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Canberra’s taste of Italy: Italian Continental Bakery & Cafe

Nip Wijewickrema
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I have one word for you, Canberra. Cannoli.

You know, the singular tube of absolute deliciousness?  Italian pastry filled with a sweet creamy custard filling and dusted with a little icing sugar?

I can assure you though, the only thing singular about it is the tube, and definitely not the amount I may or may not have inhaled in one sitting.

The Italian Continental Bakery & Café is Canberra’s dose of Italy, minus the long flight, busy airports and expensive price tag. It is also conveniently located in Mawson, right near all the kids’ weekend sporting fields.

The café is quite the family affair with the father and son duo taking the reigns to produce every kind of Italian food, under the sun. Mum is head chef and I’m told her expertise and passion can only be rivalled by her own husband’s cakes. (Nothing like some friendly competition in the family, hey?!)

I arrive, on a weekday afternoon. It seems like a slow afternoon but the displays are bare. I chat to Trent, the bakery’s manger of six years and he tells me that I need to basically camp outside in the morning to make sure I get my hands on the freshest Italian pastries in town. Apparently, the display cabinets were bursting at the seams in the morning, but by about 1pm they’re pretty much all gone. (Gee, thanks for leaving me some, Canberra!)

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So, camp I do, on a Saturday morning. I’m left competing with the soccer mums and dads, and even more frightening- the soccer boys and girls. (Note to self, don’t get in the way of a 8-year old soccer player and a cannoli).

The café is buzzing with energy and a steady line, of little and big people, craving Italian goodness snakes around and outside the café.

It feels, sounds and smells like a café, but it’s soooo much more than that.

It’s a meeting point, home and a place to share sporting wins and losses, delicious food and wonderful coffee. I, myself, don’t have kids (far from it really!) but I have to say, I could totally see how this could easily become my saviour on frosty Saturday mornings filled with kids’ sporting activities.

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The myth is true fellow Canberrans. You can find a little taste of Italy right here in the capital, I promise.

The Italian Continental Bakery and Café have traditional Italian cakes and pastries as well as an authentic Italian lunch menu. The menu is jam packed with veal and chicken dishes, risotto, salads, bruschetta, focaccias and enough pasta to send my thighs into a fit of glee. The gnocchi and ricotta ravioli is made on site, from scratch, which gets huge brownie points from me. Trent starts listing the diverse range of Italian sweets—Torciglione, Cannoli, Sfogliatelle, Ciambelle, Apolline, and Zeppole…but to be perfectly honest, he had me at Cannoli.

We arrive for breakfast and the usual suspects; bacon, eggs, sausages, pancakes and bread are all on the cards. Many families around me are tucking into the big breakfast. I must admit though, I’m more interested in the dessert cabinet. It’s a Sunday. I can have dessert for breakfast, right?

Along with the Cannoli I’ve been flapping on about throughout this article, I spy cronuts, doughnuts, macarons, apple turnovers, croissants, profiteroles, éclairs, pastries and just about every slice I could dream of.

I begin to get nervous about making a decision.

With a crippling case of food envy, I always feel the need to deliberate for hours to ensure I choose the right option. My “I’ll take one of everything” isn’t socially acceptable so I opt for a Cannoli and cherish every bite. As someone that used to hate coffee and has slowly morphed into a person that dreams of a coffee IV drip, the Lavazza coffee is a massive drawcard. You can tell it’s a saviour for many parents who are stuck on the sporting fields for hours on end over the cold winter weekends.

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Canberra’s little Italy has been here for years, but after their shopfront facelift, The Italian Continental Bakery and Café is a Southside gem. The family love can be felt miles away and it’s exactly a place you’d want to take your family. You may need to camp outside however, but I can assure you it’s totally worth the wait.

The essentials

Place: Italian Continental Bakery & Café

Where: Shop 1, Mawson Place, Mawson

When: Open 7.30am to 5.30pm Tuesday through Friday; and 8.00am to 3.30pm Saturday and Sunday

Find them on Facebook

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Nip Wijewickrema

Nip Wijewickrema is a journalism graduate from the University of Canberra who currently works in Communications. When she's not working, she's wearing one of her many onesies, eating delicious food or delivering flowers with her beautiful sister, Gayana who has Down Syndrome. The more flowers GG's Flowers sell, the more people with disabilities they can hire. More about the Author

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