Isn't it strange (or is that ironic) when you don't see someone for years, then you bump into them several times in a matter of weeks? So it was when I went back to Bacco Wine Bar and Pasticceria in Chifley Plaza - it had been ages since my first (lone) visit, then I ended up there twice in as many weeks.
So what you see here is a combination of the lunches that I had with some friends...
The Bacco Wine Bar is a cafe that is at the back of the foyer of the Chifley building. It's a dark, inviting space with a preparation area to one side, where fresh pasta is rolled out, and a separate wine 'cellar' that has a door handle shaped like a bunch of grapes.
The menu is Italian, and is split into sections, including Antipasti, Formaggi, Salumi, and Pesci. You also get bread with olive oil when you order. On both occasions that I ate there, my friends and I stuck with the Primi pasta dishes (same menu both times).
First visit: The risotto con scampi ($24) was a reasonable serve of creamy risotto in scampi bisque topped with scampi pieces. Slightly over-salted, but flavoursome, so I'm told.
I had the gnocchi di rape rose ($23), which was beetroot gnocchi with calamari pieces and broccolini puree. This was really good, with the small-sized gnocchi being smooth and beautifully cooked.
The tortelli di asparagi ($22) was tortelli filled with asparagus puree and fresh ricotta, served with 'montasio fondue', which was a cheese sauce. My friend was hoping that this wasn't going to be a single tortelli, so was pleased when five fat tortelli arrived on the plate.
A nice touch: the waitstaff place the plates with the Bacco insignia facing the diner.
Second visit: I wanted to have the beetroot gnocchi again, but decided to go with the fettucine al cervo ($22), which was pasta tossed with venison ragu. While the fettucine and sauce were very good, I found the venison pieces a bit dry. And while I was eating, I thought I tasted cleaning product - has this ever happened to you? You know, where you get a whiff of fragrance but don't actually taste it? Strange.
Another strange thing - whenever someone at the table orders dessert, I have to have a dessert, too! So we had a tiramisu ($12) and the cestino di ricotta alla Siciliana ($12). I was disappointed with my cestino - it was a pastry basket, according to the menu, with 'ricotta, berries and vanilla sauce'. They must have run out of berries, because it came with a bunch of grapes, so I felt a bit ripped off. The pastry basket had gone soft sticky so it was hard to snap pieces off it, so I left most of it. The tiramisu was a much better option.
We also had a variety of coffees - another nice touch is that the ladies' coffees had a heart drawn into the foam...
All up, both meals were good, reasonable value. The service is friendly and efficient, and you feel like you are being looked after.
On the way out, you have to walk past the Pasticceria, where there is an amazing array of cakes displayed in the glass cabinet.Being quite satisfied from lunch, I bought some macarons to take away - can't remember what was what although the white one was coconut. No discernible flavour (except sweet), but they did look good. The Pasticceria remains a place to ogle the cakes and plan my next visit. I might take bets on when that will be.
Bacco Wine Bar and Pasticceria is on the ground floor of 2 Chifley Square, Sydney, NSW. Ph: 02 9223 9552