Husband and wife team Joe and Michelle Rechichi are no strangers to the Perth hospitality scene, having operated the Mount Lawley branch of pizza franchise Crust for eight years. Their newest venture matches their names (Michelle’s maiden name is Xa, pronounced “Za”) with a character from The Godfather Part III (Joey Zasa) to bring a New York style sandwich bar to the foyer of 45 St George’s Terrace.
“We went to New York on our honeymoon and literally ate our way through America. That’s when we decided to open Crust,” says Michelle. “A lot of our foodie inspiration, although it’s not to do with our culture, comes from America.”
Their new venture came about following a suggestion that Joe’s family’s beloved Italian sandwiches were too good not to be shared with the public. The bright yellow kiosk, formerly a Caffissimo, stands out amongst the city’s many generic venues; it looks small but punches well above its weight. Seating is available both in the foyer and street-side.
Family recipes form the basis of Joey Zaza’s sandwiches, with both Italian and Asian inspired subs on the menu (Joe’s family hails from Calabria in southern Italy and Michelle’s family has both Chinese and Vietnamese heritage). There’s a classic conti, a take on a Philly cheesesteak and the banh mi-inspired “Razzle Dazzle Pork Crackle” filled with porchetta, house-pickles and fresh chilli. There are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
Signature Italian subs include “Nonna’s Famous Meatballs”, the “Capilicious Cutlet” and the “Mean Boss Parma”. The crucial Napoli sauce is cooked for five hours, and chicken parmas and cutlets are crumbed by hand. Joe’s Nonna makes the meatballs by hand, using high-quality mince to ensure they hold together when cooked.
“It takes hours to handroll hundreds of meatballs, but the end-result speaks for itself,” says Joe.
“What I like about our parmas is they’re not greasy,” adds Michelle. “I find with other parmas you can see the different layers. The mozzarella cheese falls off, and you can taste the acidity in the sauce because it’s not cooked for long enough.”
Joe’s Nonna isn’t the only local supplier. Ciabatta and Calabrese (Italian sourdough) bread is from Fremantle baker Il Panino, porchetta and cold meats are from Princi, and sweet treats such as bombolini (Italian doughnuts) and brownies are from Lorenzo’s Kitchen in Ellenbrook. Coffee is from Dimattina.
I was suitably impressed by Joey Zaza’s sandwiches, both in quality and value-for-money. A substantial, freshly made CBD lunch isn’t easy to come by for $13.
“People in the city shouldn’t have to settle for the sandwiches behind the cabinet,” says Michelle. “If you’re working, that’s your only time in the day. Come and enjoy yourself. I don’t want you to leave hungry.”
45 St George’s Terrace, Perth
Mon – Fri 7am – 3pm