Italian food takes centrestage as the Rushcutters Bay space is transformed into Bar Machiavelli.
Number 10 Neild Avenue in Rushcutters Bay should have some tales to tell. Since it first opened as a restaurant in 2011, high-profile restaurateurs have come and gone and, from today, its walls will be privy to some new secrets.
Bar Machiavelli is the next chapter: a 160-seat Italian pasta bar and diner from Paola Toppi, of Machiavelli restaurant in the CBD and Sciue Sciue in Double Bay. "Bar Machiavelli is a pastaria," she says. "No secondi, just antipasti and beautiful and simple bowls of pasta."
In the past five years the site has seen everything from luxed-up kebabs under the guidance of Robert Marchetti and Maurice Terzini to a cook's co-op of heirlooms as Rushcutters with Marty Boetz, and milk flan with dulce de leche during a brief stint as POPteño. But Toppi is unfazed by number 10's track record, and believes the high-energy and casual Bar Machiavelli is exactly what the warehouse space needs. "Big restaurants are hard to fill, sure, and when we opened Machiavelli in the CBD it was a white elephant," she says. "That was 27 years ago, and I still love white elephants."
Most of the pasta will be handmade on site and, apart from Machiavelli's signature duck ragù pappardelle, most will be done with sauces "that don't take hours to make, but are made to order", says Toppi. There'll be the likes of tagliatelle with pesto, pine nuts and parmesan alongside antipasti such as golden panko-crumbed prawns, culatello and a carpaccio of the day.
Matteo Belkeziz, late of Rockpool Bar & Grill and Palmer & Co, has developed the cocktail list, which is built on Italian classics with a Mediterranean twist. The menu includes a barrel-aged Negroni made with grappa, a monthly Bellini special and a Tiramisù Martini - "no spoon or fork required".
Jason Mowen's design combines a central bar, red-leather banquettes and black and white projections of Italian movie stars on the room's exposed brick walls (cue the selfies with Sophia Loren).
"I've been able to do my thing from top to toe," says Toppi. "Everything is exactly how I want it."
Bar Machiavelli, 10 Neild Ave, Rushcutters Bay, NSW, (02) 9357 7750, barmachiavelli.com; Mon-Fri 6pm-midnight, Saturdays 4pm-midnight