Locals praise Sassone’s

Locals praise Sassone’s
Rhonda Dredge

There’s a strong female team at Sassone’s on the waterfront at Yarra’s Edge, creating fierce loyalty among customers who have had the privilege of their dedication during the past two years.

According to locals, the restaurant stayed open seven days a week throughout six lockdowns.

“Fabulous coffee and a delicious, daily fresh take-away menu. Honestly, it kept many residents, including myself sane,” one resident told Docklands News.

“Just for once, I would love to have a small acknowledgement of Rita, family and amazing chef Jimmy.”

Mother and daughter team Rita and Rosetta steered the restaurant through the stormy waters of the past two years after the death of Frank, Rita’s husband and it has been an emotional time for them.

“He died the last day of February,” Rita said. “One week before lockdown we had the funeral. I was upstairs mourning. I got up and came down and did takeaway. I was doing the kitchen.”

While Rita found solace in cooking, Rosetta took over front of house. “We had to stay open for the locals. They supported us from day one. Day and night I’m always here,” she said.

As the business pivoted from large waterside destination to intimate takeaway, their home-cooked treats attracted attention.

“I learned how to cook sfini (Sicilian donuts) from my mother,” Rita said, and these became the drawcard, along with Italian-style souvlaki and arancini, as locals rallied to support the business. They sell about 300 donuts a week.

Being honest has helped Rita get through the difficult times. “This is the first time I’ve worked,” she said. “I got pretty tired. We had a big house, and I was looking after that and two kids. I used to go to lunches. I was a lady of leisure.”

Her world changed from being a stay-at-home mum with a big life, sometimes turning up for weddings at one of their three reception centres, to a small life attached to a takeaway.

Mother and daughter live in apartments above the restaurant and Rita’s granddaughter has just started working there as well.

Rita prides herself on being loyal to customers and staff. Several returned to get married at their reception centres and she has free coffee and sfini days for her customers.

Some locals have got so fired up about their special riverside location of Yarra’s Edge they’ve campaigned to break away from Docklands.

Rita is not in favour. “I get my customers from Docklands as well,” she said.

The restaurant has a capacity for 75 outside and 70 inside and host functions.

Their only problems sailing forward are the winds which make bookings outside difficult and staffing.

The restaurant will not be open for the full Christmas season unless they find a barista •

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