Baker Bros. Espresso Bar is one of those places you could easily walk past, but you'll be infinitely rewarded if you don't.
It's an espresso-cum-wine bar, tucked away in a sleek hole-in-the-wall on York St and is the first venture from brothers Alessandro and Gianni Panetta. After spending a lifetime working in the lower rungs of family venues, the pair finally broke out to establish a place of their very own. A place where they could call the shots.
Their first independent decision? That espresso is nice, but wine makes it better. Come Thursday and Friday evenings, the brothers keep their doors open a little longer to tempt you with their selection of Italian and Australian vinos. Yes, there's something quite nice about having the same person grind your coffee beans in the morning and pour your Pinot Grigio at night.
If wine isn't your thing, why not grab an Espresso Martini? After all, these fellas are gaining a rep for some of the best coffee on York Street. And when you do, it'll likely be Gianni grinding your coffee beans and Alessandro handing you your change. That's just the kind of place this is.
It was after a trip to Italy that the boys began toying with the idea of emulating the Italian cafe culture for Sydney's caffeine-dependant workers. Fast forward a year and they're drawing in crowds with their traditional espresso prices. In Rome and Florence, Italian businessman pay just a Euro to drink their espresso at the bar. At Baker Bros., it'll cost you a buck.
If you haven't already realised, that warm and fuzzy one-big-family vibe is more than just a fraternal connection between the owners. Eat a sandwich at the breakfast bar and soon it'll be you fighting the urge to scrape your plate and then pop it in the sink. It's like a home away from home and that's exactly how they like it, thank you very much.
Correction: it's like your very stylish home away from home. Baker Bros. has that whole industrial-yet-inviting feel to it and manages to feel far bigger than its 26 person capacity.
Even the menu, a hearty selection of slow-cooked meat sandwiches, breakfast pastries and Mediterranean salads, complements that home-cooked vibe. The chef starts slow-cooking the meat first thing in the morning, so by lunchtime it's tender, juicy and bursting with flavour.
"We're cooking food that people don't want to cook at home anymore," says Gianni, which isn't surprising when you consider just how much forethought and time goes into slow cooking lamb. It's a different Sydney to the one he and Alessandro grew up in, where each morning they'd be greeted by the smells of garlic, onion and basil wafting through the house, evidence of that night's dinner already on the stove.
You might not be able to sample Mamma Panetta's cooking, but you can get your mitts on one of Baker Bros.' most popular sandwiches: slow cooked lamb shoulder, roasted tomato, pea puree, rocket and herb yoghurt served between crusty slices of sourdough bread.
And for $15, you can have it with a glass of wine.
Now that's what we call Italian hospitality.