Caffè Bartolo is an all day eatery Italian eatery with exuberant service, great food and drinks. And did I mention it's also very dog friendly and takes bookings? Win win all around.
I was sitting in bed one Sunday morning trying to figure out where to go for brunch or lunch. It needed to be dog friendly and then as if by magic a friend's recommendation for Caffè Bartolo popped up.
Occupying the space that Bill's used to (they've moved just a few doors down), Caffè Bartolo is a cafe during the day but for lunch and at night the offerings go above just cafè style food. There's also aperitivo hour between 3-5pm.
When we walk in we are greeted with enthusiasm by someone I would have guessed was the owner but turns out isn't. They're just super friendly. We take a seat outside and choose a few options from the breakfast and lunch menu. The dog friendly touches are everywhere from the greyhound statue by the door, dog friendly bowls and greyhound photos in the bathroom. "How are you little princess? Would you like a biscotti?" a man asks Mochi and they become firm friends as they offers her an organic dog treat.
We ordered one thing from the breakfast menu and that was the pork and beef meatballs on a split rustic panino. There's a rich tomato sugo and parmesan fondue with smoked scarmoza cheese and in our case we add a soft yolked poached egg. These are fantastic meatballs that are tender with great flavour and they're made using owner Jared Merlino's grandmother Mary's recipe.
The octopus is a single grilled octopus tentacle, nicely charred on the outside and tender inside with a wonderful arrabiata sauce, nduja powder and bronze fennel. The octopus goes perfectly with that spicy, gutsy sauce.
We almost fight over the saffron gnocchi, heady with the unmistakeable and gorgeous scent of saffron. There are prawn pieces, chilli, wakame powder and zucchini flowers on top. The key to this dish are the fluffy pillows of tender gnocchi and that saffron aroma that makes this dish feel a bit special.
There's a lovely couple next to us who have also brought their dog along. Cookie is a Tibetan Spaniel and she and Mochi get along amiably.
We had all intentions of splitting a peach granita but I went inside to avail myself of the facilities and then was stopped by an arresting glass display of bombolini and biscotti. In fact I think I stared at this display for a good minute before realising I probably looked like a stalker. And that wasn't cool. So I order a bombolini and tea.
The tea service comes out on a lovely retro tray (in fact a lot of the plates have a lovely old skool Italian look about them) with a little hourglass to tell you when the tea has finished steeping. With the bombolini there's a choice of jam, Nutella or custard and I went for the custard. The sugar coated dough is light and sinks satisfyingly in my mouth with every bite.
The peach granita is a softer, sorbet like confection and is served traditionally as they do in Sicily with brioche. The flavours are of pure white peach with just about the right amount of sweetness to it. I also love the oven warm brioche that it comes with. It's little details like warmed bread that delight me so. And little Mochi scores another dog biscuit as we leave so she's a fan too.
So tell me Dear Reader, what are you prerequisites when looking for a place to eat? A certain type of food? Price? Bookings? Dog friendly? And given the choice would you go for Nutella, jam or custard?
This meal was independently paid for.
353-355 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Open 7 days 7am–12am
Phone: 0455 027 378