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La Spaghettata – the first pasta house in Australia

Jul 4, 2022 - 4:09pm

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Credit: This article was copied from Inner City News:

Sicilian husband and wife Tony and Giovanna Cattafi arrived in Melbourne in 1965 with only their suitcases and no English.

Like many Europeans who journeyed to Australia in the ‘60s, they worked hard from the moment they arrived, building a new life in West Footscray.

In 1981 they purchased La Spaghettata on Lygon St, Carlton, an authentic Italian restaurant claimed to be the first pasta house in Australia.

“Toto’s was the first pizza house, and we were the first pasta house,” second son Fabio said.

Over the years, the family table expanded with the addition of four children, all of whom spent time helping in the business.

At 13 years of age, Fabio remembers buttering the garlic bread, washing dishes and sweeping the floor.

Cousins, brothers, and aunties all did shifts in the restaurant when they needed money back in the day to pay for university or build a house.

“My dad set up a lot of people by giving them work,” Fabio said.

He recalls his and his siblings’ childhood memories filled with the aromas of family meals and the stories shared around Giovanna and Tony’s table.

La Spaghettata was and still is on Lygon St, Carlton.

Fabio said they loved being a part of it and the annual Lygon Street Festa.

Eldest son Mauro worked with his dad for 20 years.

When Fabio joined him, “we carried on the legacy, updating and adding modern marketing systems such as social media, but still retaining the authentic and traditional ambience.”

Fabio said that when you dined at La Spaghettata, you became part of the family and its story.

Mauro and Fabio have helped build the business and the clientele after trading for 40 years.

Some of their regular customers are now bringing grandchildren into La Spaghettata.

Fabio mentions Terry and Shirley, who come every second Sunday like clockwork.

“We love them; they are a big part of our family now. I spoke to Terry last week just to keep in touch,” he said.

Another couple, Helen and Peter, have dined with them since the ‘80s.

When asked what their recipe for longevity was, Fabio replied, “it is our consistency of great food and the connection and relationships we have formed with our customers.”

“We’ve seen so many changes, but we still have diners who keep coming back to us for our fresh Italian food and the hugs, kisses and familiarity as they pull up a chair in our authentic rustic farmhouse building.” •

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