Restaurant Reviews

Bar Olo

The new wine bar from Italian veteran Scopri lands with style, charm and confidence.
Bar Olo wine bar rin Carlton, Melbourne. People sitting at barVanessa Claire
165 Nicholson St, Carlton

The name is a good place to start. Calling a bar focused on Piedmont, home of Barolo, Italy’s greatest red wine, Bar Olo is a dad joke that could only be landed by operators who know what they’re doing. Anthony Scutella and Alison Foley, owners of nearby long-running fan favourite Scopri, know exactly what they’re doing.

This is apparent not just in the most literal terms of Bar Olo’s wine list being stuffed with a knee-weakening cavalcade of brilliant Barolo, but from the moment you step through the curtained doorway into a thoroughly charming wood-panelled, parquetry-floored room. Just 40 seats, at a bar and bare timber tables, it’s the kind of space that immediately makes your shoulders relax, helped along by excellent service, honey-toned lighting and a mature, on-theme cocktail list (please consider their pitch-perfect Boulevardier).

It’s also there in the food. Bar Olo’s single-page menu offers crowd-pleasing choice – seriously good vitello tonnato lifted with fried capers, perhaps, or clean, crisp fritto misto boosted with a lick of heat via chilli salt – but is also compact enough to eliminate any decision-making quandaries.

There are just two pastas, for example, but they’re bar-sized portions and great for sharing so knock yourself out and order both. Fans of Scopri will be pleased to learn that the signature agnolotti del plin (little parcels stuffed with rabbit, veal and pork, tossed with butter and sage) has found its way here too. A second stuffed pasta option, perhaps spoja lorda (a flat ravioli filled with a layer of ricotta) tossed with a deft and immensely satisfying duck and porcini ragù, similarly ensures happiness.

Spoja lorda tossed with duck and porcini ragù at Bar Olo, Melbourne. (Credit Vanessa Claire)

Skilled simplicity abounds. Wagyu arrosticini, cubes of meat threaded on rosemary sprigs and grilled, are served on a bed of onion purée. A salad of mixed leaves is perfectly complemented by a simple, salty, lemon-forward dressing, while chips are hand-cut and skin-on and post-savoury courses consist solely of cheese and a tiramisù.

Drinking Barolo here is a no-brainer (there are always at least two by-the-glass if you’re unwilling to commit to a bottle) but fans of Italian wine in general are also well served, whether you’re thinking Sicilian nerello mascalese or verdicchio from La Marche.

There’s classic, old-world style and confidence to Bar Olo that in Melbourne’s current wine bar boom is both refreshing and appealing. Time to make room for a new favourite.

Bar Olo
165 Nicholson St, Carlton
Price Guide
Opening Hours
Dinner Wed-Sat

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