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A Little Bit About

Both my sister and I have always been passionate about all things Italian, in particular, its food and culture,” says Bettina Rabbitte, Managing Director, Little Italy, Ireland’s leading supplier of quality Italian food and wine for over 40 years, “This is how we were raised.”

Everyone knows that “family” is such an important part of Italian life and Bettina and Marisa’s parents, Sylvester Rabbitte and Anna Senezio, understood this. They met in the 1960’s when Sylvester sold food produce to Dublin’s famous Pillar Ice Cream Parlour on O’Connell Street, where Anna worked, the business owned at the time by Anna’s parents Attillio and Benedetta.

Having spent time travelling to Italy on business and also to Anna’s family hometown in Cervaro, Italy, Sylvester grew to appreciate the Italian way of life, the people, family ethics, hardwork and of course its food and culture.

“In the 1970’s Sylvester exported produce to Scotland, the Italian fast food businesses there being an important customer at that time” recalls Marisa, “and then brought Italian foods back from Scotland for our own family use.” This ignited the idea of importing produce directly from Italy and the couple founded their first Italian retail food business in Smithfield in 1976 which largely supplied Italian imported food and wine for the Italian community living in Dublin at the time.

By 1990, the Smithfield business which was now renamed Little Italy Ltd was very much established, thanks to Italia 90, the love affair between Italy and Ireland was brought to a whole new level whereby the Irish supporters returned with a newfound appetite for Italian food and culture.

“We participated in the RDS World Cup events with a small stall selling antipasto platters, cheeses and vino,” says Marisa. “People were having Italian-themed parties in their homes, while restaurants and bars were also getting into the Italian spirit. It was a brilliant time and Italian food became more popular than ever, and when the Irish supporters came back from Italy, they still chose to eat Italian!”

In 1993, Little Italy moved to a new purpose-built premises on North King Street which provided a new shopping experience with a greater choice of products for both its retail and wholesale business.

Despite the passing of Anna in 1996 and more recently Sylvester earlier this year, the family spirit remains strong in its tradition and the business is continuing to grow assisted by its e-commerce website.

The Italian community still remain a sizeable part of Little Italy’s customer base and the company regularly sponsors events that highlight this culture, as well as participating in many food-related festivals, including Taste of Dublin, Catex, Love Italian Life and Eatyard. 

Today. Little Italy is regarded as Ireland’s leading Italian food and wine importer servicing hotels, cafés, restaurants, delicatessens and gourmet shops, as well as the general public through its Smithfield-based retail shop and online offering and regularly host in store events and tastings. 

True to their heritage and tradition, Bettina and Marisa are following their mother’s vision for the business and so Little Italy continues to develop always remembering where it came from and its purpose.

As It Happened

1976
Our First Shop
This is where it all began, we opening our first shop in Smithfield Square in 1976. Smithfield has changed so much since then…
1976
1988
Relocated to new premises
In 1988 we relocated to our new premises on 68 North King Street, we hosted a launch party in The Gresham Hotel, O’Connoll Street which hosted many of the Italian dances back in the day.
1988
1990
Italia' 90
1990 was a huge turning point for our business with the help of Italia ’90, it really put us on the map. This is one of our first ever vans! We really got into the spirit of Italia ’90, here’s a glimpse inside our shop. We also had a stall in the RDS selling wine and antipasto platters during the games which was great fun!
1990
1993
Relocation No2
Thanks to the boom of Italia ’90, we had to relocate to a much larger premises. In 1993 we moved to a purpose built warehouse on 139/140 North King Street, our home of today. The Italian Ambassador at the time, H.E. Fulvia Luisini, officially cut the ribbon at our launch party which was attended by family, friends and customers.
1993
1993
Launch Party
At our launch party, we were joined by some of our Italian suppliers as they showcased their products.
1993
2006
Taste of Dublin
We exhibited our produce at the first ever Taste of Dublin in 2006, held at Dublin Castle. We were thrilled to welcome Gino D'acampo to our stand as it reminded him of being home!
2006
2008
Under the Lights
In 2008, we were delighted when Richard Corrigan chose us to feature on his program to make a fresh pasta dish for Mary Black.
2008
2018
Love Italian Life Awards
In 2018 we sponsored the Love Italian Life Awards held in Dublin. Some of our best produce was used to create the dishes for the competing chefs along with matching wine pairings. It was an honour to collaborate with such esteemed Michelin star chefs such as Gaetano Trovato (2 stars) and Lorenzo Cogo (1 star)
2018
2019
2019 Eatyard Wine & Cheese Festival
We had a stand at the first ever Eatyard Wine & Cheese Festival which took place in the Iveagh Gardens, selling wine and antipasto platters.
2019
2020
We welcomed Martina Delaney
In 2020 Martina Delaney joined our team. Martina brings with her a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry not to mention her achievements as Wine Sommelier of the Year 2007 and 2011.
2020

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