The gourmet food emporium opened in a warehouse in Alexandria, Sydney, in 2011 and now has three sites in Sydney and Queensland, with more on the way.
By Hailey Settineri.
Inner city provedore Salt Meats Cheese has fast become Sydney’s go-to place for exquisite world produce. From dozens of different salts to more than 400 mostly Italian and other European deli items, Salt Meats Cheese is a foodies’ paradise.
The concept came about when Italian cousins Stefano de Blasi and Edoardo Perlo were operating a wholesale business for the hospitality industry. They moved to a new warehouse in Alexandria and found a number of local residents interested in perusing their wares. The cousins began selling fine imported vinegars and olive oils and there was soon enough interest to sideline the wholesale part of the business and focus on retail.
The Alexandria site is around 750sqm, with two-thirds dedicated to retail and the remainder designed for events such as cooking classes. In addition, the store has a walk-in cheese room and an impressive smallgoods selection at the deli.
The ‘salt’ in the store’s name refers to the extensive range on offer. There is the popular Himalayan pink rock salt, of which there’s a large slab on display, and more than 20 unique salt varieties, including black truffle sea salt, Cyprus black lava salt and Persian blue sea salt.
Mr Perlo says Salt Meats Cheese is a “food destination” and he has no interest in ranging things that are easily available elsewhere.
“We look for things that nobody else has, because eventually people will come back for that special something,” he told Retail World, “and when they do, they will buy other things.”
There is a commercial-grade kitchen at the back of the warehouse, where Salt Meats Cheese branded goods, such as pasta, is made fresh on-site.
At night, the store is transformed into a licensed restaurant, with guests invited to enjoy wood-fired pizza and other Italian delicacies in view of the gourmet-stocked aisles. The pizzeria, in a shipping container beside the store, produces classic and gourmet flavours such as the Tas (Tasmanian smoked salmon, gorgonzola, walnuts, capers and rocket) and The Black Lobster (lobster tail on a squid ink pizza with fontina, mozzarella, garlic oil and thyme).
Mr Perlo says there is growing interest in gourmet food as people become more aware of what is available, and increased competition from suppliers drives down prices.
“Convenience should not come at the expense of good taste.”
“With food, once you’ve tried the good stuff, you can’t go back to the bad stuff,” he said.
Salt Meats Cheese is meeting the growing demand for gourmet with new stores in Mosman in Sydney and Surfers Paradise in Queensland.
Salt Meats Cheese Mosman is a 150sqm site that opened in July 2015. Managed by Mr Perlo and Mr de Blasi, the store is modelled on the original Alexandria outlet, but with a distinct personality that relates to its position on the north shore.
“The store in Mosman is a different market,” Mr de Blasi said. “In Alexandria we are a destination, where everyone needs to drive and come to us for a good reason, whereas in Mosman, although there is a public car park next door, we are in the middle of a pedestrian area, so locals can walk to us for all their everyday products and ready-made meals.
“This new hub is all about enhancing the lifestyle of locals. About 30 per cent of our customers at Salt Meats Cheese are from [Sydney’s] north shore [where Mosman is situated]. We do a lot of deliveries in that area, so we thought it was time to now have a physical presence, too.”
While the Salt Meats Cheese providore theme is a huge component of the Mosman store, it is also open for coffee and pastries in the morning, pizzas, focaccias and panini for lunch, and wine and cheese in the evening.
“Salt Meats Cheese is all about providing quality ingredients and ready-made meals that help people find some balance in their busy lives,” Mr de Blasi said. “Convenience should not come at the expense of good taste. We will be serving light salads and be available for catering events, too, and can deliver food to your doorstep.”
A differentiator with the Mosman store is that it will cater to local yachties who like to enjoy the weekend sun on the water, with seafood platters made to order. Mosman’s store will also have imported wines, beer on tap, and an off-site coffee roaster where they will be making a signature blend.
Queensland’s first Salt Meats Cheese is franchised by Alessandro Vicinanza, who has managed the meat room within the Alexandria store for more than a year, and his partner Korine Skinner. The 200sqm store, which opened on July 23, is within the urban village precinct known as ‘The 4217’, named after the postcode that surrounds the beachside metropolis of Surfers Paradise.
Mr de Blasi says he sees a lot of potential in being part of The 4217 space. “The new hub is all about enhancing the lifestyle of locals and offering tourists a taste of home,” he said. “It’s not just an Italian deli. We pull together local artisan ingredients with hard-to-find products from Spain, Italy and South America.
“The store in Surfers Paradise is a place to grab a quick panino or wood-fired pizza and then buy everything you need – the flour, the Mutti tomatoes, the hand-stretched mozzarella – to make that pizza at home.”
The Queensland store features a dedicated cheese and meat room, with “the finest imported and local artisan cheeses” as well as a selection of charcuterie and artisan salt.
As with the original store, the Surfers’ Salt Meats Cheese store will feature a similar roster of cooking classes, where customers can learn how to butcher meat, and make pizza or pasta.
Salt Meat Cheese looks to expand further, with stores planned for Drummoyne and Parramatta in Sydney’s western suburbs.