Originally Italian since 1961
Founded by two brothers, Ennio and Isidoro Camisa, London's first real Italian food store opened back in 1929, originally situated on Berwick Street, Soho. The heart of London was already a popular stomping ground for many Italian immigrants, especially those who opposed Mussolini's fascist government at the time, often using Italian shops as meeting points.
During the war, however, many Italian immigrants living in the United Kingdom were captured and held in camps across the country and the Camisa brothers ended up being held firstly in Surrey followed by Bury as they awaited the Foreign Office's decision on their fate (of which one option was to be boarded on the Arandora Star and head to Canada). The shop on Berwick Street was subsequently closed down circa 1939.
The Camisa brothers were unhappy when they discovered that they were not on the list of Italians to be sent to Canada and instead were amongst groups imprisoned on the Isle of Man. This might have been the best option, by luck, as the Arandora Star was sunk in the Atlantic Ocean by a German submarine, just days after their landing on the Isle of Man, to the cost of 730 lives on-board the luxury 'liner.
After the war had ended, circa 1948, the Camisa brothers returned to Soho, deciding to reopen the shop and relocate around the corner on Old Compton Street where the shop still stands today - at this point the shop was named 'Fratelli Camisa', or Brothers Camisa, tradition of almost all family businesses. The shop became the talking point of all Londoners, from all different backgrounds, and was heralded for its already vast selection of imported Italian specialities, many of which couldn't be found anywhere else in the UK.
The shop's resounding nationwide success, unfortunately, led to a family feud between the Camisa brothers and, consequently, they parted ways and the name 'Fratelli Camisa' was decomissioned. Isidoro kept the shop on Old Compton Street, rebranding it as 'I Camisa & Son', while Ennio opened up his own store close by on Charlotte Street. During this period Isidoro of I Camisa & Son, together with the aid of his son, reigned thanks to his passion and desire to continue providing London with a true taste of Italy. Pressure amounted on brother Ennio who then, together with his own son, decided to close the Charlotte Street shop and relocate to Hertfordshire.
Today, I Camisa & Son is known worldwide, partly thanks to the invention of the internet, with many tourists making the deli one of their destinations during their visit. Visitors and customers alike are welcomed by typical warmth and aromas that can only be experienced, outside of Italy, at I Camisa & Son.
Although no longer run by a living descendant of Isidoro Camisa, we continue to carry the prestigious name and the deli is still managed with the original ethos of providing a real inimitable taste and feel of Italy, especially that of a local Italian 'salumeria' or 'generi alimentari'.