Category Archives: Italian

Mille Vini – a thousand times “Yes!”

surryhills2010 Rating;

Vibe: 4 stars

Design: Earthy Tuscan rustica meets slick Sydney bar.  Sandstone bare walls cosy up to dark wooden tables, low lighting and an exposed wine cellar.  Warm, elegant and cosy.

Food: 4 stars

Damage: Entree: $12-$24 Mains: $23-$34 Dessert: $12 Wines by the glass from $7, by the bottle from $35

Mille Vini's exterior

I have a confession to make.  I’ve been to Mille Vini more than once.  Forgive me father for I have sinned, many times.  A thousand times?  Well not quite, but I have frequented this chic hole-in-the-wall more often than is healthy.  A couple of hail marys and I can be back on my sinful way, you say?  Well sign me up and call me a Catholic so that I may once again worship at the alter of a thousand wines!

Mille Vini is one of those rare little delights that Sydney manages to cultivate seemingly out of nothing from time to time.  With a solid pedigree that hails from those talented folk who built Pizza e Birra, Mille Vini is what happens when excellent taste meets authenticity meets demand meets surryhills2010.  Seriously, if I were to design the perfect wine bar cum restaurant, this pretty much would be it.  Great design that evokes warmth and sophistication without pretense, looking up from your Pinot Grigio you wouldnt be surprised to see Sophia Loren scooting past on a Vespa at 2 in the afternoon its so Euro.

Mille Vini interior

Thats right, its authentic.  From a miniature galley kitchen, the corridor that manages to fit no less than 6 tables, right down to its open air bar seats at the front, Mille Vini would not be out of place shoe-horned down any tiny laneway in Siena, save for the Aesop products inside ‘il bagno’. Sadly, unlike in Siena, it is more than likely that you will be forced to wait up to 45mins for a table if you arrive after 7.30pm on any given night of the week.  Of course there are no bookings so your best bet is to put your name down with the staff and take a stroll down Crown St to Yulli’s to wait it out (check out my Yulli’s review in this blog).

As is the great tradition in Italian enoteca’s, wine is always consumed with food.  Mille Vini does a cracking trade in delicious spuntini (bar snacks), antipasto & heartier dishes designed to be easily shared.  From the stuffed calamari, Nonna’s home made gnocchi, the superb cheese platter and everything else in between, Mille Vini‘s deft and authentic Italian touch ensures each dish delivers a delicate yet flavourful punch with every bite.

Stuffed calamari with tomato salsa

Figs wrapped in proscuitto with blue cheese

Cheese board with honey and quince jelly

But let’s face it, Mille Vini is all about the wine.  It ain’t called ‘thousand wines’ for nothing.  As you sit, literally surrounded by the colossal wine store and ponder its even more daunting leather bound ‘vino libro’, fear not dear reader, your humble waiter is not only a dashingly handsome italian with piercing blue eyes, but also a bonified wine expert.  Yet another layer to the authenticity of this great enoteca is the fact that all of the staff are schooled in the breadth of the old and new worldly wine list and thereby well qualified to offer up educated recommendations.

Some of the wines on offer...

It is my humble opinion that when faced with the option to go Old World, one should always take it.  Thanks to this M.O, and Mille Vini, I have been introduced to some of the most delightful Barolos, Albariños & Moscatos with delicious results.  Not that my liver really needs any further introduction to such temptations…

Mille Vini is the original small bar, but so much more.  The perfect spot to watch the hipsters and fashionistas slink by, sup on some saporous food & wine and share in the good life.  It maybe Italian for a thousand wines, but Mille Vini is more accurately ‘la dolce vita’, the sweet life.  I’ll be going back for sure!

Loco Tip:  Mondays you’ll be lucky enough to score my fave, the $16 pasta & vino deal.

Mille Vini

397 Crown St

Surry Hills NSW 2010

P: 02 9357 3366


Mon 5pm-10pm;

Tue-Wed 5-11pm;

Thu 8am-11pm;

Fri-Sat 8am-12 midnight;

Sun 8am-10pm


13b – Hemingway meets the Great Gatsby

surryhills2010 Rating;

Vibe: 4 stars

Design: Ernest Hemingway would approve of the dark petroleum coloured walls, marble top tables and Louis XV inspired wall sconces and bar.

