Standing amid towering buildings and the crush of CBD traffic, it’s easy to forget lush farmland is only two hours away, but it’s a fact Bel & Brio depends on. Much of the new Barangaroo eatery’s menu and marketplace is supported by produce from its Central Coast farm.
“Having our own farm is really interesting because we can always get something that’s unique,” says joint executive chef Andrea Assenza.
Modeled on a traditional European food hall, Bel & Brio is a place to eat, drink and shop under one roof. Customers come for breakfast and coffee by Will & Co; takeaway salad for lunch or groceries from the marketplace; or to pick up a bottle of wine from the cellar.
For those looking for a substantial meal, Assenza’s menu reflects his Italian heritage. House-made rigatoni is tossed with truffle pecorino and wild mushrooms from the farm. Sardinian-style suckling pig is spit-roasted and served with root vegetables. To finish there’s traditional Sicilian cannoli or frangipani cake.
Bel & Brio’s menu is matched by a 2000-bottle wine cellar filled by Jon Osbeiston, one of Australia’s leading authorities on French and Italian wine. “I aim to have good value at every price. A customer can spend $30 or $6000 and get an excellent bottle of wine.” No one has bought a $6000 bottle yet, but Osbeiston has faith. “It’s early days yet,” he says.
For customers who prefer the bar to the cellar, bar manager James Snelgrove carries the farm-to-plate philosophy to the bar. The Parsley Sage Champagne Spritz is a good example, a drink with parsley sugar (made from the farm’s herb garden), floated with vodka and prosecco.