A standard evening at 121 BC unfurls around a single communal table that stretches the length of the corridor. Next door, 250 bottles of wine are visible in the adjoining cantina, waiting to be taken home.

In 2011, two men brought the wild concept to life: an inventory of every wine region in Italy. Giorgio de Maria would oversee the wine library, celebrating minimal intervention and sustainable growing practices. Andrew Cibej (Ester, Berta, Vini) would serve small plates to make those drops sing.

De Maria has since moved on to set up wine-importing company Giorgio’s Fun Wines, but the commitment to Italy lives on.

If you want to make things simple, head next door and choose a single bottle for the evening, at $15 corkage. But with 20 wines available by the glass (that’s one from every single region in Italy), why would you want to?

By pouring 20-millilitres below the standard serving with a lower price to match, the gang at 121 BC encourages you to try as many as possible. Seasoned drinkers may only take one sitting to travel from Friuli through to Piedmont.

Chef Philip Stenvall’s menu is best eaten as a twosome, making this a popular date-night haunt. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty with the sticky balsamic-glazed pork ribs. Next up, try the melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu beef carpaccio sprinkled with sesame, grana padano (a hard Italian cheese), chicory and rhubarb; before moving on to burnt butter “gnudi” (ricotta dumplings with zucchini, peas, and cannellini beans).

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Updated: July 20th, 2017

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