Inner-City Italian Diner Secolo Has Reopened as a Pop-Up at The Exchange Hotel in Balmain

Secolo is back to revive the Fabbrica Balmain space for a little while before The Exchange Hotel gets a makeover.
Ben Hansen
February 27, 2024

Italian restaurant Secolo has joined Chez Blue, Casa Esquina and The Dry Dock in the wave of new openings coming to the Balmain/Rozelle area, moving into the former Fabbrica Balmain space at the historic Exchange Hotel. After closing down due to the pressures of the pandemic, the project of Anthony, Tanja and Robert Arienzale is back for a limited time as a pop-up while The Exchange gets ready for its next phase.

The heritage-listed Inner West pub is slated for renovations later in the year, but in the meantime, Secolo has stepped in to bring antipasti, bowls of pasta, Italian wines and weekday aperitivo hours to the digs until at least May. When Fabbrica first opened in February 2023, it was also slated as a pop-up, as Public Hospitality moves towards a full-venue transformation at The Exchange.

"We saw how popular the site was with locals and how much of a void the previous departure left in the community, so when we were given the opportunity to bring our authentic Italian dining experience to the area, we jumped at it," says Tanja Arienzale.

Not messing with the classic look of the historic pub, not much about the design has been changed from Fabbrica's residency to Secolo's. The menu skews more traditional than Fabbrica, with a classic array of vino as well as grappa available in place of Fabbrica's more boundary-pushing wine list.

The recommended way to kick off a meal at Secolo is with a Venetian Spritz, swapping out Aperol in the classic summer cocktail and replacing it with Select Aperitivo 1920. From there, fill the table with share plates like crumbed zucchini flowers, nduja, beetroot carpaccio, kingfish crudo, herb-crusted bone marrow, and a trio of house crostini topped with ricotta and anchovies, chicken pate and ciambotta.

The pasta dishes on offer include blue swimmer crab spaghetti, fettuccine carbonara, and a zucchini pesto, nduja and ricotta gnocchi. Plus, vitello alia milanese (fried veal cutlet) and fish of the day are available for hungry groups.

There are also a few set menus on offer. Groups of six or more can opt for either the $75 or $95 per person feasts, both of which run through plenty of menu highlights alongside your choice of two pastas. And, on Saturdays, there's a $45-a-head lunch available, which includes focaccia, an entre of your choice and your favourite from the pasta menu, all for under $50.

As for the aforementioned Aperitivo Hour, it's available 5.30–6.30pm Monday–Thursday and includes $12 spritzes, $10 glasses of prosecco and $8 house beers.

While Secolo is only scheduled to operate out of the space for a few months, the team is hoping it will find another location in the area to move to after this pop-up. As for The Exchange Hotel, keep an eye out as Public announces plans for its future — we'll be sure to let you know when we find out.

Secolo Balmain is located at 94 Beattie Street, Balmain. Head to the venue's website for more information.

Published on February 27, 2024 by Ben Hansen
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