Not content with owning one of Sydney's original (and still fun) small bars, not to mention a city tavern that regularly features on World's Best Bars lists, Anton Forte and Jason Scott (the folks behind Shady Pines Saloon and Baxter Inn) have gone and expanded their mini bar empire. And they've done it by commandeering a space on Hunter Street in the city – in an area with little to commend it after nightfall – where they've built a retro pizza parlour with adjoining dive bar.
You'll be first greeted with what looks like a cheesy Italian restaurant. There are pretty pictures of the Amalfi Coast, lots of fake ivy, and enough hanging garlic to ward off any lurking vampires. You'll then reach the checkerboard floor of the pizza parlour, with its wooden booths and red and white tablecloths. The smell of dough wafts throughout – and you haven't even reached the best bit yet.
Push through the double doors at the side and you'll enter the large, dimly lit saloon. There's a great big bar along one side, plush leather booths along another wall, a stage at the back, and a row of pinnies in another nook. Tables and chairs sit on thick red carpet in between and the walls are plastered with an astonishing collection of concert posters.
At the bar, the staff all look like roadies (albeit attractive ones), and when you ask them what to drink you'll soon realise that Frankie's Pizza is less about pizza and more about craft beer. The choices range from the local (Young Henry's, Rocks Brewing Co., Lord Nelson) to the just plain wacky (Moylans Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale, Birra Del Borgo IPA, Mate Veza Black Lager). If it's not your shout, suggest the three-litre bottle of the Belgian ale Duvel Jerobaum, priced at $160. The wine list features plenty of Italian vino – try a Chianti if you're dreaming of trading in Sydney for Florence – and the cocktail list begins and ends with frozen margaritas.
When you're tipsy, grab some pizza by the pie or by the slice. There's sausage, ham, salami, vegetarian, meatball, spinach, Napoletana and Hawaiian varieties. Italians would probably be unimpressed, but you'll be just fine.
Frankie's Pizza spells fun. The front pizza parlour is cute, but it's not worth a trip out of your way. The back bar represents one of the most exciting drinking joints since a couple of guys turned an old shopfront in Darlo into a saloon called Shady Pines. Its late opening hours make it more attractive still, and if you're a craft beer nerd, you'll be positively giddy with delight. There really is only one course of action: go early and stay late.