Mille Vini (a thousand wines in Italian) doesn't look any different from the outside, or even the inside for that matter, so patrons might be surprised to find out that there's a new owner in town. But this cosy, dimly lit bar that serves up a mean Italian share plate (or stuzzichino) is still packed on a Friday night. Diners will still find themselves elbow to elbow with other diners, or on the bar area that is wide enough to eat at without spilling food all over yourself. There are two levels that can seat around 75, although it looks a lot smaller than that from the front.
The staff just can't be faulted for their attentiveness, and the vibe is like being in an authentic Italian bar. The fact that it's in an 1853 heritage-listed stonemason's building doesn't hurt either. This combined with the empty bottles on display, a bike riding up the wall towards the roof and the low-level lighting all add to the effect. It is recommended to book before you go, particularly on a Friday or Saturday.
The burrata ($16) — Italian artisan soft cheese with prosciutto and roma tomatoes — is an ideal accompaniment to a few drinks, although is a little hard to share given the delicious ooze factor of the burrata. Also, given the fact that it's just too good to share. So seriously, order your own.
Another cheesy hit is the Caprese salad with buffalo mozzarella, roma tomatoes and fried basil (rather than the usual fresh basil, $15). Other plates to share range from $10-$15 and luckily aren't on the minuscule side.
There are are also weightier options, like the rustic pappardelle di anatra ($26) — fresh pappardelle pasta with duck ragu. Just don't go expecting it to be a light dish. For desserts, there's the classic sfingi (sugar dusted Italian donuts, $12), served with a little pot of nutella, or other classics like tiramisu.
The wines are mainly Italian (naturally) and start at $9 a glass, or $40 a bottle, like the Collezione Colli Martani Rossi from Umbria, Italy. While there aren't quite a thousand bottles on the list, there's most likely something there that you're after. There are other drinks available, but really it's all about the wine here.
So pop back on in and see what you think of this Crown Street local's favourite.