At Bar Lucio, the marble bar is piled high with Italian treats like sfogliatelle, code d’aragosta, and Nutella-filled mini bomboloni. The fridge is loaded with panini and focaccia and tramezzini (sandwiches). The blue and white tiles are offset by dark herringbone floors and rattan bistro chairs. No, this is not a hole-in-the-wall bar in the back streets of Naples – it’s a corner block on Lenthall Street, in the very un-Italian suburb of Kensington.
“Kensington is a wonderful suburb,” says owner and master pizzaiolo Lucio De Falco. “I can’t wait to start serving my customers Aperol Spritz out here on the terrace.”
De Falco is well known for making some of Sydney’s best pizza. His award-winning Darlinghurst eatery, Lucio’s Pizzeria, is an institution, with a second venue in nearby Zetland. It’s at the Zetland property that he personally bakes the bread and focaccia he sells at Bar Lucio.
The cafe and bar’s menu is large considering the venue’s small size. There’s parigina, a popular Neapolitan-style pizza topped with ham, tomato and cheese, and covered in puff pastry. On the day Broadsheet visited, there were two focaccia choices: one with deli-meat-of-the-moment mortadella, pistachio and rocket, and another with caponata, ricotta and rocket. A woodfired panino – pizza dough cut and stuffed with rocket, tomato, mozzarella and prosciutto – is proving to be among the most popular of De Falco’s dishes. “People love it,” he says.
Then there’s the tramezzino – a sandwich designed to eat when you’re not really hungry – made on soft white bread with the crusts cut off, usually filled with prosciutto or tuna.
“In north Italy, it’s a very popular snack to have when you have a drink,” De Falco says. “You eat it when you’re not hungry but feel like eating.” Now that’s a sandwich we can get behind.
But it’s the caffe del nonno, or “grandpa’s coffee”, that’s really causing a stir. Often served as a dessert, the creamy, cold drink was dreamt up by caffeine-loving Neapolitans so they could continue drinking coffee during the hot summer months.
The pastries are baked in-house daily, and there are two that are almost mandatory. Code d’aragosta – which translates as lobster tail – is a light, shell-shaped puff pastry filled with Chantilly cream and cherry; and the sfogliatella Napoletana is puff pastry filled with ricotta and orange. “In Naples, every Sunday after lunch the family will go to the pastry shop and buy a big selection of pastries,” De Falco says. “But there are two that you always have on the table after lunch. You can have other things ... but these two? You must always have them.”