The first thing you see when you walk into Bastardo is an enormous old pasta extruder. Slowly your eyes take in a mint-green terrazzo table surrounded by dark brown bentwood chairs, walls dotted with colourful canvases and plates painted by Mikey Freedom, a kitsch bright orange lino floor and a bar framed by a fence hung with bunches of dried chillies.
Subtler touches come into focus as you pay closer attention: a shrine dedicated to Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona; red leather benches; cans of Italian tomatoes and fat bags of citrus fruits; and a beautiful wooden foosball table from the ’30s, carted back from Argentina 11 years ago.
Bastardo’s comforting menu pulls from Joseph Valore and Elvis Abrahanowicz’s respective Sicilian and Argentinian backgrounds (Ben Milgate is also a co-owner). On the antipasti side of things there’s an 18-month-old Parmigiano Reggiano, which arrives at your table in chunks cut from a 40-kilogram wheel; fried pizzas filled with mozzarella, and a selection of classic charcuterie. Starters include eggplant parmigiana; octopus served with radicchio and parsley; and dish of a grilled tongue.
Then comes the pasta. There’s spaghetti with ‘nduja and clams; a tagliatelle with duck and silverbeet; and culurgiones (stuffed pasta) filled with potato and ricotta. Grilled swordfish and a pork sausage (made next door at Bodega) also feature, along with a selection of veg-heavy salads to break up all that dough. Finish with house-made gelato (made using the brand-new gelato maker at the group’s soon-to-open Humble bakery), or zabaglione with golden kiwifruit.
Bastardo’s knock-out drinks list is the cherry on top. Most of the 150-plus wines (13 by the glass) are from Italy, including from small producers. There are Italian beers and classic cocktails (think Negronis and Americanos), as well as grappa, amaro and other liqueurs – including a limoncello made in-house.