Bartolo, Surry Hills

Bars, Drink, Restaurants, Sydney / 19 June 2019

You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Nona’s kitchen at Bartolo, the new bar and restaurant in Surry Hills

Bartolo is located in the space where Bill’s stood for 23 years on Crown Street in Surry Hills. Bill’s hasn’t moved far, literally right next door but it worked out well for the two tenants. Bill’s needed somewhere bigger to expand and Jared Merlino was hunting for a site to open his next venue. No novice to the hospitality scene Merlino is responsible for some of Sydney’s best bars including Kittyhawk, Lobo Plantation and Big Poppa’s.

Bartolo originally opened with a focus on food, open from early morning until late at night you could come for breakfast, stay for a long lunch and enjoy dinner late into the night. They’ve just had their license updated which means you can now go to Bartolo just for the drinks. But whilst the cocktails are sensational you wouldn’t want to deprive yourself of the homely Italian cuisine on offer.

The venue is inspired by Jared’s great-grandfather Bartolo who immigrated from Sicily and his Grandmother Mary whose cooking inspired the menu. Ordering some charcuterie or a serving of  Nan’s veal and pork meatballs is a good place to start. Two giant meatballs are covered in a rich tomato sauce, perfect for dipping your freshly baked focaccia. The charred octopus with salsa verde and pickled onion is cooked perfectly and will melt in your mouth.

They have two pastas on the menu plus a special all of which change regularly and are served as smaller portions so you can try more dishes. Mains include pan-roasted free range spatchcock, fried Spanish mackerel and a 350g crumbed veal cutlet. Add some sides and settle in for a full meal with a bottle of wine or simply share some of the lighter dishes and make your way through the cocktail list.

The seasonal cocktails are created by Grazia di Franco and are low ABV so you have the opportunity to sample several cocktails over dinner without getting too tipsy. Pictures of the cocktails are beautifully illustrated on the menu with a small description next to each one. Grazia takes her inspiration from the changing seasons. We’re told the It’s So Foggy cocktail is reminiscent of hiking up a mountain in the the fog, the misty air and the native forest scents. Yes, that may be getting a bit deep for a cocktail but it’s exciting to see so much thought put into drinks, something usually reserved for the kitchen. The Pancakes and Netflix is another favourite made with rum, sloe gin, hazelnut, orange, coconut water and pastry, strained to deliver a beautifully smooth drink.

Bartolo is the perfect date spot- it’s intimate, cosy and sure to impress. Come for a drink and if it’s going well stay for the food.