoa, Italy, a region known for flat leavened bread. Its most famous iteration is focaccia Genovese, a soft, thin bread typically studded with olives. Guglietti, on the other hand, is from Rome, where focaccia comes thicker, and usually sliced in half and stuffed with cured meats.

At Zita’s, you’ll find the Genovese-style olive focaccia served by the slice, alongside a simpler version with no toppings and another laced with squacquerone cheese (a soft crumbly cheese from the Emilia-Romagna region). The recipe is based upon one Pestarino learned from her grandmother, for whom the shop is named.

The filled focaccias are fermented for up to 38 hours, creating a light, crisp finish that stands up to fillings like mortadella and ’nduja, stracciatella and squid or saucy eggplant parmigiana. Sandwiches includes Nonna’s Favourite, a combo of capers, arrosto (roast) sauce and vitello tonnato (thinly sliced veal); and the Roman Empire, a rich number piled with stracciatella, artichoke sauce, mortadella and pistachios.

With room for 24 inside and out and a queue that often gathers outside, most customers order takeaway. But there is a spritz menu for those looking to linger in the sunny window or out the front under a canary-yellow-and-white-striped umbrella. Choose from options like a bright berry spritz made with house-made strawberry syrup, vodka and elderflower and a limoncello spritz made with Tommy’s Booze.

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Updated: January 15th, 2024

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