If you had to pick the most famous sandwich in Melbourne’s west then you’d have to shortlist the Rocco Roll. You can only get it at Rocco’s Deli, a charming Italian delicatessen in Yarraville that’s been around since 1977.
The Rocco Roll is legendary for a reason. Each one is a large soft roll or crusty ciabatta, stuffed with your combination of antipasto, cheese and meat. There’s roasted capsicum, pickled olives, grilled eggplant, artichokes. Add a smear of basil pesto (that’s vegan) or tomato tapenade. Then pile on thinly sliced Italian, French or Dutch cheese and prosciutto, sopressa, capocollo, ham or pancetta.
The immense sandwich is definitely a two-handed affair.
“People really love the Rocco Roll – we sell close to 300 rolls a day,” smiles Louise McQueen, who was born in Italy and is the current owner of Rocco’s Deli.
“We once had a customer who came in every day for a month and even had four Rocco Rolls in a day. His girlfriend made him go on a diet!” she laughs.
Louise took over Rocco’s Deli in 2017 after spending years in IT. She hasn’t changed the shop much, keeping the traditions alive by selling quality local and imported small goods and Continental deli staples.
“I’ve tried to maintain the integrity of the place and respect my Italian heritage,” explains Louisa. “The rolls are made to order in front of customers and because we have such high turnover our sliced meats are always fresh. We make our cannoli on-site every day using a Sicilian recipe.”
Other items that are in high demand include Rocco’s picnic grazing boxes filled with pleasing arrangements of meat, cheese, dips, antipasti and fresh fruit. Louisa’s bolognese sauce, lasagne and Nonna’s meatballs are made with her family’s recipes and fly out the door.
The best time to visit Rocco’s? Any time really, but if you go in the morning you might catch regulars such as Alfonso, Babino, Sheila and even Rocco, who still visits to talk to his old customers, enjoy a Rocco Roll and sip a morning espresso made with beans from Ascot Vale’s Reverence Coffee.