“Are you Molly? The journalist girl?” yells Nev Pellicci as soon as I step through the door into a packed E Pellicci on Bethnal Green road. “Alright, come on in, take a seat over there.”

“Everyone say hi to Molly,” he hollers after I sit down. “Hi Molly!”, the diners trill back. “What can I get you? A coffee? Breakfast?” I insist just a coffee will be fine, but he refuses, bringing me not only an enormous cup of joe, but also quite possibly the biggest full English I’ve ever seen, complete with fried bread and bubble and squeak, before returning to his post behind the till, directing customers, taking payments and generally ensuring an infectiously jolly environment.

I’m here to interview Nev’s sister, Anna Pellicci. However, someone was unwell and Anna has been pulled into the kitchen alongside her mother, Maria, daughter of the original owners Priamo Pellicci and his wife, the eponymous Elide Pellicci. And so I sit and eat and wait until the influx of customers quietens down enough for Anna to leave the kitchen for a short chat. Except this is E Pellicci, so the steady stream of hungry visitors almost never dies down.

As the length of time I might be waiting for becomes apparent, I settle in with my impressive plate of food, my coffee and a book. The latter is mainly for show, masking my flagrant people watching and eavesdropping until I end up deep in conversation with a young tourist from Philadelphia, whom I watch have a transformative experience with her first ever Full English.

It’s this kind of intangibly joyous and eclectic atmosphere that makes E Pellicci so wonderful. As Anna puts it when she sits down with me, “Cities are becoming so socially and emotionally detached from people. But when you come in here, you’re forced to talk to people. People from every corner of the globe come in and so many friendships have been made.” Nev echoes this when I leave later in the morning. “It’s about community. Now that you’ve come here and you’ve met us, you could ask us to hold your keys for the plumber that’s coming because you need to be at work, or you could just come by when you’re having a bad day. It’s about having that community connection.”

E Pellicci has been sitting in this same spot on Bethnal Green Road since 1900, when Anna and Nev’s grandfather took over the space after his former employer moved back to Italy. In a recent Vittles article it was described “as if the rest of the city has been built around it”.

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It’s easy to see why from the outside; it sits in a squat little building, barely looking tall enough to house its two levels, dwarfed not just by the taller Victorians around it, but also the towering skyscrapers of Liverpool Street and the City of London that you can see as you approach down Bethnal Green Road. But stepping inside is a whole different story. The room is entirely lined with intricate wooden panelling, the kind of wall decor that you simply know has a fair few stories to tell.

“We’ve got a Grade II listing,” Anna explains. “In the 1940s, this area was known for carpentry, but it would all go up to the fancy shops in the West End and abroad. There was this one guy who was supposed to be the bee’s knees. See that one?” she says, gesturing to a panel along the wall, “He made that for my nonna. She asked him to do the whole caff, but she didn’t have the money. So he did it panel by panel over time. He’d do a panel, and she’d pay him. Then she’d save up for the next one, he’d make it and she’d pay him again.”

When you come in here, you’re forced to talk to people. People from every corner of the globe come in and so many friendships have been made.

The café almost seems like a tapestry of history, each little piece woven together in a patchwork of the decades this venue has lived through. Take, for example, the butter yellow exterior. The top half, where the sign sits, is made from vitrolite glass, a material that hasn’t been in production since the late 20th century. About three years ago, a piece of it got cracked – not exactly an easy thing to replace when it hasn’t been made for almost half a century.

But this is E Pellicci, and I get the impression that one way or another, things will always fall into place. “I couldn’t find it anywhere,” Anna tells me. “I must have emailed about 100 stained glass places.” She ended up finding it purely by chance from a company in Chelsea, who’d relocated from Bethnal Green decades previously and had four pieces of vitrolite they’d never got rid of.

While E Pellicci might draw you in with its history and its rambunctious attitude, this would all feel kitschy if the food didn’t stand up to the mark. Thankfully it does. Sitting somewhere on the ‘Britalian’ side of things, you’ll find someone eating a Full English sitting alongside a table chowing down on hefty plates of penne drowned in rich, creamy homemade pesto or towering slices of lasagne.

Unsurprisingly, in line with the journey of the wider British palate, this wasn’t always the case. “Years ago, there wasn’t much food at all,” Anna tells me. “As I understood it was just eggs and bacon if you were lucky, maybe some tea and coffee, and we used to sell cigarettes and sweets. I remember even when I started serving we’d do spaghetti bolognese, and people would ask ‘Is there garlic in it?’ And my mum would go, ‘Anna, tell them there’s not, they won’t know the difference.’ And then they’d go ‘Oh, this is lovely!’”

At this point, Anna’s mother Maria comes through the door from the kitchen, and Anna quickly introduces us, jumping between Italian and English. “She’s been working in that kitchen for more than 50 years,” Anna says to me. “She’s 81 and she’s still here. Every morning she comes in and she cuts the chips by hand, she makes all the pies,” she pauses, pointing into the display case by the till, “and that chocolate roly poly, and that jam tart.”

Maria seems almost like a representation of E Pellicci itself. The spirit of the Pellicci family is so tangible, and it seems to have welded the café to the area for the last 122 years. You can almost image a film montage of this stretch of Bethnal Green Road, buildings rising and falling, demographics ebbing and flowing, pavement being laid, skyscrapers appearing like mirages in the distance and in amongst it all, largely unchanged and preserved in time, is E Pellicci, watching it all pass by.