What do you do if you own a restaurant and your barman places fourth in a major international cocktail competition? You open another Italian pizzeria, but with a greater focus on drinks. “After Andrea [Gualdi] won World Class, even before, we wanted to have a bigger bar so we can have more fun,” says Stefano Catino, one of Maybe Frank’s owners.
You’ll see what Catino means instantly – the restaurant is louder than its sister Surry Hills venue and at the centre of the bustling dining room is a long bar manned by Gualdi, as well as new recruits Antonello Arzedi (ex-Vasco and Pino’s Vino e Cucina) Balasz Molnar (ex-Artesian, London). “It’s a very strong team,” says Gualdi. “With this new concept we don't really have to worry about consistency. We will just concentrate on flavours and try to get the best out of every ingredient.”
The trio has created two drink menus – the first is a permanent list of classic Italian cocktails, such as Negronis, Sbagliatos, spritzes, Shakeratos, and the second is a weekly specials menu of batched cocktails and a handful of wines and beers.
And in keeping with modern-day communication parlance, emojis are used to help describe the drinks’ nuances and flavours. “The emoticons [describe] the intensity of flavour, not how alcoholic they are,” says Catino.
Last week there was a sweet, tart and punchy pineapple, tequila, jalapeno, Fino and Montegro combo; and a dry Martini-like gin cocktail made with sage, butter and Ambrato.
Catino says the food menu will be changing as well – to what, he’s not yet sure – but for now expect handmade pastas and pizza with a slightly crispier base, less puffy edges and simple toppings. The other direction change for Catino and co-owner Vince Lombardo is the addition of a terrace-style backyard. At the moment it has two tables, a couple seats, two long vegetable gardens and varnished logs.