Shuk and Salt Meats Cheese have teamed up to open Popina Kitchen in Circular Quay. It feels like a trip around the world.

Executive chef and director of Popina Kitchen German Sanchez (former head chef of Shuk) brings us the Pit-zza, something between a pita and pizza. It’s served with za’atar (Middle Eastern spice mix) and drenched in extra-virgin olive oil. There’s also gnocchi with whole burrata, capers and confit tomatoes alongside hand-cut (not minced) beef empanadas. The ricotta ravioli with lamb backstrap, pistachio crust and mint is a must. Then there’s the pizzas.

“There’s Argentinian and Israeli flavours on top of an Italian dish, like the pizzas. There’s a lamb-kofta pizza, tahini pizza, zucchini pizza … It’s those flavours that merge into the different cuisines,” says Sadler.

“We’ve got a food glossary for the staff because there’s going to be lots of questions. The za’atar that goes with the pit-zza bread has got rosemary powder in it, so it pays homage to Italians, though za’atar is the typical dipping spice at Shuk.”

The bar manager, Hamish Dowie (of Palmer & Co. and Ananas), has created the cocktail list. Try the Mediterranean Garden (rosemary, olive-infused Beefeater gin, thyme and bitter). Or the Elderly Cuban Spritz with Havana Club Añejo Especial Rum, elderflower and sparkling.

What’s behind the name? “Popinas were places where the lower classes would break bread and drink wine together. Unpretentious. It’s fun and good energy,” says Sadler.

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And what about the mysterious rooftop? “It’s still happening, but it won’t be a bar, it’ll be an extension. We’d like it to, potentially, be a bar in the future,” he says.

Popina Kitchen
Level 2, 1 Macquarie Place, Sydney

Mon to Fri 11am–3pm, 5pm–10pm
Sat 12am–10pm
Sun 12pm–5pm