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Shop local: Forest Gate wine bar and deli opens in honour of family matriarch

PUBLISHED: 17:00 06 November 2020

Alessandro De Dea and Victoria Palazzo with a photograph of her late grandmother Giovanna whose name appears above the door of the Forest Gate deli and wine bar. Picture: Jon King

Alessandro De Dea and Victoria Palazzo with a photograph of her late grandmother Giovanna whose name appears above the door of the Forest Gate deli and wine bar. Picture: Jon King

Archant

If you thought starting a business in normal times was tough, imagine how it must be in a pandemic.

Giovanna moved to Forest Gate from Italy in the 1950s and opened the Windsor Restaurant before launching Marco’s Café in Victoria Dock Road, Custom House. Picture: Victoria PalazzoGiovanna moved to Forest Gate from Italy in the 1950s and opened the Windsor Restaurant before launching Marco’s Café in Victoria Dock Road, Custom House. Picture: Victoria Palazzo

But partners Alessandro De Dea and Victoria Palazzo have done just that offering freshly baked pizza, wine and Italian produce at Giovanna’s Deli and Wine in Forest Gate.

Victoria and Alessandro – Alex – started out on the venture last year and had planned to open in April. But lockdown meant they had to down tools.

Alex, with a background in wine distribution, and Victoria, who worked in the not for profit sector including at Caritas Anchor House, are both carrying on family traditions in hospitality.

While Alex’s parents ran a hotel in the Dolomites not far from Italy’s border with Austria, Victoria’s late grandmother, Giovanna, ran Marco’s Café in Victoria Dock Road, Custom House, while raising seven children.

Giovanna's Deli and Wine offers pizza, cured meats, breads, cheeses and more. Picture: Jon KingGiovanna's Deli and Wine offers pizza, cured meats, breads, cheeses and more. Picture: Jon King

The new venue in Woodgrange Road is named in honour of the family matriarch who moved to Forest Gate in the 1950s.

Giovanna set up the Windsor Restaurant before concluding there was more demand for a greasy spoon.

Her name now appears in gold above the deli’s door, but instead of bangers and mash, the offer includes imported Italian cured meats, breads, pastas, cheeses and wine.

Much is delivered fresh each week from independents in line with the business’s ethos to support smaller, artisan producers.

Giovanna's was going to open back in April but lockdown meant it was delayed. The doors finally opened on October 13. Picture: Jon KingGiovanna's was going to open back in April but lockdown meant it was delayed. The doors finally opened on October 13. Picture: Jon King

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Business went well after the grand opening on October 13. But launching in the middle of a pandemic has had its challenges. As with many businesses, the second lockdown has forced Giovanna’s to adapt.

Victoria, 33, speaking before the government announced the national lockdown, said “It’s a very challenging time to open a business.

“We don’t know if we’ll have to go through another lockdown. It’s hard to make decisions from a medium or long term perspective because we don’t know what will happen.”

However, Alex, 34, who holds two Guinnes World Records for the largest pot of mulled wine and biggest polenta, added that the beauty of running a small business means it can adapt quickly.

Eventually, the aim is to become a hub for the community besides offering live music and exhibition space.

Thrilled to be open at last, the venture has demonstrated the power of community, as Victoria said: “Every single person that has come in has been so nice. Everyone wishes us well.”

And carrying on Giovanna’s tradition? “It’s been emotional,” Victoria said.

During lockdown, Giovanna’s shop remains open as usual with a pizza takeaway service available by collection.

There is also a hot drinks and cakes takeaway service as well as wine packages available by collection or delivery (Fridays only).

Orders can be made over the phone on 020 8616 9800 or via Instagram @giosgaff


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