Three years ago, a boarded-up shop occupied this now-thronging corner of the square. Its owner, who had stoically seen the area was fought over by squatters and developers, had retired; the squatters won and created a peaceful network of streets abundant with greenery and a mildly eccentric personality. Into this scene stepped Charlie, with no retail experience but an abiding passion for Italian produce and a fan of the square, after soaking up the atmosphere from the Bonnington Café opposite. He, with his friend Luigi – whose own family had closed their deli not far away – decided to create their own shop. “I have a very strong dislike of expensive food shops and that whole Borough Market thing – the effect where quality translates into high prices and exclusivity,” says Charlie now. “People can feel excluded from the food revolution going on.”
They don’t at Italo. The shop stocks essentials and store-cupboard basics (unusual and good-quality brands, often Italian), along with wine, Rococo chocolates (owner Chantal Coady was once a Bonnington activist) and treats including Gelato Delight ice-creams – worth a detour alone.