Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. It’s that quote that led restauranteur Riccardo Bernabei to create Molo Bar, an aperitivo wine bar on Sydney’s Woolloomooloo Wharf, tucked next to fine-dining restaurant Manta and open since 2017.
The bar’s décor, teal and white woven chairs, and diamond-shaped tiles in similar colours at the bar was designed by the owner Bernabei’s sister, Rina Bernabei, of Melbourne-based interiors firm Bernabei Freeman. The brief he gave her? To create a venue that feels like Capri in the 1960s.
“Molo is not like anything else in Sydney because it’s the city’s only small bar on the water,” says Bernabei.
Ingredients on the food menu are chosen based on the season, with Bernabei saying the team goes to extraordinary lengths to source them from provedores in Italian regions, like Sardinia, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily. The ingredients are then given space to shine, with the final result dishes simple dishes, all designed to be shared.
Starters are the likes of house-made focaccia, oysters, cured meats and fried calamari, while mains include pasta, steaks and seafood and, to finish, tiramisu and a platter of three different kinds of cheeses.
Among the pasta, the spaghetti vongole features a sauce with pinot grigio and garlic, while the rigatoni alla norma’s sauce is a mix of tomatoes, eggplant and ricotta salata. Steaks range from NSW Riverine eye-fillet to Little Joe sirloin bone and Jacks Creek Wagyu.
Bernabei says it’s the seafood, though, that he considers the venue’s best offering. “My favourite dishes on the menu are the daily seafood, the tuna tartare you mix yourself and the caviar,” he says. “We’ve had them on the menu since we opened.” The selection also features Ballina king prawns, WA market fish and pan-fried snapper.
As for the drinks menu, expect it to be entirely Italian, well-thought-out and with hard-to-source items. Bernabei says they’re best enjoyed as a sunset aperitif as you people-watch along Woolloomooloo Wharf.
The venue also offers Molo Bespoke, curated dining experiences for private parties and events with packages starting from one hour all the way up to functions, like engagements, birthdays and anniversaries, with just about any food and drink you’d like. Molo Boat’s offering sees you dining and drinking experiences aboard the venue’s yacht in a completely tailored package.
If you can’t make it to the coast of Italy this European summer like it appears the rest of Australia has done, Molo Bar just might be the next best thing.