If you’ve only ever admired Totti’s and its famous puffy bread through your phone screen, rejoice – you can now experience the acclaimed Sydney eatery without an interstate trip.

The Italian restaurant opened inside the Lorne Hotel on Saturday. Parent company Merivale bought the historic hotel in 2021, adding to its stable of more than 80 pubs, restaurants and bars in NSW.

Mike Eggert, who’s synonymous with the Totti’s name in Sydney, is here for the launch alongside fellow executive chef Matt Germanchis (who previously ran Captain Moonlite in Anglesea).

“Between the footprint and the location on the Great Ocean Road, in a beautiful little town … I think this building’s gonna demand attention,” Eggert tells Broadsheet.

Kelvin Ho of Akin Atelier completely redesigned the former Movida site, adding a tiled bar, diner-style leather banquettes and brass accents.

“It’s a whole new look for Merivale,” says Eggert. “It’s harking back to those ’70s kind of ski lodges and chalets.”

Those who’ve been to the original Totti’s Bondi will recognise the signature pizza oven, perfect for blistering the crusts of that showstopping bread. Eggert suggests pairing it with your choice of antipasti to start. There are 20 different options, from marinated vegetables to smoky albacore tuna to pickled mussels and wild kingfish crudo.

“Local seafood is what really defines the Totti’s Lorne antipasti selection,” he says. “As someone from Sydney, it’s a privilege to work with this fish.”

As a Lorne local and co-owner of Anglesea fish’n’chipper Fish by Moonlite, Germanchis is able to get his hands on some of the region’s best – and his prowess extends throughout the menu.

Garlicky bucatini vongole and whole crumbed King George whiting sit alongside early Totti’s favourites including lamb ragu over house-made pappardelle and cocoa-dusted slabs of tiramisu. There’s also an ever-changing array of gelato and sorbet in flavours such as liquorice, pistachio, mandarin and strawberry. Exclusive to Lorne, they’re a little nod to Germanchis’s not-so-hidden talent.

“He was like, ‘Don’t ever tell this to the press, but I’m actually a total gelato master,’” Eggert says. “And I was like, ‘Matt, that’s a big call, but if you think you can execute it.’ And he did. They’re honestly fantastic.”

While good food has always been part of the Totti’s equation, good times are what’s made it such a roaring success in Sydney, where there are now four locations. There’s an ample selection of champagne, prosecco and spumante on the list at Lorne, plus new-wave wines from top Italian and Australian labels such as Radikon, Frank Cornelissen, Quealy, Patrick Sullivan and Gentle Folk.

But it’s Totti’s bright, fresh, drinkable spritzes and cocktails that feel readymade for lively long lunches overlooking the beach. The signature Margarita with lime, watermelon, basil and geranium has been carried over; as has a fruity spritz with rosé, blood orange, rhubarb and passionfruit. Good times, here we come.

Totti’s Lorne
Ground floor, 176 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne
(02) 9114 7399

Daily 12pm–10pm

@pinbone (Mike Eggert)