Housed in the Nonda Katsalidis-designed Little Hero building, Neapoli is the realisation of a long-term dream for Con Christopoulos. Named in honour of his Greek father’s hometown, it’s part wine bar, part cafe, part secret boys club and has been an entirely indulgent personal mission for the man whose Midas touch has driven the success of a raft of respected – and quintessentially Melbourne – businesses, including The Melbourne Supper Club, Journal and Gill’s Diner.
With Neapoli, Christopoulos and business partner Josh Brisbane wanted to create the kind of space where they themselves could “hide away from the city and enjoy a few drinks with mates”. The nicely hidden, American oak-lined mezzanine floor certainly does evoke an agreeably masculine, Brat Pack mood.
The pair engaged the talents of long-term collaborator Rabindra Naidoo, the talented local designer whose trademark ageless, perfectly worn aesthetic has become synonymous with the duo’s stable of establishments. Here though, the gestures are much grander, with a sweeping glass frontage, curved solid oak bar and prominent art deco-inspired balustrade. Indeed, it’s evident that budget was no obstacle for the project Christopoulos dubs his “little gem”.
The bar itself has a distinctly familiar, vintage feel to it and takes direct design inspiration from the classic example at Pellegrini’s, the source of many fond childhood memories for Christopoulos. “Theirs is a classic, timeless design and the stools are comfortable – that’s important. The bar here certainly pays homage to Pellegrini’s,” he says.
The menu too, is a reflection not only of Christopoulos’ heritage but also his predilection for quality and mixing things up. “It’s my favourite kind of food – one day I’m on a health kick, the next day I want my Mum’s rabbit stew,” he offers. Equal parts decadence, comfort food and ethically healthy fare, it’s real ‘mood food’ at Neapoli. Think superfood salads with side of La Latteria mozzarella and a cold-pressed organic juice, traditional Greek stifado or a simple spaghetti aglio olio with a glass of Old World red.
With a keen eye on seasonal produce, chef Sam Kenway’s sizable menu offers the kind of flexibility that perfectly suits the current trend for non-committal, all-hours dining. The format is loose enough to welcome early breakfasts, a sneaky afternoon sherry or a late night soufflé or cheese course. The space will also house an extensive wine shop, where for an extra $20 you can enjoy your bottle in house, with quality stemware and some suitably wine-savvy service – a concept we think Melbourne wine lovers will embrace with justifiable delight.
And the empire building isn’t stopping here. Christopoulos is already working on the next addition to his growing stable: a high-end deli, gelateria and cheese room is set to open next to the Spring Street HQ later in the year.
30 Russell Place, Melbourne
(03) 9650 5020
Mon to Fri 7:30am–late
Sat & Sun 8am–late