Negroni taps, a loaded mozzarella bar, complimentary snacks and spritz for days.
Settle in for the evening and the rest of the night guys, I guarantee you’re going to want to soak up a little of everything at the bar at Matteo Downtown.
Led by the legends that gave Sydney The Lobo Plantation, Kittyhawk, The Island, and—you guessed it—Amalfi Coast-inspired Matteo in Double Bay, the new CBD restaurant and bar echoes the vibing and vibrant all-day eateries and sun-drenched piazzas of Milan and Rome.
Missed out on that Euro summer almost everyone under the sun seemed to lap up this year? Don't worry, an evening at Matteo Downtown will sort that FOMO.
Spread across a seriously enormous street-level spot on Bond Street, the new space was dreamt up by designers at Acme & Co. There is an alfresco terrace and a moody dining room lined with long leather booths and large terrazzo dining tables in azure blue and peachy terracotta. Then there's the bar—light and airy and framed in towering glass.
Encircling the bar are about 44 small-scale collages created by artist Daimon Downey, whose bright, energetic work also appears at Mrs. Sippy, North Bondi Fish, and Rae's at Wategos.
"The artworks are the only bright colours in the space apart from the sexy muted tones of the fittings and furniture so the art was set to become a bit of a statement," Daimon says. "I really love the spacing and design of old Italian posters but it needed a layer of fun, so throw in some Italian themed puns and a little jab here and there."
Matteo Downtown is truly an anytime, any way you like it style venue—there is a lot to love, morning through night. Hit the bar at 7 am for throws of Italian pastries like panino dolce, bombolone, sfogliatella or a selection of pasticceria-like croissants. In the dining room, you'll get an Italian spin on your scrambled eggs—served with pecorino, Italian-style pork sausages, pepper and cannellini beans.
At lunchtime, the team fire up two custom-made wood-fired Forni Visciano pizza ovens and the marble mozzarella bar, dishing out lashings of fresh-made cow milk burrata and stracciatella, comes to life. The concept is close to the heart of chef Orazio D’Elia, who grew up living all of our mozzarella dreams in Campagnia.
But, I'm getting sidetracked here. What's extra special about Matteo Downtown's dose of la dolce vita is their dedication to one of Italy's finest cultural affairs—aperitivo hour.
First of all, aperitivo hour here goes for, not one, but two hours. From 4 - 6 pm, five glorious days a week, you can indulge in a selection of Negronis (some on tap), classic and signature spritzes, and—an Italian aperitivo tradition—a selection of complimentary snacks sent out on roaming trays that showcase a little of the days best produce.
Imagine pizzetta, calzone, octopus and fried school prawns paired with Matteo's own spin on the spritz: Aperol, Campari, rhubarb bitters, prosecco and sparkling blood orange.
There are Italian organic red and white wine varietals on tap too, sourced from Orsogna Winery in Cheiti, Italy. Also on Bar Manager Maurizio Furiani's innovative drinks list is the Downtown Negroni (my favourite): a gentle update of the OG Count Camillo Negroni with Tanqueray gin, Campari, rosso and bitters.
Bar snacks to definitely try include Orazio's porchetta focaccia, an antipasto board, freshly shucked oysters, or crudo of the day. Feeling extra hungry? There's a full menu of pizza and calzone available too.
Salivating yet? Now you know why sixty minutes—even two hours—is simply not long enough.
On Thursdays and Fridays, aperitvo time will amp up even more with Sydney DJs spinning tunes.
Ready for a cocktail? Here are a few of Sydney's most outrageous.
Image credit: Bob Barrett.