There are few people who have shaped Sydney’s drink and food scene as much as Giorgio De Maria. At the now-closed 121 BC Enoteca, and as co-creator of natural-wine festival Rootstock, he shifted the direction of what Sydneysiders pour into their glass. His ideas around wine production and sustainable agriculture have not only been influential here, they’ve ricocheted across the country to inform and drive Australian drinks trends.
He’s now joined forces with Mattia Dicati of Vino Mito Wine Imports and chef Enrico Tomelleri, who has cooked at some of the city’s best Italian eateries – including Ragazzi, Alberto’s Lounge and 10 William Street. They will open Paski Vineria Popolare in late November, a restaurant and wine retail space on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.
Inspired by the bottegas and enotecas of Italy, De Maria says Paski Vineria Popolare is “three acts over two levels”. Moving into the space formerly occupied by cocktail bar This Must Be The Place, the ground floor will have bar seating for 30 or so people, a shop space where punters can pick up pantry items, and illuminated shelves, built by artist Dion Horstmans, stocking a 450-bottle range from small-scale wine producers.
It’ll sell wines De Maria imports via his Giorgio De Maria Fun Wines business, as well as some imported by Dicati. You’ll be able to grab something off the shelf to drink in the bar for a small corkage fee or to take home ($1 cheaper if you BYO bag).
“It’ll be mostly Italian wines but we’ll also have some producers from France and Spain, along with the ones we work with in Australia. Because we import directly from them, these are producers we’ve visited and worked with. I liked this set up because it closes the gap,” he says.
The wines will be grouped not by variety or colour, but by the people who make them. “This is so we highlight the artisan producers. So instead of people talking about sparkling wine, they’ll be talking about the people creating the wines, the producers.”
Tomelleri will be doing the food. Downstairs there’ll be a decent selection of cheeses and charcuterie to snack on while you drink vino, while upstairs expect an à la carte menu of handmade pastas, seafood and more. Called Paski Sopra (sopra translates as “above”, in Italian), the intimate restaurant will serve rare and special wines in addition to the selection available downstairs.
Turin-based artist Gianluca Cannizzo of My Poster Sucks has been commissioned to create a large-scale artwork, and the glassware was made in collaboration with local glass artist Brian Hirst.
As for the name, it refers to De Maria’s dog (itself named after the Cantina Giardino wine label). “The name choice was going on forever … we could never find agreement, and then one day I was talking to Pasi [from Newtown’s Cafe Pasi] and he said, ‘You should call it Cafi Paski.’ I was amused and I told Dicati and Tomelleri – they laughed. But we thought Paski could work.
“Popolare means ‘of the people’, so we thought it’s very community, and people associate it with good product and to an extent good value. We would like to use the space for events and collaborations, so it worked well,” he says.
Paski Vineria Popolare is slated to open on November 22 at 239 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.