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Meet local icon – Michelle Di Pietro

Borne out of love for her Italian heritage and passion for food, Michelle Di Pietro is turning her deli dreams into a nationwide empire.

Overcoming the challenge of the pandemic, she says the Epping community’s support of her business has helped it grow to where it is today.

As a qualified chef, my life changed for the better when I found myself in the picturesque region of Abruzzo in Italy – the hometown of my mum and dad. Growing up, I’d always been inspired by my Nona’s cooking and this experience only fuelled my passion for cooking more.

I loved the idea of bringing a little piece of Italy back to Melbourne and it was arrosticini meat skewers, a cherished street food in Abruzzo, that held a special place in my heart. I wanted to introduce their authentic flavour to Melbourne’s food scene and to educate people about the culinary tradition.

Six years later, in 2017, I returned to Melbourne ready to transform the dream into reality, and I started Abruzzo Lab. Having grown up around Epping, the decision to stay local was a practical one. With ample parking and room for expansion, we were able to get a liquor license and build a brand-new space.

Abruzzo Lab has become one of the few, perhaps the only, operators in Australia with a dedicated arrosticini bar, crafting skewers for dine-in, while also distributing them wholesale. We are working to expand nationally, supplying arrosticini to restaurants and boutique delis across Australia. We are also considering expanding the Lab and opening additional stores in the future.

During the pandemic, we were overwhelmed with the support we received from the local community. People became interested in good food again and started to look more at what was available in their immediate neighbourhood. It’s boosted the amount of word-of-mouth about the business, and that’s helped it grow significantly.

Epping is a very friendly community — it’s very multicultural and it’s always growing and changing and getting better. I’m a big believer in shopping locally — that Epping needs to support Epping. It would be great if there was more variety in the retail offering to help find all those little things you can’t get at Epping Plaza.

Hopefully, New Epping will bring more businesses and more opportunities into the area, which is good for Abruzzo Lab and good for the entire community.

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