Established in 1962 by Umberto Somma, Paesanella has manufactured cheese in Marrickville ever since. Sons Joseph and Max have since inherited the company and they’re keeping one foot firmly rooted in the tradition of their father, but branching out, too. They are growing the business with a new shopfront and deli, which opened just recently.
In Paesanella’s Marrickville factory, Giuseppe “Pippo” Montauro shows us the machinery he has operated since 1988. In an ever-expanding factory, milk comes in and cheese comes out. The room buzzes and sloshes. Huge stainless-steel vats pasteurise milk, and a gumboot-and-hairnet-clad team supervises the process from start to finish with scientific precision. It’s been this way for half a century.
Paesanella’s bottom-floor cafe showcases its produce. Paesanella all-rounder and experienced restauranteur, Viktor Paciocco, shows us around. “The whole thing is a try-and-buy situation,” he says. “Pretty much everything on the menu is upstairs – available to buy.” Even the pastries, which come from Haberfield, are filled with ricotta supplied by Paesanella. “It all comes full circle!” he laughs. That full circle extends to in-house production. Famed for its buffalo-milk cheese, Paesanella has even purchased stakes in a herd of milking buffalo. And in a Sydney first, the cafe is using it in its coffee. “People are taking to it really well! It’s almost like milk was 30 years ago, with that big, thick layer on the top. It’s got nine per cent fat compared to 2.5–3 per cent in cow’s milk.” That fat is not a bad thing Paciocco (who moonlights as a personal trainer) assures us. “It’s full of A2 proteins.”
The third-floor deli is Paesanella’s crowning glory. An abundance of cheese is punctuated by a generous variety of smoked and preserved meats and all sorts of Italian produce. Stocked to the hilt with imported deli goods, wood-fired bread, a variety of pastas, a huge range of sauces and more cheese, Paesanella’s newly opened Marrickville storefront shows how the traditional deli model fits snuggly into the modern age.
Retail manager, Giampiero Di Donato guides us around the emporium, our eyes darting wildly at the cornucopic display. “This is the product!” Di Donato waves his arm at the display. A gamut of cheese nestles the glass-encased shelves in front of me. Fresh ricotta, packed ricotta, dried ricotta, smoked provoletta, scamorza, cherry bocconcini, buffalo mozzarella, smoked treccia, rolantto (rolled mozzarella with prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes) fresh mascarpone and fresco, a haloumi-type cheese with less salt.
In addition to its own produce, Paesanella also has a huge and varied display of imported goods. “Cut and portioned cheese ready to grab and go,” Di Donato says. “It’s not ours but it is still very high quality,” he assures us, leading us into the cheese room. Wheels, quarter wheels and lumps the size of chihuahuas rest on shelves. Smaller hunks rest in glass domes. “Any cheese that is famous is here,” Di Donato says. Blue cheese, gorgonzola, roquefort, Australian holy goat, 38-month-matured parmesan and many, many more cheeses make up the stock. Di Donato motions towards a purple mottled wheel. “Testun al Barolo. It’s a mature cheese from Northern Italy covered in Barolo grape skins,” he says. “There is a lot of culture in this room and I can’t explain it all in two minutes!”