Mates Lewis Jaffrey (ex-Shady Pines, The Baxter Inn) and Jared Merlino (Lobo Plantation) were spending too much on cheese. Every time they hung out, they’d find themselves sitting around eating, wine glasses in hand and hip-hop on the stereo.
They opened Big Poppa’s in 2016 – in part for better access to cheap cheese. The main menu has about a dozen dinner options. More than half contain cheese, but none of them are cheese platters – there’s a separate menu for that.
Upstairs, chefs Liam O’Driscoll and Jase Barron (both ex-Pendolino and Glebe Street Diner) preside over a mostly Italian restaurant. It has a classic look – black-and-white with a few Chianti bottles for character.
Downstairs has more of a cocktail-bar vibe, enhanced by dim lighting, leather booths and velvety carpet. The list includes a fizzy Fiore Collins which combines hibiscus and rosehip mezcal with Dubonnet, tequila and lime. Amazingly, the cocktails and Big Poppa’s multinational wine list can be consumed (with or without food) until 3am.
But eating is a good choice. Gnocchi is made with semolina, cut into big discs (an old-school Roman thing) and served with beef cheeks; vongole come with crispy pig-jowl bacon; and hand-cut pappardelle is flavoured with a lamb ragu.
Fair warning: you’d better like hip-hop. That’s all that’s ever played at Big Poppa’s, which is named after The Notorious B.I.G. track of the same name.