Restaurant News

Coming soon to Sydney: Paski, a wine bar and restaurant by 10 William St and 121BC alumni

It’s a two-level ode to pasta and Italian natural wines, by a trio of hospitality pros.

By Callum McDermott
(Left to right) Giorgio De Maria, the eponymous Paski, Enrico Tomelleri, Mattia Dicati. Photo: Nikki To
Come to Paski, and you'll be in safe hands. The Italian wine bar and restaurant in Sydney's Darlinghurst (which opens on Monday) has the backing of a trio of hospitality guns who take their food and wine seriously.
Giorgio De Maria, Enrico Tomelleri and Mattia Dicati. Sound familiar? De Maria is the former sommelier of the now-closed 121BC, and gregarious owner of Giorgio De Maria's Fun Wines, a wine seller and importer that deals exclusively with artisanal and minimal intervention Italian wines. He also co-founded Rootstock, the dearly departed but massively influential natural wine festival. You might know Tomelleri, meanwhile, from his days as head chef at 10 William St and Fratelli Paradiso. And Dicati? He's the former sommelier at 10 William St and now runs Vino Mito, a new wine-importing business that also focuses on bottles from lo-fi Italian winemakers.
Although it sounds like Paski's been in the works for a long time, when De Maria was initially offered the lease, he turned it down.
"I wasn't initially looking to open a place, but then I thought about how beneficial it would be to have somewhere that could become a showcase of what I do," says De Maria. "I sell my wines to a lot of different venues in Australia, but there's no one that stores all of my wine."
"And most importantly, I can serve you a wine and tell you everything about it because I've been there several times – it's the direct narrative that's so important for these kinds of products."
Downstairs at the walk-in only bar, Paski Vineria Popolare, it's all about the wine. On the shelves, custom-made by artist and steelworker Dion Horstmans, you'll find over 400 bottles of wine from both Giorgio De Maria's Fun Wines and Vino Mito's ranges. There are wines by-the-glass, but by-the-bottle is the true focus. There's bar-stool seating for around 25 people, and a menu that's heavy on cheese and charcuterie: San Daniele prosciutto, bresaola, salami, Prosciutto di Parma, all the usual salumi suspects. The rest of the menu is made up of "things that you would eat on the street," says De Maria, including snacks such as fried baccalà (salted cod). If you'd rather take your wine straight home, that's an option too.
Head upstairs to restaurant Paski Sopra, where Tomelleri will turn out wine-friendly Italian. There are a number of pasta dishes including hand-rolled parmesan anolini (similar to ravioli), tagliatelle with ragù di cortile ("courtyard pasta," usually made with poultry or fowl) ,and classics such as spaghetti al pomodoro. There's also a slightly different wine list, which includes some rare bottles.
Paski Vineria Popolare's bar Photo: Nikki To
For De Maria, Paski is the physical embodiment of the relationships he's formed. (For one, the whole place is named after his pet dog Paski.) He, Dicati and Tomelleri were friends before they became business partners. Jad Silvester, of Silvester Fuller, handled interiors – he worked with Giorgio on the final Rootstock festival in 2017. Glass-blower Brian Hirst, meanwhile, has hand-made every wine glass and water glass in use at Paski (Hirst and De Maria designed the Penguin wine decanter in 2011, which is now widely used in some of the country's best wine bars and restaurants.) Long-time friend, collaborator and Italian artist Gianluca Cannizzo (aka My Poster Sucks) is responsible for the mural – a riff on The Last Supper that involves a lot more wine than water– on the ground floor. Most of all though, Paski is about the artisanal Italian winemakers that De Maria is bringing to a wider audience.
"Ten years ago I wouldn't have had enough wine to run a venue, and now there are producers I've been working with for 10 years," Di Maria says. "This is about existing relationships coming together – it's my kind of venue."
As one of Sydney's most important party strips, Oxford Street's seen better days. But over the last couple of years, some exciting wine-focused venues have added some polish to its well-worn corners. Dimitri's Pizzeria arrived from Surry Hills in late 2019 and has a thoughtful list of new-school wines. Then came Café Freda's around the corner, with a tight and fun wine list that's a perfect partner to chef Xinyi Lim's playful menu. Further up Oxford you'll find P&V Wine Merchant's second outpost, which opened at the start of the year. And now we have Paski. Cheers to that.
239 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, NSW
Paski Vineria Popolare (downstairs) Mon–Sat 3pm–late
Paski Sopra (upstairs) Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, Saturday, 5.30pm– late (Only open on Wed for tasting and events)