You know you’re in Hamilton when the local Italian cafe is staffed by genuine Italians.
As soon as you walk into ‘A Slice of Italy’ in Fairfield, you are hit with its European authenticity. Not faux-Euro authenticity in the form of chandeliers and overly-pretentious food options, but rather simple and tasty pizzas, croissants, & coffees. And of course, cheery staff with genuine European accents (and sincere interjections of ‘bellissima!’ here and there).
The most authentic part of this European experience was, for me, the tablecloths. Bizarre I know, but for once I was in a cafe with a cloth that is a sheet of plastic. Not some elaborate frilly thing bought off-the-rack at Smith & Caughey’s (via Guangzhou), but a plastic sheet with simple green and red checkers: the kind of tablecloths that Italian immigrants in America used to use for their cafes because they were, you know, actually from Italy.
The rest of the place is setup in a similarly European fashion. There are the stools with the obligatory newspapers and current affairs magazines, and outdoor tables where you can sit with your espresso and watch the world, and/or the police cars(this is still Fairfield after all), go by.
The cafe is an example of how one element can totally change the look of a neighbourhood. With this authentic Italian cafe in its vicinity the Vege King nearby suddenly looks like an open produce market, & the art deco ‘Fairfield Building’ opposite like a historical landmark.
If the suburb of Fairfield can capitalise on this with some other genuinely interesting eateries or stores, then they might have a real impact on changing the wider community’s largely unjustified perceptions of the area. Creating a kitsch alternative to the cheap, tired, & almost souless look of Five Cross Roads nearby. As it stands, with ‘Slice of Italy’, they’re off to a good start.