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FOOD & DRINK

Johnny Fontane's

Darlinghurst's Godfather-inspired bar where you can eat Chicago deep-dish and smoke cigars.
By Jasmine Crittenden
March 09, 2017
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Johnny Fontane's

Darlinghurst's Godfather-inspired bar where you can eat Chicago deep-dish and smoke cigars.
By Jasmine Crittenden
March 09, 2017
  shares

Darlinghurst's newest bar is a paean to Johnny Fontane: crooner, film star and godson of Vito Corleone (better known as The Godfather). It's also Sydney's first home of the Chicagoan deep-dish pizza.

"It's not quite a pie and not quite a pizza," says Thomas Derricott (founder, Catmosphere), who co-owns Johnny Fontane's with Andy Curtis (owner, The Bear Bar). "The ingredients of a pizza are crammed, upside-down, into a pie dish."

For example, The Capone — an old-school recipe — is pizza crust layered over mozzarella cheese, meatballs, herbs and sauce. Head chef Cy Gwynne (ex-Longrain) has also come up with three versions of his own, including The Lucchese, with pesto-marinated chicken, and The Gambino, with marinated field mushroom, for veggos. Plus, there's a bunch of traditional Italian fare, such as arancini, pasta and antipasto.

Meanwhile, Curtis's drinks list specialises in signature cocktails based on Italian spirits. Nonna's Lemon Pie is made up of Absolut Citron Vodka, crème de cacao white, vanilla and lemon syrups, shaken with lemon juice and egg white, while The Flamingo is amaretto, white chocolate liqueur, Massenez fraise, strawberry puree and crème freche, topped with grated Milky Bar. Also expect some creative takes on classics, such as a Negroni with tequila and lime.

Don't turn up at Johnny Fontane's expecting to find all sorts of Godfather paraphernalia, though. This isn't a themed bar, but a re-imagining of the kind of shady joint that the 1940s Mafioso would've chosen as their hangout, splashed with hints of The Rat Pack and the Swing Era.

The design was the work of Belinda Cendron, aka The Sourceress, who's styled for the Baxter Inn, Shady Pines and The Winery. "She has a kind of mad genius vibe about her," says Derricott. "She was great to work with."

There are four distinct spaces. In The Rat Pack-inspired main bar, look out for CDs in place of coasters and a wooden horse's head in honour of that infamous bed scene. Walk through to the courtyard and "you're travelling back in time to Fontane's Sicilian heritage," Derricott says. "It's a garden, with vines, citrus trees and a terracotta palette."

Upstairs is a gangster lounge, with dark, sleek furniture and mug shots of Mafia leaders, as well as a deck dedicated to cigar-smoking. "It's inspired by pre-revolutionary Cuba, with bright yellow walls and flowers," Derricott says. "On one side, there's a view of the city skyline and, on the other, a quintessential Darlinghurst alley way. The glamour of the city is contrasted with a gritty depiction of what it's like behind-the-scenes."

Drop by in the early evening and you'll be drinking to mellow swing and Italian jazz. Come darkness, the soundtrack picks up pace, with lively swing, mixed with hip-hop from Jurassic Five, A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie Smalls and the like. Keep a look out for live gigs, too.

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