359 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney 2010
Kitchen and Cocktail Bar 12pm – 12am Mon – Fri  | 8am – 12am Sat |8am – 10pm  Sun
0455 027 378

Surry Hills’ slice of Sicilian sophistication.

All showcased through sensational spaghetti, spritz, plus a whole lot more.

If you’re after an authentic Italian meal with a layer of sophistication minus the pretentious white table cloth, you’ll find it at Bartolo.

The trendy and intimate venue has taken over its predecessor, Bills, and upped the ante with black and white photograph clad walls, marble tables, panelled walls and dim-lit lighting. They are the perfect accompaniments to a delicious and indulgent evening.

Bartolo Interior. Image supplied.

Bartolo Interior. Image supplied.

Bartolo has a world-class charm, a sense of nostalgia and elegance, mixed with the feeling of home and familiarity. And it’s the simple and refined details that make it so. The opulent emerald green bar, framed with hanging glassware, bottles and soft grey chesterfield bar stools juxtapose against the wooden ‘specials boards’ that reminds us of an old-school delicatessen, with plastic interchangeable letters formed in a ‘butcher’s font’. It’s fancy, but fun. It’s serious, but cheeky. It’s for refined palettes and it’s for the new foodies on the scene. It’s the perfect spot and we can’t pigeonhole it into one category. It’s just all-round great.

And this translates the entire way through the perfectly balanced menu.

The specials board is too quaint to ignore, so you can’t go past ordering the cured meats. We were graced with generous folds of perfectly pink Mortadella and Salumi, accompanied by crisp breadsticks and roasted onion. And if there’s a time for bread, it’s here at Bartolo. Their housemade focaccia ($5) is an absolute must. Mattress high and super soft, the rectangular cuts of bread lovingly absorb the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic. Delicious.

Bartolo's Housemade Focaccia- The best bread you'll possibly ever eat. Image supplied.

Bartolo’s Housemade Focaccia- The best bread you’ll possibly ever eat. Image supplied.

Once you’ve inhaled your bread and meats, you know it’s time to get into the saucy stuff. And that’s exactly what we did. Nan’s Meatballs ($15), made of veal and pork are served in a generous pool of rich Italian sugo (sauce). When you see an Italian venue list ‘sugo’, you know you’re getting the good stuff. Three giant, soft and moist balls sat pretty in our plate, and later in our stomachs. A true nod to decades of Nonna’s cooking away at a classic staple.

But, the real standout, of course, was the pasta. The Spaghettoni alla norma ($22) with eggplant, tomato, basil and cacioricotta screamed authentic. Soft, sugo-laden pasta adorned our table, sprinkled with fresh parmesan, and generous chunks of cacioricotta cheese. Each bite reignited a memory of similar dishes eaten whilst we were in Lago di Como. Honestly, one of the best pasta dishes in Sydney.

If you’re after something a little lighter, we recommend the Kingfish Caponata ($29), drizzled in a pinenut dressing and basil. The bite of the crispy seared skin, against the soft melt-in-your-mouth flesh, paired with the creaminess of the eggplant, crunch of pinenut, burst of basil and kick of salt. Simply put, it was a delight. We opted to match the Kingfish with the green beans ($12)served with almond pesto, fried shallots and lemon dressing. They were a lovely and light side, however, we did have severe table envy when we saw our neighbours roasted garlic & rosemary potatoes ($9). So we’d choose them next time.

Now, what do you pair these masterpieces with? Cocktails and spritz of course. Bartolo has recently launched its new spring cocktail menu, which looks just as good as it tastes. The leather-bound menu is adorned with beautiful watercolour renditions of each of the cocktails. We narrowed down our top two picks (which was quite difficult): the Flowers ($20) cocktail, made with Manzanilla sherry, Mancino Vermouth Bianco, Sakura, pink lady apple and PS40 bush tonic was light, sweet and refreshing. The second, Falling in Love ($20), a beautiful and sweet cocktail concocted of 42 Below vodka, butter, Mancino Vermouth Bianco, Dubonnet, strawberries, strawberry gum and Verjus. It looks like the prettier sister to an Old Fashioned and is certainly worth a try.

Unfortunately for us, we had no room for dessert, which in our eyes, was a travesty. We blame the addictively sensational focaccia! However, we’ve been told that upon our next visit, we must try the Tiramisu – and that we will.

Feature image supplied.