Now that the end of the year is creeping up on us, it seems like there’s an endless array of parties and entertaining to do. It helps if you know where you can stock up on the best cheese, olives and smallgoods to help you get through, especially when we’d rather be eating and drinking than slicing and dicing in the kitchen. But what exactly makes one deli stand above the rest?

“We were established as a takeaway delicatessen in 2005,” says Ambie Moore of Delicado Foods in McMahons Point. “But we’ve continued with the deli side of things as we’ve expanded into a restaurant, wine bar and bottle shop, because it’s still a really important part of the business for us…we’re really interested in providing quality deli products for our community and customers.” [fold] For Moore and the Delicado team, this means stocking nothing but the best. “The most important thing is the freshness,” she says. “You’re looking for a business like ours to be specialised and who do a couple of really good products and do them exceptionally well.”

At Delicado, they focus on high-grade Spanish products, with fresh deli items including chorizo, salami and jamon (Serrano and Iberico), house cured olives, manchego and valdeon cheeses and a handful of seasonal specialties.

Melinda Dimitriades of Farmgate in Waterloo agrees that quality and passion for providing the best is all important, though she works somewhat closer to home. “I love clean food and I love the story that goes with it. I’m very passionate about farms and I like to know what’s in my food,” says Dimitriades. “When you get the best of something and you’re dealing with high-end product, you realise what goes into low-end product and then you can see where the real rip-off is.”

At Farmgate, Dimitriades stocks products sourced directly from farmers and small producers who farm ethically, including smallgoods and cured meats, pates and terrines.

“Small cottage businesses are few and far between and the intimate nature of those foods and producers is important. The time and care that goes into those products is self-evident and we should be supporting the quality of artisan farmhouse producer,” she says.

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For both Dimitriades and Moore, passion and a tight range of exceptional products are all important. And with this in mind, here’s our pick of places to get deli-cious.

  1. Delicado Foods – 134 Blues Point Road, McMahons Point
    You can’t miss the striking red and black façade, and with a wonderful display of olives, chorizo and cheese, this is the full experience, Spanish style. Fresh deli items are complimented by exceptional tinned and bottled morsels and you can collect your wine here from the specialty wine shop too.

  2. Farmgate – 7 Botany Road, Waterloo
    Melinda Dimitriades can be found at Farmers Markets around Sydney, but pop into the Farmgate shop to pick up mustard fruits, pates, olives and a selection of small goods that come direct from the farms of producers with only the best ethics.

  3. Lamonica IGA Haberfield – 155 Ramsay Street, Haberfield
    The huge selection of deli items on offer at this independent supermarket deli draws a crowd from all over Sydney. Salamis swing from the display, huge chunks of Italian cheeses are on offer, but be prepared to queue.

  4. Fourth Village Providore – 5a Vista Street, Mosman
    The go-to spot for olives, cold cuts, salads and nibbles on the North Shore, this family run providore and green-grocer has a dedicated cheese room and a reputation for and a wonderful range. It’s like a little trip to Italy.

  5. Ranieri Continental Deli – 97 Great North Road, Five Dock
    More your old-school deli experience, this little shop sports a happily cramped display of cheeses, olives, antipasti and bread rolls. And if you’re having trouble deciding between delights, they’ll always oblige with a taste test.

  6. Formaggi OcelloShop 16/425 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
    Cheese is the specialty here, and what they don’t have, you probably can’t get in Sydney. But there is also a selection of olives, cold cuts, antipasti, dips and crisp breads on offer.

  7. Blackwattle Deli – Shop 8a, Sydney Fish Market, Bank Street, Pyrmont
    Tucked into the pungent main building of the Sydney Fish Market, this deli stocks a hefty display of cheeses and everything from crackers to sweet treats from big name brands to the lesser known.