La Trattoria on Norton will close its doors next weekend, its owner-chef Giovanni Spinazzola claiming Leichhardt's Little Italy is on its knees. Certainly The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide shows the suburb is shaky in the eyes of our reviewers.
Ten years ago the Guide championed 10 Leichhardt venues, but in the latest edition there is only one restaurant on the map (Aperitivo). Spinazzola has lived in the area since he was a child and worked early in his career at Elio, the restaurant that used to trade at the La Trattoria site.
"On a Saturday night we'd do around 120 to 130 [at Elio], now it is about 40. It isn't just us, when I speak to long-term tenants they say the last three years have been really tough." says Spinazzola, who earned hats working in Sydney's east before following his dream to open in his own neighbourhood. He believes other inner-west eating districts and the emergence of the CBD as a evening eating venue have pinched some of his diners.
"Little Italy is dead. With high rents and parking meters, it just doesn't help the situation," Spinazzola says.