Almost 70 years of history as a coffee shop, Piccolo Bar has completed it’s metamorphosis into Sydney’s smallest (and one of it’s coolest) new bars. Not just an allusion to the quick shot of caffeine keeping the locals going for the better part of a century, Piccolo is a tightly-packed step back in time.
Piccolo is tucked away on Roslyn street in Potts Point. Along a row of comparatively underwhelming shops and apartment blocks, the warm, red neon lights run across the sidewalk in an inviting manner not normally reserved for businesses in Sydney’s version of little Brooklyn. It’s a refreshing change of pace for the strip and serves to bring together the rich history of the tiny bar with its contemporary new clothes.
Seating just twenty people inside and eight outside (until 10pm), there’s every chance you will have to wait for a seat. We recommend you wait for it. You won’t be disappointed.
Once you do score your table, you’ll be greeted by owner, David Spanton, who, like Piccolo itself, is friendly and easy going. In a sea of brocentric and uber-cool bars, a welcome at the door of such lovely and unassuming kindness seems like a rarity in this day and age but it’s authentic, cemented by staff who will always remember you by name.
Spanton, the industry stalwart who also owns and runs Australian Bartender magazine is quick to take the time to give a tour of the tiny venue and explain any of the hundreds of pictures that take up whatever free space is on the walls. In this small but important gesture, Piccolo serves as an homage to Sydney venues from the past that have taken residence in Spaton’s heart.
There are photographs of the old Bayswater Brasserie (RIP), former Kings Cross residents and the occasional celebrity. Piccolo veered dangerously close to becoming one of the memories itself when it was nearly taken out by The Big C. The space became available during the earlier days of Covid and Spanton couldn’t bear to see the old coffee shop turn into anything other than a hospitality venue, so he took the opportunity to refresh the bricks and mortar and what an amazing feat he’s accomplished.
Lending to Piccolo’s staunchly Italian heritage, the menu focuses heavily on aperitivo style drinks. Think Negronis, mean Martinis, Garibaldis, Spritzes and an amazing selection of Amari. The recommended house serve is over ice with a wedge of orange which we wholeheartedly support – not often you find this greater variety in one place – it’s best not to mess with a good thing.
While there’s nothing wrong with sinking a cocktail or three, don’t overlook Piccolo’s surprisingly extensive snack selection. Taking advantage of what little space is available, the team are going the way of bars like La Salut by taking a creative approach to all that is tinned, pickled, fermented and cured. Whether it be as simple as olives and a baguette or the generous cheese and charcuterie board, Piccolo has enough to satisfy an afternoon session or even an early evening date. If you’re riding solo for the evening, the bar staff are experienced, professional and great to have a chat with over a greedy plate.
For the famished, the LP’s frankfurt or pecorino hot dogs should suffice but we’re of the school that it’s better to be safe than sorry and order two. They really are that good.
Piccolo proves the adage that good things very often do come in small packages and we’re sure with a bit of luck, this tiny but mighty piece of history is around for another 70 years to come.