In pictures: Clapham Junction’s impressive new Italian deli and cafe, Prezzemolo & Vitale

6 mins read
Prezzemolo & Vitale - Credit: lavender-hill.uk

Prezzemolo & Vitale is the latest business to open in what used to be Debenhams’ beauty section at Clapham Junction – and brings a proper emporium of all things Italian – including a wide selection of cheese, meat and charcuterie, drinks, fruit and veg, and bakery produce. There’s also a cafe selling Morettino’s coffee and equipped with a generous supply of Sicilian specialties including Cassata, Cannoli and organic cakes, as well as a food-to-go offer including sandwiches, salads, cold cuts and cheeses, to eat in at the cafe or take away.

Prezzemolo & Vitale – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

Official opening was Monday last week (13 May), though a soft launch on Saturday allowed us all in for a sneak peek. Stock was still being loaded in and finishing touches were still being made, but even before things were fully complete there was no doubt that they have delivered an impressive product here, bright and smartly fitted out – quite a change from the rather tired look the premises had been taking in the later years as a department store.

They have made the most of the new windows – which (as reported two years ago by lavender-hill.uk) involved some substantial engineering work to remove the 1960s canopy over the pavement and recreate the bright Victorian high-ceilinged space.

Prezzemolo & Vitale – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

There’s plenty of room for indoor seating by the big windows, as well as a few outside tables. The original ceilings that go back to the first use of the space as Arding & Hobbs have been restored – including the careful plaster ornaments on the ceiling beams. The curiously-not-quite-flat floors that previously seemed to permeate a lot of the space in the Debenhams years have also finally been levelled out!

Prezzemolo & Vitale – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

This is a fine foods delicatessen, coupled with a cafe – strongly (but not exclusively) focussed on Italian produce, and all displayed to a high standard. It’s clearly backed by a heavyweight supply chain effort behind the scenes, which means that there’s a lot of distinctly Italian produce here that you won’t find anywhere else.

Prezzemolo & Vitale – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

The owners are Giusi Vitale and Giuseppe Prezzemolo, ‘a couple in life and work’, who are unashamedly foodies. Their aim is to combine the variety speed and convenience of a high street supermarket, with a selection of food and wine of much higher quality, and close roots to its production. There’s an assortment of baked goods, some niche high-end products, and also a more mainstream selection of Italian brands that everyone will recognise.

Prezzemolo & Vitale – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

The centre of the store is dominated by a large and colourful assortment of fruit and vegetables – they bring a new consignment in from Italy at least every week. They import some of the most unusual and characteristic products, such as unusual Marsala black tomatoes or very-rare Vanilla-tasting Ribera oranges, straight from Sicily.

Prezzemolo & Vitale – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

Towards the back is, of course, a wide mix of pasta, sauces and and olive oils – with a mix of well regarded Italian brands including Alce Nero, Rummo, Campisi & Barbera.

Prezzemolo & Vitale – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

A maybe more unusual find is the fairly extensive selection of Prezzemolo & Vitale’s own brand of Italian ice cream – including Gianduja, Fior di Panna, and Tiramisu.

Prezzemolo & Vitale – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

There’s a selection of drinks including a wide range of soft drinks and lemonades (including our personal favourite, Chinotto, whose presence in any business is is a sure sign of Italian influence behind the scenes!) – as well as a mix of both well-known Italian and international wines, and smaller more exclusive ones created by small Italian producers.

Prezzemolo & Vitale – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

The owners take a lot of pride in their fresh bread, which is locally made in London by a baker who developed his trade in Altamura – a town near Bari whose knotted rural-style bread is widely revered in Italy as the best bread in the business, and which has protected-origin status. They expect to sell a lot of classic sweet Sicilian pastries (many prepared at Prezzemolo’s Wimbledon base) to take away as well as to have in the cafe; though the offer isn’t wholly Italian – there’s also a decent range of French patisseries and more classic English cakes.

Prezzemolo & Vitale – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

One thing you can’t miss is that this is a business very firmly rooted in Sicily! The business was born soon after Giusi and Giuseppe first met in 1982, when they opened a small shop in Palermo, Sicily, called Fratelli Prezzemolo. They had some family experience to build on – Guisi’s father had previously owned a small business affiliated with the large-scale food distribution circuit. That first shop traded well – and allowed the pair to explore their love of, and interest in, Sicilian food, with years of travelling in Italy all the time keeping an eye out for short supply chains and interesting niche products. Over time they expanded, opening a series of larger and more central shops in the city, all focussed on high quality, authentic foods from quality cured meats to fresh fruit and vegetables.

Today they have seven stores in Palermo; the Street View photo below shows one – they’re in the city centre as well as some of the quieter residential suburbs well off the tourist track. More recently the couple have started to grow the business in London – opening shops in Borough Market, Wimbledon Village, the King’s Road, and Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill – and now their fifth venture in Clapham Junction.

Prezzemolo & Vitale in Italy – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

So it’s a warm welcome to this interesting and enthusiastic new business, which feels well suited to the area and should do well. Landing Prezzemolo & Vitale as a tenant is also a good move by the building;s developers and landlords W.RE – who have spent several years (and many millions – we’ve written about it all many times) redeveloping the old Arding & Hobbs department store in to modern offices, with shops & leisure uses in the basement, ground and first floor.

Botanica Hall was the first tenant to open in the refurbished Arding & Hobbs

It follows the opening of Botanica Hall next door (pictured below – and which has been busy from the start), and brings something interesting, and a bit different, to Clapham Junction. In both cases, it’s fair to say that W.RE’s efforts to redevelop the premises properly, and work with the building’s remaining features and architecture to restore its original elegance and scale, have done the building justice and helped land good quality tenants that will support the continued success of the town centre.

Botanica Hall – Credit: CJI

You could say that we had a bit of a lucky escape here, as we understand the tenant originally pencilled in for the spot was Amazon, when they were expanding their AmazonFresh chain of cashier-less supermarkets. There’s nothing wrong with Amazon, who already the owners of popular WholeFoods Market just round the corner (and even expanded it a few years back) – and chances are that business woudl also have worked in a spot as busy as this – but there’s no denying that this new opening is far more of a draw to the town centre than another supermarket offering a relatively standard range of convenience produce would have been.

Third Space – Credit: lavender-hill.uk

Finally, it’s all coming together again for our landmark Arding & Hobbs building. The next opening will be the luxury Third Space gym just round the corner, whose reception is now open for early membership enquiries and site tours (details here); as we have reported that is also set to be quite an impressive space.

Thirdspace in Arding & Hobbs, first floor – Credit: Artist’s impression on Planning Application 2023/3804

The final piece of the jigsaw will be the letting of the new office space on the upper floors, now equipped with smart reception area, generous roof terrace and some very light and bright spaces in the two-storey extension added to the roof. As yet there’s no news on that front, but we’ll keep you posted.

Prezzemolo & Vitale are at 99 St John’s Rd, London SW11 1QY, moments away from Clapham Junction station. 

This article has been published in partnership with the community site lavender-hill.uk.  You can read their previous articles on the long running redevelopment of the Arding & Hobbs / Debenhams building, or on shops and food & drink traders in the Lavender Hill area.

Do you think what we are doing is helping the community and you want to encourage us to do more?

Your help means we can spend more time researching stories, talking to contacts, sitting through meetings and writing stories. Any money given will support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in area of Clapham Junction. Battersea, Wandsworth and around.

Support us, help us to expand: subscribe to CJI with a monthly donation


Monthly amount needed to make it sustainable:

We'd be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.