Fausto Zizoli opened La Piadina with his brother, Damiano, seven years ago. Since, the Glenayr Avenue hole-in-the-wall has grown from hidden gem to local institution. Two weeks ago, it completed renovations to expand into the shopfront next door. It’s called Mercatino, which means “mini-mart” in Italian.
“You come to eat the piadina, and here people can buy the raw ingredients that we use, too,” says Zizoli. One wall is dedicated to a fridge cabinet with European butter and prosciutto di Parma. The other holds condiments such as marinated artichokes and, a little randomly, Kewpie mayonnaise. “We use it in our tuna mix. It’s very popular,” Zizoli says. “Plus we have pasta, sauces and olive oils from specific farms in Italy.”
However for Zizoli, La Piadina and Mercatino have motives beyond just food. “I’m a barista, but I am an also artist,” he says. “We believe there is not enough art in Bondi.” With the help of art curator Max Maldev, he’s turned La Piadina’s street front into an activated wall; a local street or contemporary artist will be commissioned to paint the wall on the first Monday of each month.
This December, Zizoli himself will activate the wall with a photography piece. “This is a great platform for exposure. Many artists get commissions because of this,” he says. “We’re really keen to work with the local community, and we would also like to invite international artists to come.”
At Mercatino most of the eclectic décor is for sale. “We have kind of a fetish for Japanese sub-culture,” Zizoli says. Currently, fruit is a theme. From the walls hang strawberry- and pineapple-shaped canvas bags from Japan, and on the stools there are watermelon and orange cushions bought on a recent trip to Korea.
In the window, a blow-up dinosaur stands beside instant ramen noodles. Artist Daniel O’Toole (known as Ears), painted the lone communal table. Zizoli’s personal record collection is also on display. He says they are for sale, “for the right price.”
Pop-up events are in Mercatino’s future. “We’re planning a performance with a film and theatre composer who will do an improvised session with a synthesiser in the corner. It will be more like an art piece – this guy’s just playing crazy things with no expectations.”
In establishing his business, Zizoli thinks he was subconsciously influenced by boutique Italian magazine Toilet Paper. “They’ve found an amazing recipe, which is consumerable art, but limited, not mass produced. This is the same thing in a way.
“That’s the concept – you come in and you experience something else. This is our place, there’s very strong energy and you can feel it.”
104 Glenayr Ave, Bondi
(02) 9300 0160
Mon to Sun 10am-8.30pm