Fabrizio Fiaschi is the owner of Amaretto Delicatessen in Norwich – said to be one of the nation’s best-loved Italian independents. With the deli celebrating its 15th birthday this month, he explains how the deli has managed to thrive, despite an ‘intense’ past few years
It’s fair to say that it’s been a challenging few years for small businesses. Which is why any success stories are worth celebrating. Fabrizio Fiaschi from Tuscany bought Amaretto Delicatessen, formerly known as The General Store, in May 2008, transforming the deli-kitchen into one of the nation’s best-loved Italian independents. Situated opposite St Andrew’s Hall, and just down from the Norwich University of the Arts, the deli won runner-up Best Deli in the national English Italian Awards in 2017 – the judges praising the deli’s authenticity and delicious Italian food which remains a staple of the business. Fabrizio also stocks plenty of local produce, saying that sourcing the best local food is vital to any Italian deli’s success.
Amaretto Delicatessen celebrates its fifteenth birthday this month, which is quite an achievement, given the last three years or so. Fabrizio says: ‘We would really like to thank our customers and everyone who has supported us over the last few years in particular.’
Famous for its fast-moving lunch time queue, and the array of cakes, pastries, sandwiches, fresh pizza and hot food on display every day, Amaretto has focussed on keeping quality high, as well as innovating over the years, bringing in much more vegan and gluten-free food – and they now offer loyalty cards and student discounts. The pandemic also provoked changes, as he explains: ‘We had to move quickly during the lockdowns; that’s when we started selling online food and hampers. It’s great as now the hampers have become a really special part of the business: people choose what they want online and we deliver across NR1-7 – they’re really popular presents, particularly at Christmas time.’
People also really enjoy using the outdoor tables these days, and Fabrizio says that, in recent years, they’ve really expanded their customer base, now reaching people who’d never heard of them before. He loves how buzzy it is in the shop: ‘It’s been an intense few years but we’re thriving thanks to our loyal customers, brilliant staff, and those local organisations that have helped us out including St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich City Council and the Norwich University of the Arts and their students. People really stuck with us during the pandemic, and we do appreciate that. Our staff and customers are what make this job worth doing, the feeling of community you get here in Norwich: that’s what gets me up in the morning.’
Asa Wetherell, who leads the Amaretto kitchen and has been working in Amaretto for over 13 years, agrees, saying: ‘I really enjoy working in Amaretto as there’s an amusing, happy environment in the shop. It’s busy, it’s staffed full of characters and the shop itself is in a lovely part of Norwich. You’re right around the corner from Elm Hill opposite a Medieval church (St Andrew’s Hall). We love it here.’