With the ex-head chef of Fratelli Paradiso in the kitchen and gun bartender Grazia Di Franco behind the bar you could easily spend all day here.
Just six months after opening his first solo venture, Jared Merlino (co-owner of Big Poppa's, Kittyhawk and Lobo Plantation) is already changing this up. Bartolo (FKA Caffe Bartolo) has just reopened with a new name, a new interior and a new menu to boot.
As part of the all-day eatery's revamp, the venue now features a 13-seat bar space, which has launched alongside the approval of the bar's PSA licence — allowing punters to drink without having to order any food.
When you visit, expect a sleek fit-out with walnut floorboards and high tables, along with a cocktail menu that spans spritzes ($15), classics ($14–20) and signatures ($22). The menu changes with the season and has been created by the group's lauded head bartender, Grazia Di Franco.
At the moment, there's a Vermuttino spritz (vermouth, lemon myrtle and soda), the Rain cocktail (tequila, two types of vermouth, verjus and golden beetroot), the Merino Wool (sherry, cognac and vermouth with apple, almond milk and egg whites) and the Fireplace (Rinomato Aperitivo and Americano Bianco with plum, cacao and earl grey), which is served hot.
Over at the dining room, Merlino wanted to serve up something that Crown Street didn't already offer. For that, he called in chef Teofilo Nobrega, who spent the past 13 years working at Potts Point's Fratelli Paradiso. When creating the food menu, Nobrega's aim was to create a lineup of dishes that you could happily spend 17 hours — how long the cafe's open for each day — eating. And, indeed, you can.
For lunch and dinner, there are grilled lamb rump skewers with rosemary and garlic ($15), locally made burrata with white anchovy ($18), charred octopus with salsa verde and pickled onion ($23) and pan-fried Spanish mackerel with asparagus and celeriac puree, ($26). Pair these with one (or both of) the house-made pastas — at the moment, those include the tagliolini alla sorrentina with buffalo mozzarella ($21) and the duck ragu pappardelle ($31). And don't forget a serve of the veal and pork meatballs in tomato sugo ($15), which is made using a recipe from Merlino's nan.
On weekends, head in for the regularly changing brunch specials, with house cocktails available from 8am — including the bloody mary, mandarin and prosecco mimosa, espresso-based Coffee Break and a campari and grapefruit concoction. For eats, enjoy the likes of brekkie meatballs with poached eggs and parmesan, or brioche French toast with apple and rhubarb compote and mascarpone.
For weekday breakfast before heading into the office, the espresso bar is open from 7m till 3pm, at which you can grab Gabriel coffee and a pastry from Organic Bread Bar.
Images: Kitti Gould
Words by Samantha Teague and Marissa Ciampi