Husband and wife team Joe and Michelle Rechichi have run the Mount Lawley franchise of pizza chain Crust for eight years. Their new venture, Joey Zaza’s, is more personal. It combines their names (Michelle’s maiden name is Xa, pronounced “Za”) and family recipes to bring an American-Italian-style sandwich bar to the foyer of an office block on St George’s Terrace. It also references Joey Zasa, a character from The Godfather Part III – hence the tag line, “Sandwiches you can’t refuse.”

“We went to New York on our honeymoon and ate our way through [it],” Michelle says. “A lot of our inspiration … comes from America.”

The bright yellow kiosk, formerly a Caffissimo, stands out on the strip. It’s small, but punches well above its weight with a menu of Italian- and Asian-inspired subs. Joe’s family hails from Calabria in southern Italy and Michelle has Chinese and Vietnamese heritage.

There’s the Classic Conti (layers of cold meats, cheese, roasted peppers, marinated eggplant and artichoke), a take on a Philly cheesesteak (with thinly sliced beef, provolone cheese, roasted peppers, caramelised onion and mustard), and the banh mi-inspired Razzle Dazzle Pork Crackle filled with slow-roasted porchetta, house pickles, chilli and crackle. There are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, too.

Signature Italian subs include Nonna’s Famous Meatballs and the Mean Boss Parma. The integral Napoli sauce is cooked for five hours (an Instagram post shows Joe’s family deep in sauce day) and the parmas are crumbed by hand.

“What I like about our parmas is, they’re not greasy,” Michelle says. “I find with other parmas, you can see the different layers. The mozzarella cheese falls off, and you can taste the acidity in the sauce because it’s not cooked for long enough.”

Joe’s nonna makes the meatballs and personally rolled 600 in opening week. “It takes hours to handroll hundreds of meatballs, but the end result speaks for itself,” Joe says.

Joe’s nonna isn’t the only local supplier. The ciabatta and Calabrese panini (Italian sourdough dusted with semolina) come from Fremantle baker Il Panino, porchetta and cold meats are from Princi, and sweet treats such as bombolini (Italian doughnuts) and brownies are made at Lorenzo’s Kitchen in Ellenbrook. Coffee is from Dimattina.

All the sandwiches are priced between $12 and $14 and made to order. “People in the city shouldn’t have to settle for sandwiches behind the cabinet,” Michelle says.

Joey Zaza’s
45 St Georges Terrace, Perth
Mon to Fri 7am–3pm