Restaurant News

Opening soon: Bar Totti’s and its all-snacks menu, late-night agenda and Negronis for all

Merivale brings the success of Totti’s to the Sydney CBD, and it’s another hopeful harbinger of George Street's rejuvenation.

By Yvonne C Lam
The bar area at Bar Totti's.
Merivale is set to raise the curtain on Bar Totti's tomorrow, adding to the hospitality group's ambitious expansion of its Ivy precinct in the Sydney CBD.
Bar Totti's, led by chefs Mike Eggert and Jake Ahrens, has taken the most successful parts of Totti's in Bondi – the antipasti, the wood-fired oven, that wood-fired bread – and replicated them at the George Street venue, with late-night trading hours and live music thrown in for good measure.
It's opening in the same week that the wind-back of Sydney's lockout laws come into effect – an auspicious, perhaps strategic, date considering Merivale's vocal opposition to the laws. But with the completion of the light-rail project, the current Sydney Festival season and the recent opening of that other Italian-restaurant-of-the-moment, Ragazzi, all signs point to a revival of the city's main drag.
Chef Mike Eggert. Photo: Nikki To
"I thought I was way too laid-back to be doing something on George Street," says Eggert, who co-ran Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco, the pop-up good-times restaurant that was the genus for Totti's. "We really pin everything on providing the best experience for the customer, whether you're in a garage in Mascot surrounded by flashing neon lights or in a city-slick high-end place."
The famous bread emerging from the wood-fired oven. Photo: Steven Woodburn
There's big snack-energy coming from the menu. Column A is the antipasti, a choose-your-own grazing adventure that starts with that famous wood-fired bread, perambulates into charcuterie territory, with designated stops at chicken-liver parfait, marinated peppers and sardine-and-anchovy things along the way. "With the freshness and lightness from the antipasti at Bondi, it was easy to know where to take the menu," says Eggert.
Antipasti at Bar Totti's. Photo: Steven Woodburn
Column B takes it cues from Japan's yakitori tradition of pairing grilled-snack things with drink things: king prawns with chilli, say, or duck hearts with grapes and radicchio, or haloumi with nectarine and basil. The lot is best paired with a wine-by-the-glass from the Italian-leaning drinks list, or serves of Negroni available by the glass, half-litre or full-litre.
King prawns on the coal grill. Photo: Nikki To
Specials? Eggert has a few up his sleeve. Perhaps the mushroom-lasagne-pie hybrid, last spotted at his guest appearance at The Dolphin's Delfino Aperitivo sessions. "It's inspired by a timballo," says Eggert, referencing the celebratory Italian pasta-in-pastry dish. "I'll get slapped by a nonna if I told her it was a timballo. Luckily my nonna is Irish."
The bar area. Photo: Nikki To
Like the Bondi flagship, Bar Totti's is split into two spaces. The front dining room – call it the sensible room, if you like – looks onto George Street, while the downstairs is the designated party space complete with a horseshoe-shaped bar and a live DJ.
"You could sit up the front at a table and have the bread, something off the grill. Or you could be down the bottom, partying and dancing." says Eggert. "That's where I'll be, hopefully, after a 12-hour shift."
Bar Totti's, Ivy precinct, Shop 4/330 George St, Sydney, NSW,
Opens on Wed 15 January.
Open Mon-Sun noon-late.
  • undefined: Yvonne C Lam