It’s that time of year again when the streets of Leichhardt come alive with the buzz of the Norton Street Italian Festa for one day only.
With 240 stalls, cooking and entertainment stages as well as roving entertainment, Norton Street Festa is one of Australia’s largest Street Festivals, with 125,000 people expected this year.
Set in the heart of Little Italy, Norton Street Italian Festa makes a family fun day out where you can meet culturally rich locals and visitors from right across Sydney.
Now in its 30th year, having started as a small religious festival organised by local priests in 1986, today you can experience the best of Little Italy with plenty of Italian produce on offer, whether you fancy pizza, pasta, gelato, Italian cakes, pastries or clothing!
But it’s not just Italian fare here. Leichhardt is also home to a melting pot of cuisines and as I walk up Norton Street I pass by various cuisines including Vietnamese, Portuguese and German, as well as quick snack options such as the infamous Twist Chips on a Stick, Pie Run, numerous Paella sellers, Gozleme and nougat sellers.
We refresh ourselves with a Strawberry Sorbet ($4) which was beautifully refreshing and dangerously moreish as we walk up Norton Street looking for something tasty to eat. This festa was massive and ran all the way up Norton Street from William Street by Pioneers Memorial Park all the way up to the junction of Marion Street by Leichhardt Town Hall.
If you fancy coffee, then there are plenty of stalls selling that much needed caffeine boost, whilst if you love your wine and spirits The Norton Street Festa has a number of sellers from around Sydney. We stopped at a number of stalls including Cello selling Limoncello in lemon, lime, passionfruit and orange (my favourite being Passionfruit then Lime), as well as Sambucca, which I didn’t touch; Bunnamagoo Estate and Savannah Estate (their Muscat was far too easy to drink!).
We bought 3 sticks of the Lemongrass Chicken, and Marinated Pork skewers from a Vietnamese seller, Saigon Summer, which was super tasty and flavoursome. They also sold Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguettes) and fresh coconuts which my boyfriend bought for $5 for more liquid refreshments!
I can never go to these types of street festivals or food festivals without buying something for the home and this time we stumbled upon Rylstone Olive Press which has won numerous awards including ‘The World’s Best Olive Oils’ for its Rylstone Cudgegong and Crooked River Blends. We sampled about five of their olive oils ranging from the softer olive oils to the stronger ones. The Cudgegong Extra Virgin Olive Oil was my favourite and will be well used in my kitchen!
We passed a cooking demo on stage where Matteo Zamboni, owner Executive Chef Zambo in Surry Hills was just finishing up and soon came across the Pizzeria On The Road, a traditional mobile wood-fired pizza oven and decided to give this a try. The queue wasn’t too long and was moving pretty quickly, helped by their good system in place. Small pizzas were $8 whilst large pizzas were $10. Choose from Margherita, Diavalo, Meat Lovers, Pollo and more. We went for the Pollo which contained tomato sauce, fior di latte, chicken, spinach and mushroom.
We only had to wait about 10 minutes before our number was called. Served in a pizza box, we went to sit in a park to devour our Italian delight. The pizza was perfectly cooked, with plenty of cheese and toppings and wasn’t too dry. The only bad thing was that it was gone far too quickly!
Overall, the Norton Street Festa is well worth a visit, especially if you are a foodie like me and love Italian food. There was plenty of entertainment throughout the time we were here from singing, face painting, carnival rides, dancing competitions and even the Auto Festa in the Pioneers Memorial Park, showcasing Sydney’s finest display of Italian automobiles and motorcycles is well worth looking around.
The Norton Street Italian Festa took place from 10am – 5pm on Sunday 30 October 2016. If you missed it this year, be sure to add it to your calendar next year – it’s well worth a visit! Just beware of the crowds, it can get pretty busy!