Julius Pizzeria and its older brother Beccofino are widely regarded as two of Brisbane’s best Italian restaurants. Last Thursday, the group of owners opened their third venue, Bar Brutus, inside Aria Property Group’s brand new Town Square development in Fish Lane. Brutus is an Italian spritz and wine bar with just eight seats. On Wednesday, a clutch of outdoor seats will be added.

According to Aleks Dzajkovski, co-owner of Julius and Bar Brutus, Aria approached the team to open something in their new Fish Lane development, joining pan-Asian restaurant Southside and all-day cafe Kiki. Dzajkovski says while the venue can be used as a holding bar for people waiting to be seated at Julius, it should stand-alone as a destination in its own right.

Housed on the bottom floor of a two-storey Richards & Spence (The Calile, Ada Lane, 19 James Street) designed brick building, large open glass windows allow bar-goers to watch over the lane. Inside, the intimate, slick fit-out is the work of Oliver Burscough from Woodsters. There’s a long white marble-top bar lit with sphere lights, lots of black paneling and dark-brown bar stools.

Long-term Julius barman Stefan Angelovski has joined as a co-owner; you’ll find him behind the bar serving a small, curated selection of aperitivi, spuntini and digestivi.

“Aperitivo are before-dinner drinks to clean your palate and spuntini are small bites to have before you go out for dinner,” Angelovski explains. “It’s a big culture in Italy to go out for a glass of wine, a spritz or a cocktail before dinner and have a little snack like olives, nuts or salami.”

“Digestives are herbal drinks that settle your stomach after you eat food,” he continues. “They have over 50 herbs and spices in them. We’re incorporating Amaros and Italian bitters into the [cocktails and spritzes], so it’s a lot different to anything else in Brisbane.”

The menu includes five different spritzes such as The Mayor (Amaro Montenegro, Cynar, grapefruit bitters, Prosecco and soda) and Verdone (Hendrick’s gin, mint syrup, cucumber, Prosecco and green tea soda). There are five classic cocktails – such as a Negroni, Americano and Bellini – and five signature cocktails including Bergamonte (Amaro Montenegro, Italicus, gin and lemon) and Bar Brutus’ take on a Negroni using sloe gin. Spuntini includes toasted salted pepitas and almonds, crostini with Cantabrian anchovies and tomato salsa, and house-baked focaccia with mortadella and buffalo mozzarella.

The approachable wine list is predominately Italian and includes five whites, two roses and five reds. In the future, Dzajkovski says they might start to add some more premium wines, such as Barolos, to the list. In a couple weeks, specials will be written up on a board besides the bar. Expect a cocktail of the week, a weekly wine special and food specials such as oysters, crudo or gazpacho.

Bar Brutus
Town Square, 2/49 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane (enter from Fish Lane)
Hours:
Wed to Sun 4pm–late

barbrutus.com.au