Walking into Sal’s Pasta Deli feels like setting foot in a traditional pastificio (pasta shop) in Florence. Owner Paul “Sal” Salmeri is at the back rolling, cutting and filling fresh pasta for customers as they walk in off the street.
“We have no menu, we cook what is in season, what’s good on that day and what the weather is like,” Salmeri tells Broadsheet. “The philosophy of Italian cuisine is to cook freely and within the season.”
Salmeri learned to make pasta at culinary school Apicius in Florence, when he was 24, and then spent eight years cooking throughout Italy. He followed with a years-long stint at The River Cafe in London, where he worked exclusively on pasta.
“When you’re making fresh pasta for 200 customers every service, you have to learn to make it quick and precise,” says Salmeri. “I learnt about Italian food in Italy, but I learnt how to cook in London. That’s where I really enjoyed making fresh pasta.”
In his first year of culinary school, Salmeri created a business plan for a fresh pasta shop and deli. When he saw an old empty bakery on Napoleon Street in Cottesloe, he dug-up the 15-year-old plan and ran with it, opening Sal’s Pasta Deli in 2018.
Now, he’s expanded south of the river, opening a second site among an unassuming row of shops in Applecross last month. While the original Cottesloe site offers dine-in lunch, the new store is retail-only.
“The Cottesloe space is big enough to grow in and we’re comfortable with the customer service we have there. By just doing a retail space in Applecross we can maintain the production of quality and still offer the same experience, but in a different suburb.”
Fresh pastas are made daily and include cappelletti, tortellini, ravioli, rigatoni, agnolotti, pappardelle, fettuccine, gnudi and casarecce. “Each region has a million different names and different shapes. It’s very region-specific with the filling, so I’ll pick a shape and filling from a region and we work with that and we also do gluten-free,” he says. “We have a separate machine at Cottesloe that we use for gluten-free, with a special flour we get from Italy.”
All the fresh pasta is laid out in display cases, as is a selection of cured meats from Torre Butchers, cheeses (including burrata, mozzarella and stracciatella) from La Delizia Latticini, eggs from Margaret River and house-made continental rolls.
There’s also ready-made lasagnes to take home, fresh vegetables, loaves of bread from North Street Store and pasta sauces, plus shelves lined with tinned fish, jars of olives, oils, flours, biscotti and more.
“Think of Applecross as a small bakery or a butcher shop,” he continues. “I want people to cook and … to understand where the food comes from. And I want to make cooking easy for people.”
Sal’s Pasta Deli
32 Ardross Street, Applecross
Tue to Sat 9am–5.30pm
Sun & Mon closed
hours could change