Rocco's Bologna Discoteca gives way to Poodle Bistro and Bar in Fitzroy

A quality club sandwich with chicken crackling. 
A quality club sandwich with chicken crackling.  Photo: Emilio Scalzo

Poodle Bar, Gertrude Street's luxe new art deco restaurant and bar, was supposed to launch one week after shutdown was announced. Owners Zoe Rubino (former manager of Supernormal and Supernormal Canteen) and Emilio Scalzo had already hosted friends in the 200-seat venue for drinks. Predictably, they're nervous to see coronavirus cases rising as they head towards a new launch date of July 2.

But thanks to head chef Josh Fry (Marion, Cumulus Inc.), Poodle weathered the shutdown quite well, converting into an instantly popular sandwich shop, Rocco's Bologna Discoteca. The meatball subs and fried bologna sandwiches gained such a following the team are looking for a Fitzroy space to rehome it.

Poodle, meanwhile, will finally be revealed this week (COVID-willing). The spacious two-storey venue was formerly a boarding house. Before that, it was a butcher's shop. The previous owners discovered bones while renovating, and due to the site's proximity to Squizzy Taylor's stomping ground had to hand them to the police.

Poodle Bar and Bistro is finally opening after lengthy delays.
Poodle Bar and Bistro is finally opening after lengthy delays. