Vanessa: There is a new kid in town on the wharf in Woolloomooloo, that is sure to be a sensation in the coming summer months. Molo Bar, a permanent pop-up nestled between Manta and China Doll, exudes an ambience that will transport patrons to the Italian Riviera.
Molo has been designed as a destination where guests can come to enjoy a pre or post-dinner drink or even make a night of it, as the menu offers a variety of dishes from light to substantial. The menu is reflective of simple, southern Italian coastal flavours with a Venetian influence. Molo’s own sommelier is on hand to match and offer suggestions of the appropriate wines for any of the dishes on offer.
Bianca, Alex and I settled in, on what was a glorious sunny late afternoon, and were instantly struck by how much of a European vibe it had. That would also be our first encounter with the Italian sparkling wine, Franciacorta, not to be confused with prosecco. Molo’s owner, Ricardo Bernabei, explains that similarly to champagne, Franciacorta is only genuine if the grapes come from the territory of Franciacorta near the province of Brescia in northern Italy. Molo serves a brand of Franciacorta called Bella Vista which is light, slightly sweet and ever so easy to drink! The price point is similar to that of Verve, so it is one to sit back and savour and, being a new mum with limited opportunities for evening drinks, I did just that!
Molo’s menu offers a variety of different plates that promote the ethos of simplicity done well. The menu has its permanent fixtures but also its specials depending on produce and the creativity of the Chef and owners. That day we were privy to a new dish of tuna cream served in a lemon with some lightly toasted crostini ($14). I, personally, really enjoyed this as the tuna flavours were subtle with just the right amount of zest from the lemon. Something I wouldn’t ordinarily think to order but I was impressed by the creativity of this dish.
The Crudo ($24) , meaning raw, changes daily and on this occasion, it happened to be a serving of prawn alongside other seafood such as muscles and calamari. The overall flavour was very subtle, so much so that the seafood taste was ever so slight, with olive oil being a more prominent note on the palate. Visually this was an impressive display of creativity but it did receive mixed reviews amongst us.
The eggplant involtini ($18) consisted of 3 portions of eggplant enveloping a delightful filling of buffalo ricotta, basil and tomato. This makes for a suitably rich shared option, with three pieces in the serve. This was one of my favourites and one I would definitely recommend trying.
The bruschetta ($15) consisting of buffalo mozzarella, roasted peppers, mint and Sardinian pecorino was definitely a standout. Thin slices of toasted crostini form the base of the bruschetta and each of the individual items blends together in perfect harmony. This is something I would order over and over again, not only due to its simplicity but it is a perfect accompaniment for those just wanting a small bite alongside a glass of wine.
You can also opt for more substantial dishes from their menu, of which we sampled three served with a glass of the bold Italian red, Cerro Nero di Troia.
The grilled veal scallopini with kipfler potatoes ($33) was cooked perfectly and was a true testament to Molo’s ethos of good food, served simply which really allowed the flavours to stand out and speak for themselves.
The fish of the day (market price) was a grilled John Dory served with white asparagus and olive tapenade. This was a hearty fillet of fish with a beautiful, subtle taste.
The desserts were a hit amongst all of us. We tried an Italian dark chocolate mousse ($15) which was dense in texture and reached the perfect intersection between bitter and sweet! For someone like me who isn’t really a fan of chocolate based desserts, this was a definite crowd pleaser.
The lemon tart ($15) was cleverly balanced by the mascarpone ice cream to offset the tartness of the lemon. Round this off with one of the dessert wine options, and you have yourself a perfect end to the night!
Molo’s ideal location, mixed with its unique offering, sets it apart from the other eateries on the wharf. Whether it is a pre/post-dinner drink you are after, or even if Molo is your first and final destination, it is guaranteed to transport your mind and stomachs to the Italian coast!
Photos by Alex
*For Foods Sake dined as guests of Molo Bar, a special thank you to Ricardo for his hospitality