A restaurant dedicated entirely to bistecca alla fiorentina will open in June next door to the now-closed Bouche on Bridge in the CBD.
The duo behind Grandma’s Bar, Wild Rover and Wilhelmina’s, James Bradey and Warren Burns, have gone specific on the menu at their new restaurant on Bridge Street – devoting it to the Tuscan-style steak florentine, a T-bone traditionally cooked over coals and served rare.
Called Bistecca, the duo has decided to do what is often found in Japan or Italy, and open a restaurant that concentrates on just one thing. In Italy, for example, a restaurant that mixes pizza with pasta is often frowned upon; in the same way you wouldn’t see tempura served alongside, say, yakitori.
The idea came to the pair after taking a road trip through Italy. The childhood friends and business partners returned with a burning desire to share what they had learned. “Warren spent the second half of his life growing up on a cattle farm so he’s attached to the animal, so to speak. We love that idea of sharing a meal around a big centrepiece of meat,” says Bradey.
It’s a bold move given Australian diners seem to love choice. Other steakhouses such as Rockpool Bar and Grill and The Cut offer a vast amount of seafood and rotisserie sections for example. Bistecca’s steak will have nothing to hide behind – except perhaps 20 sides.
“We’re really specialising in one cut – that enables us to ensure it is the best possible steak for your money,” says Bradey. “The beauty of the T-bone is you’re getting two different cuts of meat on the one bone … the sirloin and fillet will cook at different temperatures,” he says, adding that the staff will take care of the size depending on how hungry you are.
Weighed and sliced tableside, it's then cooked by head chef Brit Pip Pratt (an ex-chef at Bentley Restaurant and Bar) in an open hearth plied with charcoal, hardwood, olive branches and twine.
Sides will include braised cannellini beans, potatoes doused in garlic and rosemary, cavolo nero, and wilted greens, with a daily specials such as house-made cannelloni.
Asked what makes a perfect steak Bradey says: “You start with the animal, making sure you’ve got a good breed of cattle that carries fat and flavour. We have settled on a Black Angus, which is fairly classic.”
The restaurant is designed by Tom Mark Henry (Dead Ringer), and the entrance will be hidden around the back on Dalley Street. The basement space will have an intimate cocktail bar with lots of texture, dark timber and marble.
“It’s somewhat stereotypical of your Italian wine bars: very comfortable; very welcoming. And then discreetly behind that is the dining room,” says Bradey.
The wine list is being drawn up around Italian varietals (with the exception of Australian nebbiolo) and house wine will be poured in carafes. Cocktails will be kept classic, from Bellinis to Negronis. There’s future plans for the wine bar to include a retail store and a reserve room showcasing all the great barolos and super Tuscans – which sounds like great news for CBD workers looking to pick up a bottle on the way home.
Bistecca is slated to open at the end of June.