The Pisconeri Family are amongst the pioneers of the food and coffee culture in Western Australia. Three brothers Nicola, Giuseppe and Don made it their business to bring the best of Italy to Perth.
Nicola's experience had been shaped several years before when he served as an Assault trooper in Africa Orientale ( Ethiopia) in 1935 - 36, where he was wounded in action. Always inventive, he modified a discarded shell-casing from a 75mm howitzer, and roasted coffee harvested from the wild stands of Arabica that were plentiful in the Ethiopian highlands. Following his African experiences, he emigrated to Australia, and (luckily) avoided internment during the Second World War due to his skills as a mechanic and welder. This period allowed him to work and send for his brothers and sisters who were still in Italy and laid the foundations for his future plans.
Guiseppe as well had his gastronomic military adventures, serving as a cook in the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) at a Venetian naval base before moving to join his brother in Australia.
Having its early beginnings in 1951 as a grocer and delicatessen in Northbridge, the Pisconeri brothers began to import their own produce, from wheels of fragrant Reggiano cheese to syrupy aged balsamic vinegars in wooden casks. Not long after, coffee roasting and ice-cream making equipment followed from Italy.
The influx of Italian and Greek migrants created many opportunities for the fratelli Pisconeri, being able to provide the kind of foods many of the eager Europeans thought they had left behind in a shattered Europe. Surprisingly (to the brothers at least) many of the original customers were allied ex - servicemen who had acquired a taste for espresso during the North African and Italian campaigns of World War 2
It was hard work. Possibly the hardest workers were Sebastiana and Maria, the wives of Nicola and Giuseppe. In addition to the demanding hours at the bar downstairs, upstairs they managed to raise seven children between them! In 1967 the family grew, when current Managing Director Giuseppe De Leo joined the company. Soon after he and Caterina, Nicola’s eldest daughter, were married.
Throughout the fifties, sixties and seventies the Pisconeri brothers kept the Granita, gelato and Pisconeri Supermiscela coffee (still roasted today!) flowing. They also provided, for want of a better expression ‘gelato for the soul’ as Bar Pisconeri became an important social outlet for Northbridge residents, and the coffee lounge, after Sunday Mass at St Brigid’s was a busy and happy place to be.
Today under the management of Joseph De Leo, Albert Pisconeri and Doni Pisconeri, Pisconeri Wholesalers Pty Ltd is a family run, third generation business with the same personal care and attention to the customer as 50 years ago. And their commitment to their loyal clients and to importing the highest quality foods, wines and coffees from Europe and the world remains as strong as ever.
"Quality and service are the two most important things in a business like ours" says Albert Pisconeri, Director and son of one of the founders Giuseppe Pisconeri. "we have been in business for over 50 years, and we’ll be here for another 50. If we keep our focus on our customers, everything else will follow.”