When Guglielmo (Memmo) Petrini disembarked from the ship “Guglielmo MARCONI” at Melbourne in 1969, he realised this was a whole new world and a long long way from Roma.
He was at the ripe age of 23 and didn’t speak a word of English. Memmo’s first job was in the mines at Kalgoorlie, but that didn’t last long. How can an Italian man talk with his hands when his hands are full of tools? So, he made his way back to Melbourne only staying for a short time before landing here in Sydney.
Not yet settled, Memmo’s travels took him to Gove in the Northern Territory where he stayed and worked for 6 months. But thankfully he decided to return to Sydney to be with his love Debbie, whom he married in 1977.
The very same year they opened La Botte D’oro, right here where it stands today. It was a single room and although small, it was full of atmosphere warmth and energy. It didn’t take long for the community to embrace the delicious breakfasts and an entirely new dish on the Australian menu. Pizza.
Memmo’s pizza oven was one of the first in Sydney and became an instant hit.
Queues that snaked around the corner were common as people happily waited for their table with the knowledge of the quality food they were soon to enjoy.
Besides, the wait didn’t seem as long with Memmo out on the street telling jokes, singing and chatting to the gathered crowds. Some nights the place was so packed that people would volunteer to sit on crates of coke just outside the kitchen with pizzas resting on their knees.
Now the place was really cooking.
Two years later, the entrepreneurial Memmo brought fresh seafood to Sydney’s restaurant dining scene, and introduced the seafood display that still remains as popular as ever. Wednesdays and Fridays became known as Seafood Nights at La Botte D’oro with people coming from all across Sydney to sample Memmo’s pesce. Fresh prawns, pippies, John Dory, calamari and octopus would also swim out the door. But that was merely a drop in the ocean compared to what was to come.
The Barrel was bursting at the seams and it was clearly time to expand. Since these humble beginnings the restaurant has grown to 4 rooms with a loyal clientele that continues to grow.
A lot has changed over the years, including the colour of Memmo’s flowing hair. But one thing that has remained the same, and kept happy customers returning year after year is the delicious trattoria style home-cooked food, family ambience, a sea of friendly faces, and did I mention the food? Buono.
Memmo’s La Botte D’oro was one of the first Italian restaurants in Leichhardt and has stood the test of time. La Botte D’oro is one of the oldest Italian restaurants in Sydney, celebrating its 30th birthday in 2007.
More recently, Memmo started handing over the reigns to his son David, who will keep The Golden Barrel rolling for the next 30 years and beyond. But rest assured, this pioneer of Sydney’s “Little Italy” isn’t going anywhere.
In fact he’s looking forward to welcoming you and your next generation through the doors in the near future.
If Memmo’s English has improved since stepping off that ship in Melbourne all those years ago, he’d say something profound right here, But because it hasn’t:
“Ringrazio tutti i miei clienti e rinnovo l’invito a trascorrere una serata in compagnia qui alla Botte D’oro, BUON APPETITO”