Life & Style

The bubbly Italian behind Newcastle’s casual pop-up cucina

It’s that time again where we’ll be taking you behind the scenes with our favourite local business owners and creatives to find out where they go to eat, what playlist they’re listening to, where they take their out-of-town friends, and ultimately, what makes them tick.

For our 12th instalment of SPILL, we’re catching up with the bubbly Italian behind Newcastle’s casual pop-up cucina, Alessandra Papazzo of Osteria Papazzo.

spill alessandra papazzo osteria papazzo the junction newcastle nsw
Alessandra Papazzo

Firstly, what and where would people across Newcastle recognise you from?

They would recognise me from Osteria Papazzo's weekly pop-ups at Talulah, the Junction.

I’m picking up an accent, where are you from?

I am from Napoli, Italy.

What made you decide to make Newcastle home?

I felt in my heart that Newcastle was the right place to keep raising Marley, our son, and our little Osteria Papazzo. My little family and I only came for a weekend before we left Australia in May 2022 for our “one-way journey” (as we thought we were leaving for good).

During that weekend we felt alive, we loved the energy around; the mix of old and industrial reminded me of London, a city I love and lived in for long time. I loved the trees, the ocean and beaches, the ocean baths, the Victorian-style houses, and the proximity to Sydney, a city I love a lot.

So, when during our long journey overseas we decided to come back to Australia, we kept our promise, as we said if we would ever return it would have been in Newcastle.

Do you consider yourself more of an early bird or a night owl?

I am both :)

What’s your morning ritual?

I get up before 5am for my daily Ashtanga vinyasa yoga practice, meditation, and gratitude moment, and to burn Palo Santo all around our home before prepping breakfast and lunch for the boys.

Where’s your late-night hangout spot?

It depends, every day is different. Some days of the week I am working at night with our weekly pop-ups and catering services, some days you can find me in Marley’s bed, cuddling him before he falls asleep, then I jump back in the kitchen to finalise some of my new dishes and experiments.

Some nights I am in front of the computer to do all the admin, marketing, and social media work. Then some nights I’m on the couch studying and reading, and some nights on the deck watching the stars and looking at the sky.

What’s your coffee order?

A long black decaf coffee in Australia but if in Napoli, an espresso.

Speaking of coffee, which local venue knows your order off by heart?

It is MOOR in Newcastle East, I love it there as it is so down to earth.

Tell me about your biggest career highlight…

It’s yet to come :) I always feel it will be around my 50s, so not too far!

In your spare time, what are your favourite things to do in Newcastle?

Do big long walks on the beach; from Bar Beach to Merewether, swim in the ocean baths, walk back and walk to Newcastle East to look at the old buildings.

To have my solo time and coffee at Moor, where I will be writing and designing my ideas and projects.

A little visit to High Swan Dive, an adorable and the most beautiful nursery here in Newcastle. A stop at Savant Apothecary at the Junction Fair to smell and discover their latest soap creations, feel the beautiful energy of their shop, and chat with their wonderful team, then leaving recharged.

If you wanted to dazzle your out-of-town friends and family, where would you take them?

I am still new to Newcastle, not even a year, but I would for sure take them around all the beaches, including my favourite Dudley Beach.

A stroll around Newcastle East, coffee and breakfast at Moor, brunch at Momo, and a visit to Rudderless record store and Savant Apothecary.

Beer? Wine? Cocktail? Mocktail? What is your tipple of choice and where do you frequently visit?

I love a classic Negroni and the NOW Australian natural wines. We had a beautiful Negroni at The Rooftop at QT. We also sell NOW wines at Osteria Papazzo.

On the daily, what’s guaranteed to make you smile?

Marley, my son.

What do you NEVER leave the house without?

My bag.

We’re all about keeping it local here at HUNTERhunter – tell me THREE of your favourite local businesses that you live and breathe by and why you couldn’t live without them…

Let’s say: Moor, Momo, High Swan Dive.

Moor because I feel at home there, it is so down to earth. I love the energy and I love working from there, sometimes for hours! I feel peace and the atmosphere reminds me of home.

Momo, because they make super healthy brunches and breakfasts and it is a very healthy place and a beautiful building (I love architecture, art, and design).

For my love of nature and plants and beautiful things and great energy, High Swan Dive is such a gem for Newcastle, I am so glad I have discovered it. Their supply of plants and trees is so unique and beautifully curated, and the energy is amazing, it is like an oasis of peace and love.

What are you reading / watching / listening to now?

I am just starting How Music Works by David Byrne, studying The Body is the Barometer of the Soul by Annette Noontil, Manage Your Menopause Naturally, and Queen Menopause by Alison Daddo. Listening to my favourite podcasts Purpose by Jay Shetty, Basement by Gianluca Gazzoli and One More Time by Luca Casadei.

If you’re needing a short break away from Newcastle, where do you go and why?

It would be Sydney. I feel so at home because I feel alive, I love the architecture and designs, I love to explore and visit all the exhibitions happening at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, MCA, and the little galleries all around.

I love just getting lost around the city. I always walk all around, getting tired but feeling fulfilled with the beauty, trees, architecture of the houses, and bits and bobs you would never see from a car, a bus, or a taxi.

And I love to try and discover new cafes and restaurants for breakfast and dinner. I always come back fulfilled, inspired, and nurtured even if it is only for 48 hours.

What’s your go-to playlist?

I do not have a go-to playlist, though I create them for our pop-up nights!

I love jazz, old and contemporary. I love world music and classical, and I love listening to piano concerts, reggae, hip hop, blues, indie, trip-hop, soul, and pop sometimes so I can dance and jump in the house alone and with Marley. In the past few weeks, I have discovered the voice of Teddy Swims and he is incredible.

What would you like to see more of in Newcastle?

More interesting art exhibitions, more art and culture, more multi-ethnicities, more smiles, more open-air live music concerts, ballet, dance, and above all more authenticity.

Lucky last – who would you recommend we interview next for SPILL?

The owner of Savant Apothecary or High Swan Dive.