Today, this old Italian neighbourhood, replete with it's renowned Italian accent and it’s very own Juventus football club, feels like New York's Williamsburg or London’s Hackney did 10 years ago. At the start of the 20th Century, Mooca was once so brimming with Italian immigrants that two out of three residents were Italian. The majority worked in vast warehouses to produce textiles and construction materials. These warehouses, later abandoned like those in New York’s Brooklyn borough, are increasingly being renovated to form lofty apartments, stylish office buildings and commercial spaces surrounded by the original Italian ice-cream parlours and coffee shops. Even the Museu da Imigração, once São Paulo's answer to Ellis Island, has recently been renovated and is now a handsome museum dedicated to the Brazilian immigrant experience and the immigrants that passed through it.
If you want to keep a fresh eye on Mooca on Instagram make sure to follow Jacqueline Brizida's beautiful neighbourhood photography @instamooca or for local happenings follow @vivamooca. So before gentrification gets the better of this unique old neighbourhood, here is our insider's guide to the best new spots as well as some authentic traditional hangouts.
For your morning bread run go to Padaria Carillo, a fourth generation Italian bakery that makes particularly good stuffed focaccia. For the new face of pizza in Mooca head to lively A Pizza da Mooca for craft beers and Neapolitan style pies but for the old face of pizza head to Pizzaria São Pedro, which was founded in the 1960s and is famous for its thinner Roman style crusts. For the hottest table in the neighbourhood go to impressive young chef Fellipe Zanuto's post-industrial Hospederia serving dishes inspired by the immigrants the neighbourhood is known for but try save space for a wander over the street to the original Di Cunto padaria to pick up some of their cannoli that are always fresh out of the ovens.
But let's get serious now - street food aficionados know that, in fact, the finest cannoli in São Paulo can only be found on match days in the stands at the Juventus stadium prepared by the legendary 'Seu' Antonio Cannoli (perhaps rivalled only by Cannoleria Alexandre Leggieri in São Paulo's other Italian district of Bela Vista).
If you need a break from the Italian food head to Esfiha Juventus for a traditional middle eastern meal while the gentrification continues with delicious gourmet burgers at Cadillac Burger and even new Hawaiian poké spot Poke Club. Or just take a break from all the eating over a traditional Italian wet shave from Belo Cabelo (read more - The barbers of São Paulo). Drink.
Spill out onto the pavement at the long standing Bar Quintal da Mooca for a traditional local scene with plenty of football chat. For specialty beers and incredible artisanal Brazilian ham, salami and cheeses head to Cateto, who have also just opened a second bar in Pinheiros. For a sloppy late night chopp (ice cold draft beer) and even more football conversations head to the institution of Elidio. For an underground bar, check what sets are playing at eccentric art and event space Disjuntor. Although it recently ended, keep an eye on the social media feeds of BTNK Bar for their next venture as their impressive debut popup serving delicious cocktails hidden in a disused railway wagon bodes well for the future...