There are personal touches on the walls and in the furniture at Bar Josephine, Aaron Donato’s new spot in Footscray.
His books, including worn copies of Death in Brunswick and In Cold Blood, fill the shelves. There are porcelain cups, bowls and gravy boats with dolls’ heads moulded into their tops, made by his mother. (They’re so popular, a bowl has already been stolen.)
The bar takes some influence from Prudence in North Melbourne, where Donato drank as a student. From the decor to the signage at the front, Prudence regulars will notice similarities. Even the old-fashioned name is a nod to its muse, but with a personal twist: it comes from his nonna, Giuseppa, which translates to Josephine.
A former bar manager at the Cinema Nova bar in Carlton, Donato laughs when he describes himself as a “failed writer” and says he wanted a bar where he could relax and write.
“I really like craft beer, I really like being a bartender and I wanted a business where I could sit and feel comfortable writing, getting drunk and listening to good music.”
The well-priced $8 pints of West City Brewing Footscray Ale will be a staple among the 12 taps. International classics from breweries such as Stone Brewing and Tilquin have already made an appearance. Donato plans to host events and tap takeovers with local breweries.
The wine list is short, but features quality producers at a reasonable price.
It’s open seven days a week, with a dog-friendly outdoor area and plans for food on the way. Bar Josephine might be your new local, but it’s already full of stories. And if you know one behind the missing piece of porcelain, he would love it back – no questions asked.
295 Barkly Street, Footscray VIC 3011
0424 745 977
Mon to Sun 1pm-1am