Spritzed and spruced
Reviving the site of one of Thornbury's original 1950s espresso bars is newcomer Pallino Bar. From the 1950s to the mid-'70s, Italian migrants gathered at the bar to play bocce, drink espresso and banter, a tradition that first-time bar owner Louise Zelencich (ex-Gertrude Hotel and Honey Bar, South Melbourne) is keen to revive. As well as the sunny astroturfed yard, you'll find simple bar snacks (think local salumi and lumps of reggiano), spritzes and craft beer on tap.
Details: Pallino Bar, 790 High Street, Thornbury, 9484 7968.
Clever Polly raises the bar
Named after the children's book Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf, Clever Polly's is a new natural wine bar in North Melbourne. "Polly always stayed one step ahead of the wolf," says co-owner Lou Chalmer, "and we plan to stay one step ahead here." The focus is on natural wines - those that have no chemical or technological intervention during production. "The more I learned about natural wines, the more clear it became that we should be drinking this way," says the sommelier, who has a food science degree.
Chalmer, who owns the bar and bottleshop with her partner, Cam Beatty, and brother and sister-in-law, Rohan and Anita Chalmer, has renovated the former Hound Dog's Bop Shop, using recycled timber for the bar and tables, and installing artwork by local artist Monique Revell, as a homage to the children's story. There is a small list of share-friendly dishes and 130 wines, mostly from France, Italy, Austria, Spain and Australia. It is open from noon, Tuesday through to Sunday.
Details: Clever Polly's, 313 Victoria Street, North Melbourne, 9077 9294.