In 2020, Bartolo switched from being an all-day Italian diner and cafe to focusing exclusively on night-time trade. Now it's a wine bar – the coffee machine is gone, replaced by beer taps and alcoholic slushie machine.
Bartolo Wine Room is a better fit with owner Jared Merlino’s other venues: bars Kittyhawk and The Lobo, and late-night restaurant and bar Big Poppa’s. But he doesn’t want Bartolo to take itself too seriously. Big Poppa’s wine list has won awards, but Bartolo’s is about having fun.
The wine collection is around 180 bottles strong , and for summer Bartolo does alcoholic slushies, available from a takeaway window that once served coffee to passers-by in the mornings. The menu was developed by head chef Sam Bennett (One Ford Street) to befit a wine room. There are leek fonduta (fondue) fritters with salt cod; beef tartare served with pizza crust; and an ox-heart tomato and burrata salad. The pasta is house-made (Bartolo shares a pasta machine with Big Poppa’s) – there’s spaghetti with Italian sausage, clams and Calabrian hot sauce, and ruffled malfadine noodles tossed with zucchini, herbs, chilli, Parmigiano Reggiano and lemon.
The space has been painted a moody dark blue, and shelving has been added to house the growing wine collection.