If you’re in favour of a genuine Italian deli in the Sydney CBD, you’ll need to vote with your feet (or stomach). For two months, the boys behind Alexandria’s favourite fancy Italian food supplier, Salt Meats Cheese, is popping-up in Martin Place’s MLC Centre. And, if locals enjoy the freshly made sandwiches, flat-bread piadinas and take away cheese and meat platters, they might just hang around for good. “We always wanted to open a deli marketplace,” explains Stefano De Blasi, who, along with his partner Edoardo Perlo, began importing Italy’s best after migrating four years ago. “The pop-up will be ideal to test whether the people understand and like what we do. If the place is working well, we’re going to sign a contract to stay there.”
Perlo and De Blasi (who were born in the same hospital in Italy’s north west) worked in Italian institutions Fratelli Fresh and Hugo’s when they first landed in the Eastern Suburbs. But, the cousins weren’t impressed with the range of Italian produce - so they figured they’d bring it in themselves. “It was annoying to see people charge a lot for the quality,” says De Blasi. “We went to our friends and said, if we started importing food, would you like to buy the products?”
While Salt Meats Cheese - which has both wholesale and retail divisions - imports specialty products like San Daniele prosciutto, truffle pecorino, DOC Balsamic and dried pasta, about 50 per cent of their stock is made here in Australia. “Australian products are amazing,” enthuses De Blasi. “We have many cheeses coming from Queensland, a lot from Victoria. Olive Oil from Adelaide. Our best-seller is a locally-made mozzarella.”
For the new inner-city deli, the Perlo and De Blasi commissioned Caroline Choker, the designer behind The Grounds of Alexandria and the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, to craft them something out of white tiles and recycled wood. “She’s really talented, and she understands what the people want,” says De Blasi. “We went together overseas, to New York and LA, Italy to see places.”
The CBD SMC will not only feature take-away meat plates, and sandwiches, but every Thursday night the guys will run classes on traditional Italian cooking. And, if enough people rock up, they’ll be in the city year round. “We really want to keep it,” admits De Blasi.
Salt Meats Cheese Pop-Up Store
Shop 7.04, MLC Centre, Martin Place
Mon - Wed, Fri 9am - 5.30pm
Thurs 9am - 7pm
Sat 10am - 4pm
Open February 6 for 8 weeks.