Paski Vineria Popolare
Paski Vineria Popolare is a restaurant and bottle shop by celebrated Sydney wine figure Giorgio De Maria (who was behind the now-closed 121 BC Enoteca and co-creator of natural wine festival Rootstock), Mattia Dicati of Vino Mito Wine Imports and chef Enrico Tomelleri, formerly of Ragazzi, Alberto’s Lounge and 10 William Street.
The two-storey venue on Oxford Street comprises a bar and bottle shop on ground level, inspired by the enotecas and bottecas of Italy. On the menu are a dozen meats and about the same number of cheeses from Australia, Italy and France. Bite-sized dishes include oysters, olives and pancetta-wrapped mussels, skewered and grilled.
Roughly 30 bar stools are surrounded by illuminated shelves, stocked with around 450 wines by small-scale producers. Bottles are grouped not by variety or colour but by the people who make them. So instead of talking about style, punters are encouraged to discuss the producers and methods behind the labels. Expect plenty of options by the glass, plus you can grab something from the shelf to drink for a small corkage fee or to take away (it’s $1 cheaper if you BYO bag).
Upstairs at the restaurant, Paski Sopra (sopra translates to “above” in Italian), there’s an à la carte menu of handmade pastas, seafood and more. It’s tiny, but a thoughtful design has helped create intimate spaces, with windows overlooking Oxford Street. Here you’ll find rare and special wines, in addition to what’s available downstairs. On Wednesday nights the space is used to host tastings.
As for the name, it refers to De Maria’s Border Collie (named after the Cantina Giardino wine label), who features in the massive artwork upstairs created by Turin-based artist Gianluca Cannizzo. It’s based on Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, but this version depicts a wine-fuelled celebration with vino-filled glasses being enthusiastically swilled, and Paski sitting in front of the table, on a floor strewn with broken bottles.