Nothing says Italy like a Vespa, like sex, but on wheels
When I first walked into The Italian Pantry (Federal Street, North Hobart) I expected to find a miniature oasis of Italian shopping. Shelves full to bursting with pasta, sugo, oils, canned fish and pickled vegetables.
In reality, it was a half empty shell of a shop and quite a bit dusty. But that's just because The Italian Pantry are on the move, currently in the process of relocating their wholesale warehouse and retail shopfront to the other side of the street. Literally.
While it might only be a short move in distance, it's a big move in size, with the retail and warehouse spaces set to increase by about 70 per cent in terms of floor space...and with the boys working hard to get the best Italian produce around, surely in product availability also. Rumour has it that a cafe is also planned for the new shop space...but it's still in the pipeline so don't quote me on it (just cross your fingers and hope).
Business is booming, the handsome young man manning the store tells me. In his estimation, at least 30 per cent of the customers he serves each week are new, and the majority of these return in the following weeks to their first visit. At least I think he said 30 per cent, he is so handsome I was kind of swooning and not really paying attention. Now that's quality journalism for you.
The Italian Pantry delivers what it promises, even though the shelves are a little bare due to the impending move. This place is set up for people who love food. You could spend $10 on a bottle of olive oil, or $150 on a bottle of olive oil, but you wouldn't come here for anything you could buy at Coles.
Italian items are mixed with French, German, Swiss and other European products, with a good representation of Tasmanian wares including Bruny Island Cheese, Grandvewe Cheese, Waji and the Tasmanian Sauce Company.
You could easily spend $50 on French goose foie gras, $88 on safron threads and they have more kinds of dried mushrooms than I bothered to count. God only knows how much you could spend on meats and cheeses: Muntser, D'Argental, buffallo mozarella and parmesan, salami by region, Bresola...or snails, if they took your fancy (see left). After the move next week, the product selection is only going to grow.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention, there's booze.
Lots of it. Prosecco, Fernet-Branca, Grappa, Chianti, Bira Moretti. Good quality Italian booze, just don't expect to pay Italian prices. I suspect some serious mark-ups going on here.
I managed to leave the Italian Pantry without spending any money (I don't have any money...I'm a writer.) But if you do... I'll be surprised.
I will pop into the new shop when it's ready to open, and write up an update. And in the mean time, I will try and find my piggy bank.
The Italian Pantry
34 Federal Street, North Hobart.
Soon to be 27 Federal Street North Hobart, potentially from Early February 2010. I'll edit this post when it changes.
Open Mon-Fri 8am until 5.30pm
Open Saturday 8.30 until 1.30 (with the potential for extended hours once the new store is up and running.)