There’s something old fashioned about Bacco Osteria and Espresso, and it’s not just the name. Half the restaurant looks like a classic, no-frills Italian bakery – pizza by the slice, paninis, pastries and coffee (although seeing as the beans come from Little Marionette, you can expect a lot more nuance than the average Italian brew).
“We had a baker lined up but it fell through a month ago. We found this couple from Rome. They don't speak any English but they bake all our sourdough, pastries and focaccias,” says head chef Scott Williams (formerly of Movida).
The other half looks more like an Andrew Cibej venue. The owner of Vini and Berta is the executive chef here. If it weren’t for the minimal, blackboard-free, light-timber fit-out, it’d be easy to call this Vini part two. Like the Surry Hills restaurant, the opening menu (it’s likely to change a lot) at Bacco is simple, short and reflective of Italy’s many regional cuisines and styles. The most traditional idea is the pistachio and pecorino gnocchi. Williams says during busy periods it will be a lot of work to keep up with orders, because it’s made by hand. “But we had to do it. It's Andrew's nonna's recipe.” Continuing the old-school theme, a spectacular lamb tartar is topped with ancient-Roman-style anchovy paste, and a simple lentil salad with house-made pork sausage.
Also homemade are the pastas, like the strozzapretti with goat and guanciale ragu. And spaghetti with native succulents and hand-caught sea urchin. “I fucking love that. Last year when we were in Sicily we had a big plate of sea urchin spaghetti. It was quite emotional because it was that good. I knew I had to put it on a menu.”
Clint Hillery (sommelier for the China Lane group) curated the 70-strong wine list. Most are Italian and a good portion reflect Sydney’s growing thirst for funk and fermentation in their wine. “The main thing with the wine is to challenge the market. We have a smattering of the natural gear and we're keen on showing off the well-made ones,” says Gavin Wright, who looks after the cocktails (he’s also involved with Bar Brose and ACME). There’s a seasonal twist on common Italian drinks alongside a trio of G&Ts, each made with a different local gin.
A small selection of alcoholic beverages are available in the cafe section, too (five or so options scrawled in chalk on a wall) as well as the restaurant’s baked ricotta cheesecake.
The idea is for everything to be relaxed enough that people will come multiple times in a day, once for a cappuccino and pastry, and then later for either a panini and an espresso or a plate of pasta and a wine.
Bacco Osteria e Espresso
1/2–12 Angel Place
(02) 9235 3383
Mon to Fri 7am–8.30pm
Mon to Fri 12pm–12am
This article was updated on July 21, 2017.