Two fellas, rock ‘n’ roll music, Danish pizza and a game of Carrom. You in?
It’s like walking into your crazy uncle’s lounge room. Comic strips and tour posters are pasted onto walls and pillars, a meadow of plastic flowers grows from the ceiling, cherry print vinyl is laid over tables, skull candles burn atop of fireplaces and the battle between which band is superior - The Beatles or The Stones - lingers in the air and on the walls.
Rocco Tozzi is for The Beatles. His partner in Rocafelas crime, Nate Johnson (ex-Anchor Bar) is The Stones fan. And while this rock ‘n’ roll icon rivalry is clearly apparent within their venture (Nate scribbled The Stones’ Some Shelter lyrics, ‘The storm is threatening/ my very life today/ if I don’t get some shelter/ oooh I’m gonna fade away’, on top of the bar only to discover, days later, that Rocco had chalked the words ‘Hey Jude’ and a series of “na na nas” above a doorway in subtle revenge), there’s no rivalry when it comes to the dynamics of their outfit.
Well, except when it comes to the playlist. But tonight, Rocco’s playing nice and, much to Nate’s surprise, has chosen a Stones’ track which blares through the four vast and varied rooms.
Off to the side there’s the old library with Freda-esque painting, a box of board games - including carrom, which Nate explains is “basically a Nepalese version of pool” - for play and in the future, a collection of books from Nate and Rocco’s private collections. The front room is pure rock ‘n’ roll; cherry skull prints cover the booths, a battered black leather chair with red trimming pushes into a corner under the spotlight of a disco ball and wooden boards scream to be stomped on. “Yeah, we’re thinking about having some live music in the corner,” Nate says. “Not really acoustic, but maybe blues on weekends and Thursday nights.”
A Day of the Dead theme takes claim of the back room - this is largely attributed to the decor they inherited from the previous outfit, the Cantina del Sol pop-up. Then, there’s that all-weather back decking area, which is all art-meets-tack in a display of local street art and neon green palm leaves.
It’s here, on the back “porch” where the locals collect. And that’s how Nate likes it. “We really want to draw in those living in the area,” he says. The best thing? They don’t have to stumble home early either. “We’ve got a restaurant license so the lockout laws don’t apply for us,” says Nate. Meaning you can whet your whistle with one of the cocktails off the short and sweet list that he, planted firmly behind the bar, shakes up into the wee hours. The Dark & Stormy (Stolen Coffee & Cigarettes spiced Rrm, ginger, lime) is crisp and clean, but for something special, there’s the Desert Cruiser (tequila, grapefruit).
The meal options are much the same. Special, that is. The super thin crust pizza is baked crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside and reads of Neapolitan origin. FYI, it’s not. “Our head-chef is actually Danish,” says Nate. “And this is how Danes make their pizza.” Who knew? Locals, take note: they go for steal at $10 on Wednesdays.
The rest of the menu is purely Italian. Why? “Because you can’t go wrong with pizza and alcohol,” says Nate. “It’s what people like.” Touche. There’s pasta, meatballs, arancini balls and tiramisu to tuck into, courtesy of ex-Victoria Room and Anchor Bar chef Jess Playford. Then, there’s the sausage roll. Forget all sentiments your mind is conjuring up of a greasy, tomato sauced-up Aussie roll, this is an Italian dish remember? Instead, imagine a sausage sanga, only the bread is brioche, the meat, Italian and the sauce, sweet sweet tomato and capsicum jam.
And jam the lot into your mouth.
That’s the way these “Rocafelas” do it.
Where: 1 Kellett Street, Potts Point
Opening Hours: Tuesdays to Thursdays (6pm-1am), Fridays and Sundays (6pm-3am).