As we begin to explore the city again, there’s nothing more welcome than a personal recommendation (particularly for a hidden bar or restaurant you never would have discovered yourself).

With that in mind, we asked Sydney artist Jamie Preisz about the more mellow spots he gravitates to. Preisz is a steady presence around town, having just wrapped up a high-profile exhibition at Jerico Contemporary (though some of the work will stay up for a while).

Best known for winning the Archibald Packing Room Prize in 2018 for his portrait of Aussie rock icon Jimmy Barnes, Preisz has since made a departure from portraiture, mixing oil paintings and collage, as well as producing drawings and video pieces. “It makes me much happier to make a variety of things,” he says.

Here are some of his favourite spots around Sydney.

EAT: Maybe Frank, Surry Hills

This Vegas-inspired pizzeria features a wall mural by Preisz, but that’s not why he loves it. “Great bar and great food,” he says. “They’ve got that delicate balance: you can go in and have a drink, yet it’s still a restaurant. It’s hard to do that right. You can pull up a stool and have a glass of wine and some cheese.”

Of course, pizza is the main drawcard. His two favourites both come on white bases: the tartufo, with mozzarella, mixed mushrooms, truffle oil and grana cheese; and the patate, with potatoes, Italian sausage and rosemary oil. He also recommends the handmade burrata, a soft Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream “that’s tied up in this nice knot”.

Kot-J, Newtown

A “curated archive of past and future fashion”, this consignment clothing shop and showroom stands out from a crowded pack in Newtown.

“There are a lot of vintage stores in Newtown, but this is like niche Japanese brands and second-hand designer brands,” says Preisz, whose brother runs the shop. “They’ve got a great selection of strange and interesting things that you just don’t find anywhere else. Anything weird I want, I get it from them.” That includes Gucci gems that can be prohibitively pricey new, as well as carefully curated sunglasses and art pieces.

Brett Whiteley Studio, Surry Hills

The former home and studio of the late Sydney painter Brett Whiteley, this space now houses a gallery of Whiteley’s most famous work downstairs and his preserved workspace upstairs – complete with his brushes and half-finished paintings. The free-admission studio also hosts life-drawing classes every Friday, among other events.

“It’s so cool to be able to go in there and see the books on the floor that he was looking at for reference,” says Preisz, who went there for the first time with Dirty Three and Bad Seeds legend Warren Ellis, after a lunch with Ellis and Tex Perkins. (Not bad company for a bite out.) Preisz’s portrait of Ellis is currently a finalist in the Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize at Lismore Regional Gallery.

Cold swims at Murray Rose Pool, Rose Bay

Preisz loves to start the day with an invigorating swim at this year-round ocean pool (formerly Redleaf Pool) – either alone or with friends. It’s easy to access and less crowded than Bondi and the like; you can park easily and leave your stuff right on the boardwalk. He also recommends grabbing a coffee afterwards from the terrific on-site cafe.

“Even though I grew up on the northern beaches, I really don’t like sand that much,” Preisz says with a laugh. “[Here] you can walk out on the boardwalk, jump into the water, climb out on the ladder and start your day.”

Maybe Sammy, The Rocks

Editor’s note: If you are drinking, leave your car at home.

The only Australian venue included on last year’s World’s 50 Best Bars list, Maybe Frank’s cocktail-specialising sibling is overseen by Andrea Gualdi, once named the best bartender in Australia. “He’s the most friendly Italian guy, just covered in tatts with this ear-to-ear smile,” Preisz says of Gualdi, flagging the Negroni-esque The Sammy (also available by the bottle) and the globe-like, attention-grabbing The Dunes as two standout creations.

“It’s in the middle of the city and it’s always busy, but it’s never fully full, if that makes sense,” says Preisz. “You can pretty reliably get a spot there and it’s not too expensive. Before a night out, it’s nice to start out somewhere really classy.”

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