Back in 2016 I went through a phase of venturing out (solo) to comedy shows in the Melbourne CBD. I discovered a crew of comedians who exercised new material at local bars such as Spleen and the Crab Lab in the city. Usually being a last minute commitment to see the show, left me usually attending them alone. I didn't mind, I was there to see the people who made me laugh.
On one of these nights I went to Spleen bar to see a show, which finished around 11:30pm. I was going to drive home however, I was starving and in search of a quick bite to eat. Pellegrinis was open across the road so I popped over to indulge in some authentic Italian home cooked pasta. HEW's first photoshoot was at Pellegrinis. There was just something so magical about the cafe which stood in the heart of Melbourne CBD.
This was when I first met Sisto. He welcomed me inside with a warm and nurturing greeting as if I had walked into his living room, which is so rare these days (especially in the hustle and bustle of the CBD).
It was late so they weren't serving food anymore however, he could see I was alone and it was late so he offered to specially cook me up a dish (perhaps because my name was Emma which was the same name as one of the longest serving employees there). When Sisto asked if I wanted the tomato or the pesto based sauce I was unsure, he went to the effort of make both dishes so I could try both.
With two large dishes of pasta I sat with Sisto and spoke about life. He challenged my views on so many things and prompted me to open up about my love life or lack of it (lol). It was nice to see someone who took pride in their business especially his customers. He accomplished this without technology or social media by founding pleasure in the more traditional engagement of one on one conversations with his customers. He was the driving force behind Pellegrini's ongoing success within the fickle restaurant industry. I think everyone who went to Pellegrini's has had a special experience like me. Yes the pasta was absolutely delish but the experience I had was even better and rewarding.
When I heard about Sisto's death from the Bourke St Friday attack, I was so shocked and upset that such a beautiful soul was taken away from us so soon. After seeing the thousands of people who paid their respects at Pellegrini's two weeks ago, you can see the hole Sisto has left in the hearts of the people in Melbourne, but also left memories of his humbling and nurturing experiences which will never be forgotten.