Norton Street Italian Festa

Sunday lunchtime, beautiful day, blue sky, sun, warm weather, Norton Street Italian Festa in Leichhardt. What else could you ask for? Well, maybe a public holiday on Monday, but the end of the Crave festival was good enough.

Norton Street Italian Festa: The festival

I met Bonnie and Rubi (her charming dog) on the corner of Marion and Norton Streets, on one end of the festival, right in front of the stage. A lady was singing a song in Italian, which I always thought was originally written in Spanish. There were lots of people (mainly families) and lots of food. As usual, we walked all the way to the end to see what was on offer.

There were stalls selling “convenient” festival food: sausage rolls, piadinas, etc. Some of them not quite Italian (bacon and egg rolls, for example), but others very traditional, like the porchetta (suckling pig) panini.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Bacon & egg rolls, sausage rolls and steak rolls from Mezzapica

Norton Street Italian Festa: Italian sausage rolls

Norton Street Italian Festa: Mondo Piadina

Norton Street Italian Festa: Italian sausage

Norton Street Italian Festa: Porchetta (suckling pig)

Norton Street Italian Festa: Porchetta (suckling pig)

Of course there was pasta, gnocchi, lasagna, pizza, calzone, risotti… All freshly made and very tempting.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Fernando's Pasta

Norton Street Italian Festa: Making gnocchi

Norton Street Italian Festa: Pesto & Napoletana gnocchi from Puntino Trattoria

Norton Street Italian Festa: Prawns & mushroom risotto

Norton Street Italian Festa: Stone-baked pizza

Norton Street Italian Festa: Calzone Napoletano

On the sweet side, there were several stalls selling nougat and gingerbread. I had no idea they were traditional sweets in Italy.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Nougat & Italian gingerbread

Norton Street Italian Festa: Italian Gingerbread

Norton Street Italian Festa: Nougat

And yes! There were cannoli, baba, zuccherati, etc. The kind of sweets that make me want to say “one of each, please”, even if my heart goes crazy after having just one of them.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Sweets from Mezzapica

Norton Street Italian Festa: Mezzapica sweets menu

Norton Street Italian Festa: Dolcitalia

Norton Street Italian Festa: Belli Bar

And it wouldn’t have been a proper Italian festival without Nutella. There were Italian doughnuts with Nutella fondue, Nutella ravioli with Bayley’s foam, Nutella pizzas with roasted hazelnuts and other chocolate spreads (other brand, various ingredients, equally addictive).

Norton Street Italian Festa: Italian doughnuts with Nutella fondue from Aperitivo

Norton Street Italian Festa: Nutella pizzas with roasted hazelnuts

Norton Street Italian Festa: Chocolate spreads

I don’t know if the folks in Common Ground Bakery are Italian or not, but their stuff looked really good.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Sweets & preserves from Common Ground Bakery

Norton Street Italian Festa: Common Ground Bakery

The usual unrelated stalls popped in the festa too: seafood paella and Dutch pancakes. I was surprised not to see a Turkish gozleme stall (or maybe I missed it?).

Norton Street Italian Festa: Seafood paella

Norton Street Italian Festa: Seafood paella

Norton Street Italian Festa: Dutch pancakes

More unrelated but not that bad: candied nuts and fairy floss. I guess you have to keep the kids interested, huh? As a side note, the candied nuts girls had placed “nutty facts” on their stall that had as main character Mr Peanut, who, as we all know, is not a nut, but a legume.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Candied nuts

Norton Street Italian Festa: Fairy floss

It was super hot, so most of the “fresh stuff” stalls had big queues: sno-cones, lemonade (2 stalls), orange juice, and ice cream. There was a stall selling watermelon besides the cannoli, which I suspect were the main business of the stallholders. Very clever, I must say.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Lemon bar

Norton Street Italian Festa: Shaking lemonade

Norton Street Italian Festa: Freshly squeezed orange juice

Norton Street Italian Festa: Ice cream

Norton Street Italian Festa: Watermelon & fresh cannoli

There was coffee too, but no wine or beer.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Al Fresco

Bonnie was hungover from her birthday party and wasn’t sure about what to eat until she saw the perfect meal: chips on a stick. Completely non-Italian, but exactly what she needed.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Chips on a stick

Her second course were two servings of chicken skewers from Vanilla Room ($2 each), which she shared with Rubi.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Nanata (whitebait fritters), espetada (beef rubbed in garlic and salt) & chicken skewers from Vanilla Room

I wanted pasta but also dessert. It would have been too many carbs if I had the two, so I had an octopus salad and two briscioli (risotto balls) from Fernando’s Pasta. The salad was ok, the baby octopus were a bit oily but tender and I found the sweet chilli sauce was a very strange choice for dressing that salad. The briscioli were nice, but I prefer arancini.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Octopus salad with sweet chilli sauce from Fernando's Pasta

Octopus salad with sweet chilli sauce from Fernando’s Pasta ($9)

Norton Street Italian Festa: Briscioli (risotto balls) from Fernando's Pasta

Briscioli (risotto balls) from Fernando’s Pasta ($2 each)

It was not all about the food. There were stalls selling clothes, pillows, toys, etc. There was a playground for the kids and traditional Italian music. Very charming.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Kids' playground

Norton Street Italian Festa: Traditional Italian music

I bought a couple of sweets for bringing back home: a Portuguese tart and my beloved ricotta cannolo.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Portuguese tart & ricotta cannolo from Mezzapica

Portuguese tart & ricotta cannolo from Mezzapica ($3 each)

Bonnie suggested having a beer and I agreed. The weather was just perfect for that. But we didn’t find the right place (outdoor sitting, pet friendly), so we settled with gelato. I had a small cup with fruits of the forest and pistachio, she had a cone with panna cotta and hazelnut. Italian gelato in Leichhardt on a sunny Sunday afternoon was indeed very close to perfection.

Norton Street Italian Festa: Fruits of the forest & pistachio gelato

Fruits of the forest & pistachio gelato ($5)

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