1 Jul 2021

A visit to That’s Amore in Thomastown feels like a wander through a tiny village cafe in Italy. Friends greet the owner, Giorgio Linguanti, with a nod, a smile, a handshake or, in one case, a curtsy. He extends his hand and his smile to every customer.

In their one weekday, I watch couples, families and local workers, come and go for coffee or a snack all morning. Men come in for an espresso then pop back later in the day for a second one, just like in Sicily. Girlfriends chat over coffee and a cannoli, meetings are held over panini’s filled with locally sourced ham and squacquerone or an antipasto platter laden with cured meats, bread and That’s Amore cheese. I’m told that on weekends the car park is full and the cafe heaves with customers.

When Giorgio came to Australia from Sicily in 2004, he had been working in advertising. With limited English skills so he secured a job in a cheese factory. The owner held the secrets of cheesemaking close to his chest and wouldn’t share them with a curious Giorgio, whose brother eventually gave him an instruction book. Before long, Giorgio’s skills developed to match his enthusiasm.

From nothing, Giorgio has built an empire. That’s Amore is the only speciality Italian cheese maker in Australia with over 60 different cheeses. Over 100 people are employed in the factory and in the administrative side of the business. That’s Amore supplies some of Melbourne’s finest Spanish, Mexican, Indian, Asian, Italian, and even Korean, dining establishments and has contracts with over 900 restaurants around the country.

Before Giorgio’s arrival on the Melbourne food scene, most Italian cheese was made in bulk. His artisan style has certainly captured the hearts and stomachs of those fooderati. “We were the first people to make burrata, and the first to make Italian smoked cheeses (bocconcini),” he says proudly.

Over the past years, That’s Amore has been the winner of a plethora of awards. Giorgio proudly shows me his trophies from the Australian Grand Dairy Cheese Association Awards. He has received accolades for his fresh and specialty cheeses; Diavoletti, Mozzarella, smoked cheese, flavoured cheese, Buffalo Ricotta and so many more.

The team at That’s Amore is intent on teaching the public that cheese is far more than just a topping for pizza. They hold cooking masterclasses, demonstrating how to create spectacular dishes from the range of 60 cheeses. There are also classes onsite in Thomastown where people can learn to make cheese from milk, practice stretching mozzarella, or create tortellini or ravioli pasta with cheese. As long as it includes cheese, the team want their customers to know how to make it.

Giorgio is aware of the environmental impact of production in Ausralia and is determined to do all he can to limit his footprint. That’s Amore uses biodegradable packaging, it reuses delivery cartons, they offer glass milk bottle refills of fresh creamy milk and they even utilse the grape skins from a business partner’s winery (Nebbiolo skins from Vinea Marson in Heathcote are used for the Drunken Buffalo).

When I leave the deli it is with an esky filled with smoked mozzarella, drunken buffalo, bocconcini, caciotta and a cannoli making kit complete with pre-made shells, sweetened ricotta and crushed pistachio to dip the ends in. I know I’ll be back. Hospitality is everything and here in Thomastown, everyone in the cafe has the gift.

Keep an eye on the website for information about classes, gift vouchers and festivals.

Where to find That’s Amore

The address is 66 Latitude Blvd, Thomastown.