“Locals walk in saying, ‘we’ve been waiting too long for this’,” says Dominic Borel, general manager of The Emporium. It’s easy to see why people are flocking to see what the ex-Gazebo manager has done with the long-vacant lot in Parramatta. The owners of The Coffee Emporium chain, John and Sam Ayoub, met Borel on one of their many visits to the Potts Point bar. Eventually they asked him to manage their new project. Now the familiar name is attracting attention with its new look.
The design is inspired by Borel’s own house in Italy’s Lake Como. The two-storey brick building, off the main drag of Parramatta’s Church Street, has a family-home feel, with a high roof, arched walkways and mounds of jasmine in each room. Wooden floors meet the brick courtyard, which is framed by vine-covered walls and handmade tabletops from Venice. The indoor roastery (which tipped the original budget way over) sits in the centre of the venue, on display for those who are interested in the mechanics behind their brew. Around the side of the building, stool seating facing the street mimics the people watching of Italy.
Open from breakfast to late drinks, the menu has been fine-tuned by some of the best. Rob Cannon of Steel Bar & Grill has created a Mediterranean-inspired modern-Australian menu. “We’re experimenting with the area, but there’s an emphasis on native products to give a twist to traditional favourites,” says Cannon. Cured meats from Italy, France and England complement the hefty cheese-board options. Pambula rock oysters; slow-cooked beef short rib with sticky maple paprika glaze; and pan-fried gnocchi with snow peas and ricotta are among the favourites. Try the chocolate and hazelnut delice stack – the bottom layer is made of crispy crepes.
With garage, Motown, rap and reggae Sundays in the mix, the blend of music is testament to the venue’s ethos of bringing different people together. Keep a look out for the rooftop champagne and oyster bar to open later in the year.
51 Phillip Street, Parramatta
(02) 9687 1955