Merivale struck absolute gold with Totti’s – the perennially packed, breezy Italian eatery tucked in the back of the Royal Hotel on Bondi Road. So, why not double down on its runaway success? It’s a move that makes perfect sense, and it’s exactly what the hospitality heavyweights are looking to do in the CBD with the opening of Bar Totti’s.
There may not be a sunny courtyard on the ground floor of the Ivy complex, but most of what’s made the restaurant such a hit has made the commute to the George Street digs: the rustic and retro Mediterranean look and feel, an accessible list of easy-drinking wines and unfussy classic cocktails, and – of course – that incredibly delicious and gloriously puffy wood-fired bread.
Antipasti is the focus at this more compact, snack-centric younger sibling, with more than 20 options to choose from, including sardines and anchovies, cheese and salumi, as well as seasonal fruit, pickled and marinated vegetables. Pastas and more substantial mains will join the party in due course, but for now, shared plates from the grill round things out – zucchini with mint and pangrattato, say, or the likes of chilli king prawns, duck hearts with grapes and radicchio, and beef tongue sauced in salsa verde. Chef Mike Eggert’s ever-popular tiramisu and Neapolitan ice-cream sandwiches round things out on the sweet side.
The venue’s split into two distinct parts: a slightly more restaurant-like front room facing George Street that takes cues from the Bondi original, and a moodily-lit, more intimate space out back that centres around a horseshoe bar (with DJs on the ones and twos for extra vibe). There are no bookings, no set dining times for lunch or dinner and a license that stretches till 2am if the mood is right. And if the OG is anything to go by, that’s pretty much a guarantee.