The introduction of South Australia’s small venue license back in 2013 completely transformed the face of the city and how we drink – and socialise – in Adelaide. But with the license limited to the CBD boundaries, the suburbs have been a little slow to catch up. That’s finally changing, with savvy young operators enlivening neighbourhoods with intimate venues such as Good Gilbert, Bar Lune and, soon, Willy’s Wine Shop. The latest is Bandit Pizza and Wine, opening this winter at the base of a new apartment building on Unley Road.
“I think the small bar license completely changed people’s expectations of what a venue is,” says co-owner Oliver Brown. “It started to become owner operated – people started to care about their customers a bit more, their offering was stuff they wanted to sell, not so much what they thought people wanted. It’s completely changed the dynamic of how people eat and drink, and I think it’s finally filtering out into the suburbs in the form of small restaurants and wine bars.”
Brown, who’s a co-director of the Big Easy Group (which includes Nola, The Stag and Yiasou George), is no stranger to the suburbs, having built up a dedicated following for his Prospect venues Anchovy Bandit and Bottega Bandito, plus Bowden Brewing. For him and managing partner Alex Bennett, Bandit Pizza and Wine is about taking the Bandit brand back to basics.
“We’re going back to our roots, I guess, doing a bit more of a pizza-focused venue with a sweet wine list. Super casual, kind of like the OG Anchovy [Bandit] was,” says Bennett.
“Anchovy developed so much. We had the local pizzeria, where it was just small snacks and pizzas, and then when [chef] Shane Wilson came on board from Hentley Farm he started developing the menu. Then we expanded and started doing pastas and meats, so it went from this suburban pizzeria and wine bar to a full-service restaurant,” adds Brown.
“So the idea here is we go back to snacks and arrosticini skewers and pizzas and bring the wine bar element back in, while Anchovy can continue to go the other way.”
The pair, alongside other partners Joshua Talbot, Jack Booker, Adam Philips and Wilson, weren’t necessarily looking to expand the concept. But fate stepped in. “The agent for this property literally came into Anchovy and liked it, and he was like, ‘Hey, you should get these guys as tenants,’” says Bennett.
“So many people drove over to Prospect for Anchovy Bandit already, so we had people coming from everywhere, but a lot of people reached out saying, ‘I’ve been meaning to come over but I haven’t had time – it’s the other side of town.’ So hopefully this is easier for some people to access,” says Brown.
The venue will have a similar set-up to present-day Anchovy Bandit, with bar seating on one side, and a dining room on the other. The open kitchen – fronted by head chef Antonio Pruner – will include a huge pizza oven (twice the size of that at Anchovy Bandit), a hearth and a hibachi grill for skewered meats. There’ll also be a “hot box” near the entrance for easy access to takeaway pizza.
“The whole space is set up to be as efficient as possible – in the nicest possible way,” says Brown. “Everything is pre-batched, it’s quick service. The idea is if people want to pop in and have a quick pizza, everything is fast and easy, or if you want to sit down and drink Negronis for five hours, you can.”
Anchovy Bandit bartender James Coppe is designing the pre-batched cocktail list, while Big Easy Group sommelier Shaun Lau is building the wine list, which Brown says will include rare and hard-to-find drops.
“We’ve been collecting wines since 2019 and they’ve all been stored in the cellar underneath The Stag, so we’ve been given allocations of stuff and waiting to add them to lists … so we’re taking a lot of that cellar and putting it on the backbar here,” he says.
“We’ve got a lot of chardonnays and pinots … we’ve got small producers like Gentle Folk and Ochota Barrels and [Victorian winemaker] Joshua Cooper, and then we’ve got some really cool barolos, barbarescos, nebbiolos, montepulcianos and brunelos.
“The wine list has really stepped up,” he continues. “And that’s why Shane decided to do arrosticini, because it’s not so often you buy a $300 bottle and a pizza. So we’ve got these really awesome woodfired skewers and vegetables, so you can have snacks and wine without necessarily having to eat pizza.”
For the pizza-inclined among us, you can expect the same 72-hour-proofed, Neapolitan-style base found at Anchovy Bandit, but with more traditional toppings.
The venue design, by Auckland- and Brisbane-based design agency Ctrl Space, will also echo Anchovy Bandit (which was designed by Sans Arc Studio, before an extension by Studio Gram) with a warm, retro aesthetic of hardwoods, art deco influences and booth and banquette seating. Branding is by Divide Design, who worked on Bottega Bandito and Bowden Brewing.
Bandit Pizza and Wine will open in early August at 248 Unley Road, Hyde Park.