Growing up nearby, Victoria and Annabella La Pegna have childhood memories of popping into the corner store on Bayview Terrace and Pennell Street for lolly bags.
Now, years later as adults, the sisters have taken over the shopfront to put their continental twist on the Claremont corner store: Bottega Deli.
The stone-clad space opened in October, and when we visit they’re just about to clock one month of serving a stellar lineup of pasta, pantry goods and popular panini.
“I’ve worked in the area for the last five years so it’s nice,” Victoria tells us as she assembles endless rows of panini, in this instance filled with blushing slices of coppa, mushrooms and Calabrian chillies.
“I’m a chef by trade and I’ve been working in restaurants for the last ten years. I worked with my dad [Albasio La Pegna, owner of Claremont landmark eatery Bellissimo] for five of those years and obviously our background is Italian, more specifically Neapolitan.”
“I still see some of the customers that go to my dad’s restaurant as well,” she adds. “Which is really nice, most people have been very supportive.”
“Probably a year ago we saw that the space was vacant and my dad said, ‘Why don’t we do something there? You’re sick of working nights!’ So I was like, ‘OK, let’s do it.’”
Annabella came on board shortly thereafter, seeking a change from her marketing nine-to-five.
“I’d been working corporate for a long time, I’d worked at a few different branding and design agencies. And I had thought for a really long time that corporate life or being in an office wasn’t for me… But I didn’t really know what to do or where to go from there.”
“And then obviously after COVID I was a bit scared to do anything on my own, especially hospo – I’d just seen my dad and Victoria go through COVID in hospo together and it was just… Scary!”
“This opportunity came up earlier this year and Victoria was going to do it with our dad – I was helping her with the branding and we were chatting heaps about it and I just thought… Why not? Why don’t I just do it too? I’m going to get FOMO if I don’t and I want something different and I’m more suited to customer service so I was just like… Let’s do it!”
“Working with Victoria has been really great. We obviously have our quarrels sometimes but it’s generally pretty good – and we love each other in the end! And we both love food, we love Italian cooking and Naples.”
Victoria’s cooking at Bottega Deli centres predominantly around a low-waste ethos and cucina povera: simple, inexpensive food lovingly prepared – although you’ll find some bougier ingredients sneaking in. Alongside panini, a rotating selection of pastas can be eaten on the go or taken home for later.
“At the moment we’re seeing what people want, what they like, trying to do a different sandwich everyday,” explains Victoria.
“I don’t know if people are used to that, I think people are probably used to going somewhere and knowing exactly what they’re going to order and get. But we’ll see how we go!”
“People are obsessed with the panini,” adds Annabella.
“Having to tell people that there’s none left, I feel like they’ve lost a child or something! But then the other thing is, if the panini are finished and they get a pasta… Most of the time, the next time they come back they get a pasta again, because it’s amazing. I love a Victoria pasta!”
“Also the sfogliatelle, we’ve had heaps of people coming back just for those.”
While the front of the shop is dedicated to the deli, at the rear is a curated selection of pasta, sugo, olive oil, canned goods and more.
“It’s kind of like our pantries: things that we love and always use. And I think that’s where we wanted to start because everything that’s in there, Victoria uses, or I have at home… We’re pretty happy with where it’s at now but obviously we can always improve!”
Bottega Deli is open now, and is located at 70 Bay View Terrace, Claremont.