There’s nothing fancy about Monty’s, which occupies the former site of Deco Wine Bar. There’s a recycled church pew up the back, a couple of deep booths down the sides and a set of turntables beside the bar. Owners Monty Mullooly-Hill, Oscar Herman, Paul Milne and Ravi Thompson wouldn’t have it any other way.

Between them they’ve poured drinks at Prudence, The Worker’s Club, Joe’s Shoe Store, City Wine Shop and in Milne’s case, co-owned the old Mercy Seat Cafe. “I feel like Monty’s had been developing for the past six years while we’ve all been working in bars,” Mullooly-Hill says. “We’ve noticed things we liked, or things that haven’t worked.”

Their main takeaway is that simplicity is best. “We wanted a place where you could bring your dad and play darts, or stumble into at midnight and confess your problems to the barkeep,” he says.

The music (funk, soul, disco) rarely gets above talking volume. There are only two beer taps, but they pour the kind of brews you always feel like. Right now, that’s Southern Bay lager and Mountain Goat amber ale.

There are more options in the fridge, including Chimay, Coldstream Porter and Coopers Sparkling. Herman oversees the 11-drop wine list, which starts cheekily with Bollinger Champagne ($120) before settling into reasonably priced bottles of chardonnay, riesling, shiraz, malbec and pinot noir.

Pizzas come from Red Olive next door. “They’re made by old Italian men who look like Tony Soprano and only speak the mother tongue in the kitchen,” Mullooly-Hill says. There’s margherita, vegetarian, capricciosa, mushroom or sausage. Monty’s is also working on a menu with the nearby Moroccan Soup Bar.

In summer – or now, even – the generous backyard is a serious drawcard, whether you’re huddled around the fireplace or hidden in its border of lush ferns and native plants. “It’s like the bar’s crown jewel,” Mullooly-Hill says.

209 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

Tue to Sun 5pm‒1am