In March this year, family-owned supermarket group Romeo’s opened Locali by Romeo’s, a high-end Harrods-style food hall in a George Street office tower. The restaurant-retail hybrid was a collaboration between Romeo’s director Joseph Romeo and Sydney chef Orazio D’Elia (Matteo Downtown and Double Bay), and has been a hit with Sydney’s CBD workers.
One month on, and Romeo and D’Elia have opened a second joint venture: a sprawling grocery store and food hall in the heritage-rich Locomotive Workshops of the burgeoning South Eveleigh precinct, right next to Redfern Station. The launch of the multifaceted marketplace marks the next step in South Eveleigh’s evolution; the recent launch of groundbreaking bar Re– from renowned bartender Matt Whiley and the upcoming opening of a casual diner by Kylie Kwong, and more, are transitioning the area from a purpose-built corporate hub into a dining destination.
Alongside Romeo’s classic grocery and deli selection, the new food hall is home to a wood-fired pizzeria, a sushi counter, an extensive sandwich and salad bar, and a rotisserie serving hot pork and beef rolls, as well as roasted veggies.
“We want customers to get the same quality and experience that they’d get going to a restaurant, but with the ease of it being all in one place – just across from the office,” Romeo tells Broadsheet. Once the South Eveleigh precinct is complete it will house more than 18,000 office workers.
It was over a wine-fuelled dinner that D’Elia and Romeo first began to conceptualise what their second store would look like, so it’s fitting that the food hall has both ready-to-eat pizza (cooked on-site by chefs personally trained by D’Elia) and a cool room filled with wine selected by the two.
“I’m biased towards my roots, so we stock a lot of wine from South Australia,” Adelaide-born Romeo says. “And Orazio is responsible for these Italian wines, but we stock a lot of wine from New South Wales too – we try to support local businesses as much as we can.”
That focus on local produce also applies to everything from an on-site flower market curated by Sydney-based florists to the walk-in cheese room, stocked with award-winning fromage from NSW dairies.
“Orazio took me to this dairy at four in the morning just so we could taste the cheese fresh,” Romeo explains. “We stock a range of international cheeses too, but if we can buy local, we will.”
The aim is for this varied, European-inspired food hall to become a one-stop-shop for people working and living in the area. Alongside the handmade sushi, a fishmonger, rotisserie-roasted chicken and chips, and general supermarket fare, the fridges and shelves are stocked with gourmet products curated in consultation with D’Elia.
While the layout of the space is as you’d expect from a supermarket – fresh produce aisles are bordered by an entire aisle of health food, reflecting Romeo’s health focus –the design isn’t your typical white floors and strip lighting. Occupying one section of the heritage-listed Locomotive Workshop, the supermarket floor is artfully disrupted by heritage machinery, an echo of the building’s past as one of Sydney’s largest railway workshops.
Shoppers can park for free in the nearby 2 Central Avenue building and get to the market via a subterranean travelator. LED screens in the 20-metre-long tunnel tell the story of the Eveleigh area, from before human occupation, through to becoming the heart of Australia’s railway network.
Romeo’s Food Hall IGA
Locomotive Workshop Bays 3–4a 2 Locomotive Street, Eveleigh