Panini Paradise: Arno Deli's Italian-Inspired Delights in Newcastle

Arno Deli, Newcastle

Visiting Newcastle and in need of a coffee or something delicious for lunch? Arno Deli in downtown Newcastle is a deli stocked with a great range of conservas, cheeses and salumi. The deli is also known for their freshly made panini, coffee and cannoli. These aren't any ordinary panini, they're inspired by the panini of Florence, Italy.

Arno Deli, Newcastle

Part the red curtain at Arno Deli and enter a treasure trove of Italian goodies. Arno Deli's owner Will O'Brien is originally from Sydney and has a chef background apprenticing at Rockpool George Street and then working his way up at large event caterers and Merivale where he met his wife Bri. In 2012 the couple travelled to Europe for 6 months driving around in a campervan. Their route was dictated by the bookings they had for restaurants that were made months in advance.

Arno Deli, Newcastle

Will was inspired by a particular "life changing" panino during a visit to Florence at the renowned All’Antico Vinaio. "The panino is called the Favolosa and it contains Sbriciolona salami (a Florentine pork & fennel salami), cream of pecorino cheese, cream of artichokes and spicy eggplant. It was so good I went back about 6 times including a pretty major detour on our trip back north to make it happen." It was after this that he decided that he wanted to do something similar.

Arno Deli, Newcastle

In 2017 the couple moved to Newcastle so that Bri could do her masters degree at UON. "I fell in love with the city. We pretty much decided that Newcastle is where we wanted to start a family so we moved up here permanently in 2017," says Will. The deli is after the Arno River that runs through Florence.

Arno Deli, Newcastle

"Panini were always the plan, we opened with 9 panini on the menu and each was given a number that stays with the individual panino. We’ve added a few and removed some over the past 18 months and we’re now up to number 26. #1 was a tribute to the Favolosa and will be making a return to the menu at some point.. It will always be number 1," says Will.

Arno Deli, Newcastle
#15 Porchetta $21.50

He starts each sandwich with St Malo schiacciata bread. The most popular panini is the #15 Porchetta (there are two porchetta sandwiches available) and they make the porchetta in-house in their small kitchen and glaze the ham themselves using a Campari glaze. Giving vibes of a Cubano sandwich but with provolone cheese, mustard, mayo and guindillas I can see why it's so popular with a generous amount of porchetta and ham but the guindillas balance it all.

Arno Deli, Newcastle
#16 Nduja $19

For something spicy try the #16, the whipped nduja with hot sopressa, stracciatella, salsa verde, rocket that is satisfyingly spicy and moreish.

Arno Deli, Newcastle
#5 Mortadella $18

They're all delicious but out of the three, my favourite is the #5, their version of a classic combo with mortadella, pistachio crema, stracciatella and pistachios. This is a textural and flavour dream in a sandwich with Will using fresh pistachios and a Sicilian pistachio paste to really bring out the pistachio flavour.

Arno Deli, Newcastle

As for Will, his favourite is none of the above. "My favourite is the #2 with Calabrian chilli. It’s our version of porchetta which I include salsiccia mince when I roll up the pork belly with fennel pollen, rosemary, black pepper and chilli. We serve it with baby cos leaves, aioli, grilled eggplant and Alto Robust extra virgin olive oil from Crookwell, NSW," explains Will.

Arno Deli, Newcastle
Cannoli $5.50 each

Finish off your meal with a coffee by The Little Marionette or a cannoli. The cannoli shells are imported from Sicily and he fills them with sweetened sheep ricotta or crème patisserie for the fruit versions.

Arno Deli is also licensed with a focus on Italian wines with 80 wines available. All of the wines stocked are Italian varietals made in either Italy or Australia. And this month they will be open on Friday nights for salumi, cheese and snacks like Mortadella and Provolone sliders or grilled scallops with house made salumi XO and butter.

So tell me Dear Reader, is there a food experience that you've had that has been life changing?

Arno Deli

181 King St, Newcastle NSW 2300

Monday Closed

Tuesday 8:30 am - 3:00 pm

Wednesday 8:30 am -3:00 pm

Thursday 8:30 am -9:00 pm

Friday 8:30 am -9:00 pm

Saturday 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Sunday closed

Phone: (02) 4926 1698

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