As I was flicking through my delicious. magazine the other day I came across a page announcing that a new Fratelli Fresh & Cafe Sopra had opened up in Bridge Street Sydney – so of course we had to go!!
I knew about the one in Waterloo, but had never been – so really, it was time to remedy that! I met Osca Posca on the corner of Bridge & Pitt and we walked up to Fratelli together. It’s easy to find – don’t worry about it being a challenge just because it’s in a subterranean location. It’s just below Steersons and everything is clearly marked. Check pic above – piece of cake! (or tiramisu).
We got there bang on 6pm on a Wednesday and there was hardly anyone there, a couple of people at the drinks bar and maybe 2 tables seated already, so we thought we’d poke around the Fratelli side of things before sitting down. It’s all super cute, black storage racks with timber shelves and display boxes. No fuss and easy to update blackboards to the bottom of every shelf make it an up-market market. It’s something that obviously works very well for Mr Barry McDonald, for whom this is the fourth installation of the Fratelli Fresh empire (Waterloo, Potts Point, Walsh Bay and now CBD).
There are a few sections to this underground wonderland. As you walk down the stairs you find yourself facing the main kitchen and dining area. Up ahead is the Fratelli Fresh and Vicino racks and at the end of that is the Private Dining Room. Along the side of this area runs the Pizzeria, Mozzarella Bar & Apperitivo Bar. There is a corridor with more dining tables and another banquette room hidden by the back wall. Loos are off towards the back corner from the Apperitivo Bar and have a communal hand washing area, but separate sex vestibules. How’s that for a floor plan in words..?
We are seated by a lovely Host who let’s us sit wherever we like, and then change our minds again. Yep, THAT customer. Happily ensconced in the last of the banquette seats now available in the main seating area, things have been steadily filling up, we are offered a drinks menu and a pizza menu. The main menu is a gigantor black board with everything hazily squashed on. There is a lot to choose from and everyone must get out of their seats to read it, which unfortunately for the staff, creates a bit of a bottleneck.
We order a Zucchini Flower ($4.95) each, but share the Buffalo Mozzarella and tomato salad ($18), Chicken Liver Pate with green beans and cucumber with toasted ciabata ($20) and the Osso Buco and gnocetletti (? – just reading off the board) ($22).
Everything is scrumptious! Except… the tomatoes are a bit on the crunchy side and the osso buco looks like a ragu & pasta without sauce. Perhaps I didn’t understand the menu properly, but I was expecting to see a whole osso buco with the bone in a bit of a sauce. It was yummy, but didn’t really look very exciting = no pic.
I have to say, the chicken liver pate was really great. Not so much because of the pate itself, but because the accompaniments were perfect. Just the right amount of bread and that little bean and cucumber salad cut perfectly through the richness of it all. If you go, you have to order this!
Right, so more interiors, less pate, oops, plate stuff… The whole feel at Cafe Sopra is friendly, comfortable yet efficient. There is a real mix of people there. Some after workers, some on a date at the bar, some posh (the bloke next to us was talking about his Porche) and some not (us probably).
The interiors are paired back – exposed services in places, polished whatever was on the floors (some timber, some tiles, some concrete to fill it all in), vintage lamps, marble bar tops and white paint to most walls. You’ll also love the little orchids that are featured in every window box – so so pretty. Pops of colour are in green (the back corridor and window boxes) and red (the banquette seats) – kinda like the Italian flag don’t you think? The space was once an old spice market, but has been re-moulded into the must visit NOW place by Michael Delany. Read his linked-in profile – hilarious! Better yet – his website.
LOVE LOVE LOVE: The window boxes with orchids, friendly staff and the floor. (Oh, and the pate, but you already knew that!)
NOT LOVIN’: The Osso Buco.
NOISE: Surprisingly low.
HOW MUCH?!!: $$$$$
WHERE: 11 Bridge Street, Sydney
WHEN: Monday – Friday 12pm – 3pm and 6pm – 10pm, Aperitivo Bar 3pm – 6pm, Bar Pizzeria, Mozzarella Bar – 12pm – 10pm
Some photos from Broadsheet, as marked.