Food: 2.5 stars

Damage: what you’d expect from a hip Sydney bar; $4-22 mains; $15-20 cocktails

13b interior


13b is a safe haven of heaven against the bridge and tunnel invasion on a Friday night in Surry Hills.  Formally known as The Safe House, it’s a small bar in the truest sense of the word.  It’s tiny.  Right now thats OK coz its still blissfully under the radar.  Something that surprised my pal and I when we strolled in at 8.30pm this Friday night with no booking.  You can imagine our surprise to find this charming little nook blissfully devoid of Homo Sapiens Boganis especially having just followed a mass pack of them down Riley St on our way to the bar.  And that’s one of the supremely great things about Surry Hills.  Around every corner, down a little laneway, up a flight of concealed stairs and through a non-descript door is potentially a golden little nugget of a bar or restaurant just waiting to be discovered.

Located at the hippest address in town right now, the triumvirate of Dr Pong, Commons Local Eating House and Pocket Bar, Burton St north of Oxford (Bur-No-Ox) 13b Burton St, Darlo is a wine-bar-cum-bistro intriguingly named 13b, of course, after its address.

Intimate coffee den by day, wine bar by night, 13b is pleasingly minute with a limited charter, but one that it seeks to do well.  That limited charter restricts itself to a small menu of mod-oz classics and a few whacky tapas style plates for good reason.  The kitchen is small and the experience behind the bar is really the key selling feature of this joint.  Cocktails both old school and new are really what sets this place apart.  With a sassy nod to the Prohibition era, the cocktail list reads like an F. Scott Fitzgerald  novel and takes in old classics like the Negroni, but spices things up by conga-lining it down to the Caribbean (Rum replaces Gin) with their original take on the martini.  On our visit, we worked our way through the list by starting with the Maple Rose (Maker’s Mark, maple syrup, lemon juice, with a rosemary garnish), tripped onto the signature  13b martini, a refreshing concoction of watermelon, kaffir lime, herradura blanco tequila, pomme verte with a hint of apple, until finally weaving our way merrily towards the Don Corelone.  It’s a testament to the power of this drink that I can’t actually remember what’s in it – rest assured, it was good!

a Maple Rose & 13b Martini

Personally,  I wouldn’t go to 13b for the food.  I’d go back for the welcoming and embracing Paris-after-dark vibe, the stupendously good cocktails and a smile from one of those hip bartenders.  Apparently the coffee is top notch and the weekend breakfast worth the trip, but I’ll have to leave that review up to you guys….surryhills2010 is onto the next hip joint on your behalf.


13b Burton St
Darlinghurst 2010

P: 02 9356 8718


Tuesday – Saturday: 7am – Midnight

Sunday: 8am – 4pm

Pizza Mario – its super!

surryhills2010 Rating;

Vibe: 3.5 stars

Design: Chic, earthy natural elements balance out cool industrial surfaces.  Hints of authentic Italian trattoria motifs.  Natural light abounds in this glass walled display case of a space.  Wanna be seen by all and sundry?  This is the place for it.

Food: 4 stars

Damage: minimal, $35pp sees you full and happy.

Welcome to Pizza Mario

Welcome indeed.  If a hearty ‘Buono Sera!’ upon entry to your fave local pizza joint is the welcome you lust after, then the warm hearted chaps of Pizza Mario will be only to keen to give it to you.  Once upon a time the cashmere clad of Burton Street’s inappropriately named ‘Republic’ building in Darlo got to call this fab little pizzeria their local, when it was conveniently located at the bottom of their Burton Katon Haliday designed apartment building.  Thankfully, for us south of Oxford St (So-Ox), pizzaiolo David Cowdrill and son Marcos, saw fit to pick up sitcks and move a kilometre across the road to The Ivy at St Margaret’s, for the promise of a shiny new restaurant full of marble, more table room and access to a slightly less ‘sparkly’ clientele.

