You’ve seen Si Paradiso before.
The laminex flooring? Just like what grandma had at her place. The washed aggregate concrete in the outdoor courtyard? Borrowed from the primary school pool party of your dreams. And how about the dining room’s style clash of framed art and indoor and outdoor furniture? Doesn’t that remind you of all those Roman trattorias you – and seemingly everyone on Instagram – hit while spending summer in Europe? If you wondered what the Si Paradiso brains trust meant when they announced they were turning Late Night Valentine a “nuovo Italo-Australian” venue, wonder no more.
There’s detail here, certainly, but Si Paradiso partner and creative director Cale Mason was mindful of ensuring the space still felt real post makeover.
“It’s a bit stained, it’s a bit chipped, it already feels lived-in,” says Mason who spent three weeks in Italy this year on a research trip. “Everything has a little bit of texture. It isn’t perfect, but it’s charming.”
Just as Si Paradiso’s aesthetic references both Milan and Morley, the eating and drinking is similarly cosmopolitan. The cellar is made up of lo-fi, natural-leaning wines from Italy and Western Australia. The cocktail list is big on Campari and reimagined Negronis, Americanos and other interwar classics. In a first for any bar at this address, tap beer is available with the state’s craft brewing community well represented.
There’s lots, meanwhile, to like about the elegantly topped pizza. The lightweight crust is golden, pliable, and made with dough developed by Ryan Chu of Chu Bakery; the tomato sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes (that noise you hear is the quiet cheer of purists); toppings hew close to tradition and are more about salumi, confit garlic and good cheese than deep-fried chicken and barbeque sauce.
The rest of the menu is a work-in-progress but opening dishes include pizza bread, salads and grilled steak. Dane McHutchison, an alum of Marque in Sydney and Margaret River’s Vasse Felix, is consulting on the menu and has plans to add sandwiches, pasta and high-quality fried seafood to future revisions.
As was the case during the space’s Late Night Valentine era, music remains an integral part of the Si Paradiso experience. A house jazz band is being assembled and the venue is celebrating its opening with four days of DJs and dancing spread between across the indoors and out. While the idea of heading to a single venue to eat, drink and dance might seem odd in this day and age, Mason believes the trio represents the venue perfectly.
“The biggest thing I picked up over there [In Italy] is that things don’t have to be perfect,” he says. “You walk into a restaurant and it’s been thrown together. It’s a little bit off and it doesn’t quite make sense but it still works."
446 Beaufort Street, Highgate
Wed & Thu 4pm-12am