Regional Wine Bar Vecina Has Caught Our Eye

Bars, Drink, Travel / 15 February 2024

Vecina, Newcastle’s highly anticipated wine bar is now open with a humongous wine list by the glass and acclaimed chef Jake Deluca on the tools.

There’s something about a wine bar that will always make our hearts gush. The way the dining experience feels so casual, in the best way. The way staff lean over for conversations like you’re close friends or family. The way you lose track of time over too many vinos. Some of our favourites in Sydney include Bar Copains, Famelia, and Lil Sis. But we’ve just bumped one to the top of our list, all the way in sunny Newcastle.

If you’re making the trip north, we recommend checking out Vecina, tucked away on Albert Street in Wickham. The bar neighbours its sister venue, Flotilla, which is an exceptional regional restaurant that has won many accolades under the guidance of Head Chef Jake Deluca. He’s young, passionate, and together with front-of-house legend Eduardo Molina, they run a tight ship. The restaurant is not defined by cuisine, but by the chef’s relationship with farmers and growers to put up a hyper-seasonal menu every six weeks. It’s always fresh, it’s always interesting, and it’s always delicious which earned them a Chef’s Hat in the 2023 Good Food Guide awards. Jake even took first place in the Hunter Culinary Food Flight of 2023, one of the most prestigious regional dining feats.

Eduardo has stepped in to co-own Vecina and Jake leads the kitchen which means delicious things. The place is home to Newcastle’s largest by-the-glass wine list and an ever-rotating list of bar snacks. We suggest starting with a selection of premium grade, freshly cut deli meats, from mortadella to saucisson. Then move through some exceptionally curated plates including burrata with stewed tomatoes, chicken liver parfait with madeira jelly, tempura zucchini flowers with honey and parmesan, appellation oysters, and an excellent beef tartare with gnocco fritto, egg jam and horse radish.

Again, the menu changes every four to six weeks so Jake can showcase some of the best local produce. We believe chefs have the opportunity to educate diners on seasonal dining and sustainable cooking, and Jake is leading the charge at both venues.

In terms of the wine list, you’ll see everything from their favourite Hunter Valley picks, funky minimal intervention choices, and Italian varietals. We do suggest sharing your palate preferences with the bar staff and letting them sort you out. There’s also a great list of cocktails to get stuck into.

Vecina is Spanish for neighbour or place adjoining, and throughout your dining experience, you will be met with warm hospitality to match. The place is buzzing with locals who love Flotilla and have been anticipating the opening. The space has been fitted out by architect and designer Jason Elsley of Derive Architecture, who also designed Flotilla in 2019. He’s stuck to the same minimal design and style, allowing the service and dining offering to take centre stage.

We’ll be back to see Jake and Eduardo soon, the dynamic duo. Be sure to book early when you plan to visit Flotilla and Vecina as seats are hot property.