A little after a year since hospitality giant Merivale opened Totti’s, its delicious and delightful modern Italian eatery out the back of an old-school pub in Bondi, a second iteration has arrived on George Street in the CBD.
Called Bar Totti’s and part of the Ivy complex, it brings together the best bits of the restaurant – retro Italian-inspired dishes, seasonal classic drinks, outstanding antipasti – but condenses it into bar form. Well, sort of.
The space has been split into two, with a horsehoe-shaped, dimly-lit bar taking centre stage of the back area, while the front dining room is soaked in natural light thanks to huge windows that look onto George Street. Like the original, the dining room is stripped-back, with white-washed walls and lots of timber.
It’s open until 2am most nights, with DJs playing live sets in the bar Wednesday to Sunday as diners smash wine and graze on food created by OG Totti’s head chef Mike Eggert (Mr Liquor’s Dirty Italian Disco, Pinbone).
Eggert tells Broadsheet the fluffy-yet-dense bread he’s been plying at the original Totti’s is the star ingredient at the moment. Pastas will eventually be introduced, but it's all about the antipasti. “[It’s] Sydney’s favourite choose-your-own-adventure wrapped inside the puffy woodfired bread,” he says of the many options of small entree dishes you can choose from.
The original Totti's antipasti menu has been expanded upon: expect more than 20 options, including scallop crudo, ’nduja and housemade burrata with optional caviar. Snacks will be pumped out of four small hibachi grills, dishes such as whole, grilled zucchini; grilled haloumi with nectarine; and grilled duck hearts with roast grapes and radicchio.
Beyond antipasti, Eggert and the team want Bar Totti’s to have its own distinct identity. Part of that includes daily – “or even hourly” – specials. The stand-out, according to Eggert, is the mushroom timballo, which will eventually be on the menu. Made from hand-rolled egg pasta, parmesan, butter pastry and porcini cream, it’s basically lasagne in a pie.
“It’s going by a few names at the moment,” Eggert says. “Carbzilla, pasta pie, flaky lasagne thing – [that's] my personal favourite.”
The kitchen plans to bake a few pies before each service and serve them by the slice until sold out. During white truffle season there’ll be an option to add the pungent fungus.
Coming off the grill, there’s also chilli squid, smoked pork jowl, Yamba prawns, WA scampi and 800-gram rib eyes. Totti's popular desserts, including its tiramisu and Neapolitan ice-cream sandwiches are being brought across as well.
“We’ve challenged ourselves to basically be in the shit 24/7 and see what we can accomplish,” Eggert says of the busy couple weeks the venue is likely to encounter after opening. “From my years of pop-ups with Pinbone, it’s my element, really – but in a ridiculously beautiful space.”
Bar Totti’s joins many other nearby Merivale venues in the Ivy complex, including Bar Topa, Felix and Palmer & Co. Its opening is part of Merivale’s masterplan to inject fun back into Sydney’s CBD and take advantage of the new look and feel of George Street following the arrival of the light rail. That push has included the recent launch of Little Felix, plus two other upcoming venues: the Lebanese-style Jimmy’s Falafel and a yet-to-be-named Mexican diner.
4/330 George Street, Sydney
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on January 14, 2020. Menu items may have changed since publication.