On 1950s High Street, Thornbury everyone was playing bocce. Cut to 2014 and new neighbourhood drinking spot Pallino Bar & Bocce has the ball rolling again.

Owner and Thornbury local Louise Zelencich says she opened because she needed somewhere decent to get a drink. “When I moved here three years ago I noticed there were just no bars that I wanted to go to,” she admits.

Once she found a space, her landlord Vic Cesario who owns the Thornbury Expresso Coffee Bar next door, described the bocce tournaments that used to take place in the building. Then Zelenich knew she had her angle. “We fell in love with the idea of bringing it back to what it was,” she says.

Architect Tarryn Joyce used the bocce pitch as inspiration for Pallino’s layout. “We took that on as a guiding principle,” explains Joyce. “We ended up going for this long, straight, run down the space, with spectators on one side of the bar and a big long space down the other.”

The team also used warm timber, brass, white marble and a light fixture put together by local steel worker Peter Drofenik, to echo the original terrazzo floor which was installed in 1956 when the venue was a restaurant.

Along with Italian-made cheese, buffalo mozzarella and charcuterie plates, Pallino is serving panini and pizzas delivered fresh from The Moor’s Head. Wine wise, it has a short Australian list with sangiovese, pinot grigio, sav blanc, muscato, and rosé, along with seven crafty beers on tap, including Mountain Goat’s Cross-Breed Red India Ale.

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Beer and wine, however, isn’t Pallino’s priority: “The main is cocktails,” says Zelenich. “They’re all old-school, like Manhattans, Aperol Spritzes, Negronis, and we’re making a lot of espresso martinis.”

While the bar is open until late, Zelenich warns patrons not to expect late-night bocce: “It’s more a Saturday and Sunday afternoon activity.”

Pallino Bar & Bocce
790 High Street, Thornbury

Wed to Thurs 4pm–11pm
Fri 2pm–1am
Saturday 2pm–1am
Sun 2pm–11pm