As Jetsetting Joyce one of my claims to fame is that I have visited Rome five times. I love the city and have a few favourite (eating) haunts, one of which is Lo Zozzone. Down a secluded alleyway, it’s a local panini and pizza bar staffed by a bunch of Filipono Italians. You get a ticket, pay 3 euros and get to pick 3 ingredients for your giant panini. They slice all of their proscuitto, mortadella and other cold cuts on the spot and the mozzarella is delicious.
So when I heard about Fugazza I was hoping that it would be my Lo Zozzone in Melbourne. Fugazza also serves Italian style sandwiches in a bustling lane off Little Collins Street and I had read good reports about the quality of their foccacias.
Fugazza is a passion project for Simon Michelangeli, a Melburnian with Italian roots who couldn’t find the kind of bread and espresso he enjoyed in Tuscany when he returned home. Simon was very friendly on my visit, helping me choose between the sausage and pork sandwich (the answer = half of each!) while still working the tills and clearing tables in his tiny establishment. Nice to see an owner who’s passionate about his business and not too lofty to do some grunt work.
The Fugazza menu is easy to navigate – there are four focaccia fillings plus one special and you can opt to pair it with some of Nonno Michelangeli’s Tuscan vegetable and bean soup or salad. Drinks come in the form of their own roasted blend of Italian coffee and Italian soft-drinks.
The key to the food is the bread, which is a light sourdough which has been baked especially for Fugazza in Melbourne using Simon’s recipe, which took 6 months of experimentation and development. It comes baked with a thin crunchy exterior under the featherlight dough, the polar opposite to foccacias squashed into a brick by a sandwich press.
Out of the fillings I tried I highly recommend the melting slow cooked porchetta with roasted pumpkin, as I found the pork sausage, stracchino cheese, caramelised onion and parsely combo a little bland. The broccoli and basil salad was a wholesome side with lots of crunchy greenery.
To finish off your lunch, particularly in cool weather, I recommend the thick Barbagliata hot chocolate from Italian company Moretto. It’s the kind of drink you have to eat with a spoon and the thick sweet concoction will warm you from inside out.
Fugazza, Shop 5A, 31 Equitable Place, Melbourne +61 402 125 286
Mon to Fri 7am–3pm