It’s well documented that Pizza Mario is the only pizzeria in the Antipodean to be accredited with the coveted ‘Vera Pizza’ label.  Their number, 153, suggests that this accreditation, bestowed by the l’Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana upon those pizza makers devoted to the authentic application of the Neopolitan method, is a rarity and one to be admired.  Having tasted pizzas the world over and experiencing everything from a nori, bacon and Japanese mayo pizza pie (surprisingly moreish), to the thinnest and crispiest of pizzas in Florence and everything in between, I can attest that those crazy Neopolitans know a thing or two about making the best pizza in the world.  And the guys at Pizza Mario give it a pretty good crack too.

Apparently, the Neopolitan way dictates you must only use your hands in shaping the dough, pizza must be cooked on the bare floor of a proper wood burning pizza oven, toppings must not conflict with the rules of gastronomy (now those are some rules Id like to see…and then apply to some of the more bizarre molecular gastronomic experiments I’ve had the misfortune to have eaten in recent times), and finally, the most important of all, the pizza must be soft, well cooked and with a high soft crust.  Well sign me up and call me Vera, for I can confirm that Pizza Mario is steadfastly applying their mettle to all of those rules.

Pizzas are wonderfully soft, well cooked and with delightful crust.  Super thin bases are sparingly adorned with the minimum of ingredients to ensure a powerfully balanced set of flavours is delivered to your mouth with every bite.  This is about simplicity of ingredients.  No fancy attempts at tricking up what is essentially Mother Nature’s most pure of cuisines.  Margherita is simply tomato sauce with mozzarella and basil.  Nothing more, nothing less.  And delicious!  OK, they do give you the option of adding either mushroom, olives or ham but rest assured, the combination of flavours has been researched and confirmed by Head Pizziaola as ‘vera pizza’ worthy.  So option away!

Margherita with mushroom

Cut into just four large quarters, this is a pizza you fold in half and wrap your chompers around heartily, as gooey mozzarella cheese drips tantalisingly from your chin.  Scrummy and super sexy if youre on a date (this is the moment in a rom-com where the 2 protaganists realise they are meant for each other while a suitably jaunty music score swells as a happy montage of handholding, strolling & arcade game playing unfolds).  Anyway, I digress.

It’s not just pizza on the menu.  Seasonal specials are scratched daily onto the blackboard and should always be considered in your overall menu selection.  On our visit, as figs are in season, the normally delish proscuitto and melon starter was updated with the addition of fresh figs.  The prosciutto is just as it is in Italy – perfectly aged and sliced to perfection.  Melt in your mouth.  Scrumdiddilyumptious.  Lightly fried calamari is moist, springy, salty and tasty.  Zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and pinenuts are light and moreish.  Salads continue the simplistic use of good produce in the pursuit of supreme flavour.  Check out their website if you want to see the full extent of their menu – rest assured, consistency is key to this restaurants success.

Prosciutto & fig

Did someone say beer?  Look, Im a fan of a lively sangiovese any day of the week, and there are certainly a few nice ones on offer here, but if you’re going to have a proper pizza-night-out, its gotta be beer…and its gotta be Italian.  They have Peroni on tap.  Nothing crisper and more refreshing on a hot summer’s eve, so do yourself a favour and do the whole pizza-night-out properly.  Drink Beer. (no I havent been paid by Peroni to say that)

The atmos here is great.  It feels just like the family run trattorias you come across all over Italy.  There is love in the room and the joint is more often than not well patroned by real Italians.  That’s a good sign in my book.  If the real McCoy deign the place worthy of their palates, then there must be something good going on here.  Plus, Im a sucker for some lyrical Italian conversation going on in the background while I eat.  Every time I’ve eaten here (or taken away) I’ve received the friendly, warm kind of service you hope for in a local restaurant.  This place genuinely manages to make you feel like they know you, whether they recognise you or not.  Hey, just coz I’m a city girl doesnt mean I don’t crave a little country style familiarity.

Whilst the decor is simple and industrial, Pizza Mario manages to be warm and inviting at the same time.  Green and white checkered paper cloths deliver an authentic, easy-going vibe and the friendly wait staff look after you with warmth and efficiency.  Pizza Mario is an oasis in the wind swept void that is the strangely barren St Margaret’s piazza.  Go there for your next fully, proper pizza-night-out.  And drink the Beer.  Seriously.  Drink it.

Pizza Mario

The Ivy @ St Margaret’s

417 -421 Bourke St

Surry Hills NSW 2010

P: 02 9332 3633


7 nights from 6pm

take away available


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