It’s 7 o’clock Saturday morning at Sydney Markets, Flemington, and Anna Furnari has just delivered 65 home-baked loaves of bread to Scala’s deli.
They’re still warm as she brings them in from the car and carefully places them in a cloth-lined shopping trolley at the front of the shop.
“My husband Sam has been baking this bread for Scala’s for the past 15 years,” she says, sipping on a well-earned cup of coffee.
“It’s made the old way, by hand, and cooked in a wood-fired oven made by him.We were given a recipe by some friends about 15 years ago, and he experimented until he got it to what it is today.
“The bread is very natural, only flour fresh yeast, water, salt and oil goes into the mix.”
Anna’s family hails from Capo d’Orlando on the northern coast of Sicily between Messina and Palermo. The Furnaris are one of many Italians involved at Scala’s, a deli with a history of over 60 years.
Originally opened in 1949 by Andrea Carrano in the Haymarket, it moved to Flemington in 1975.
After Carrano passed away a couple of years ago, ownership transferred to his daughter who then sold it to Frank Canturi and Phillip Versace.
In keeping with the Italian family theme, three generations of the Canturi/Versace family work in the store including Nonna Theresa who makes home-made biscuits, and Maria, Phillip’s mum, who helps out with the panini.
Frank and Phillip completely renovated it last September, transforming it into a slick modern food emporium.
“We’ve tried to retain the old ambience,” says Phillip. “But we’ve freshened it up, and added new items to the menu such as pizzas.
“We started with one pizza oven and had to put in another one, because they’re so popular.”
Despite their 2am start, both men are bright-eyed and welcoming when we arrive after shopping for fruit and vegetables at nearby Paddy’s markets. They bustle around, making coffee, chatting to the steady stream of customers and selling Anna’s bread.
Both men come from retail backgrounds: Frank has been in the fruit & veg business for the past 20 years, while Phillip has run espresso bars in King Street in the city and at Darling Harbour.
If you’re intending to visit Paddy’s market on a Saturday morning to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at competitive prices (many local farmers sell produce at Paddy’s on Saturdays), I’d recommend you stop off at Scala’s for a coffee, a loaf of Anna’s warm bread, and a pizza or panini.
I felt I was back in Italy.
In fact, until a decade ago, over 90 per cent of the market vendors were of Italian descent – as were most of our fruit and vegetable store vendors.
“Now the Lebanese and the Greeks and Chinese have moved in,” says Phillip. ‘It’s a sign of how multi-cultural Australia’s become.”
Scala’s, Flemington Markets, Sydney
Shop 5 – 6, Block J
Sydney Markets, Homebush
Ph. 02 9763 1275
How to get there: www.paddysmarkets.com.au/locations.html