Last year was a big one for restaurateur Maurice Terzini’s Icebergs Group. It opened the Australian outpost of Scout (the London original is consistently ranked among the best bars in the world); replaced Bondi pizza diner Da Orazio with the Mitch Orr-led Cicciabella; and closed the respected wine room at the Surry Hills’ Dolphin Hotel. During the coronavirus period there’s been plenty more change – and there’s a lot more to come.
For a start, Icebergs Group no longer exists. “The actual name of Icebergs has just been [reserved] for the fine-dining Bondi venue,” Terzini tells Broadsheet. “We always believed that we jumped the gun by calling it the Icebergs Group. After a period of time we realised it was more important not to call it the Icebergs Group, and just to find another name for it.”
And this is where it gets a little confusing.
That group, now known as The Point, is run by a collective of business people. The Point includes Surry Hills pub Hotel Harry (which Terzini isn’t involved with and has never been); Bondi Beach Public Bar (which he still holds a small stake in); and the Dolphin Hotel (Terzini and his partners took over it in 2016, but he’s no longer involved).
Fine-diner Icebergs is separate from The Point and is now managed and owned by Terzini with Damien Reed and Deke Miskin.
Terzini, who held the title of creative director at Icebergs Group, says that – apart from the venues he continues to hold an interest in – he no longer “participates” in the group. He’s also now the sole owner of Cicciabella, and will continue to operate it independent from The Point.
On Cicciabella: lauded pasta whiz Mitch Orr has departed the modern Italian diner, which opened in October last year. Nic Wong (ex-Apollo, Cho Cho San) will lead the kitchen going forward. It’s just reopened after a Covid-19 hiatus with a new winter menu, with nine main courses all coming from the woodfired oven, including whole sardines with parsley and lemon, pork chops with salt and vinegar sauce, and bistecca alla fiorentina.
“Nic, in a way, found and created his own position,” Terzini tells Broadsheet. “Mitch during Covid maybe also realised he wanted to have a break … it all worked out for the better. It also allowed us to focus on food that, although high quality, has far less rules. At the end of the day Cicciabella is a simple osteria [for] everyday eating.”
Orr tells Broadsheet he has no plans yet for future projects.
The Dolphin’s hugely respected wine room closed last year, and during coronavirus the pub relaunched with a new focus. The wine room and its surrounds were transformed into a wine and general store, with rare and unusual bottles hand-picked by the group’s respected sommelier James Hird (and sold to take away). Terzini says it wasn’t the direction he had hoped for. “It seemed destined for other things,” he says. (Hird continues to oversee the wine programs at all former Iceberg Group venues.)
Another big change occurred at the Dolphin last year: the opening and closing of Scout Sydney, an outpost of Scout London, founded by English bartender Matt Whiley. The avant-garde bar opened at the top of the Dolphin in March and closed in December, with promises that it wouldn’t be the last we’d see of Whiley and his drinks. You can still drink his cocktails at Cicciabella.
Terzini says he and Whiley are currently throwing around a number of ideas for future bars together, including a lab-bar hybrid that’s 100 per cent sustainable; a dive bar in the city (“Scout quality does dive”); and an American-style bar on the 19th floor of a new hotel.
Like many people, Terzini says he’s been reassessing during lockdown. He plans on collaborating more across a bunch of industries, including food; fashion (he also runs unisex clothing label Ten Pieces); wine and alcohol (he co-owns gin brand Goldy); graphics; and music.