Located a quick sandy-footed dash from Currumbin Creek (and Winders Park), it’s highly likely you’ll smell Aperitivo Cafe & Panini Bar before you see it. The quaint weatherboard-clad house has been transformed into a light and bright cafe that specialises in takeaway bites that are best enjoyed sprawled out by the glistening water. The neighbourhood noshery is the handiwork of husband-and-wife duo Matteo and Liana Secci, who moved here from Melbourne last year with their wood-fired pizza oven truck in tow. The pair, who both have extensive backgrounds in hospitality, waved goodbye to the roving restaurant in favour of something a little more permanent with the view to create a community-centric cafe that delivers a little taste of Matteo’s homeland. If you time your visit right, the display cabinet is brimming with freshly made focaccia pugliese sitting pretty next to buttery, flaky croissants and pastries, authentic sfogliatelle handmade in Mermaid (if you know, you know) and pistachio-topped cannoli. In true Italian style, pastries and coffee headline the morning offering with Melbourne’s Niccolo Coffee beans flowing through the machine. As the day drifts on the menu pivots to offer a selection of six loaded panini-style sandwiches, made using Matteo’s 24-hour fermented focaccia as a base and layered with a mouth-watering assortment of toppings such as freshly sliced mortadella with pistachio, ricotta cheese, tomato and evoo (extra virgin olive oil).
Aperitivo Cafe & Panini Bar is unpretentious and full of heart. Everything here is a reflection of Matteo and Liana’s extended family – from their son’s Pinocchio that presides over the dining room to Liana’s late Nonna’s pasta machine that is perched on the shelf above. There’s a scattering of tables inside and outside, or you can opt to takeaway to enjoy by the water’s edge. The pair have plans to introduce a selection of take-home heat-and-eat meals such as traditional lasagne and arancini, which are an extension of the Secci’s dinner table at home. As a rule, if they wouldn’t eat it themselves or feed it to their kids, you won’t find it at Aperitivo. There’s also a limited grocery line featuring Italian-made cook-at-home pasta, the venue’s own Adam’s House Made Tomato Relish (featuring Liana’s brother’s recipe) and the seriously addictive Balocco Cubes flavoured wafers, to name a few. At its core, Aperitivo Cafe and Panini Bar is about community – it’s the kind of place where you’re welcomed by name and coffee order and it’s not unusual to find locals lingering out the front.
Keen to check it out? Roll over to our Stumble Guide for opening times.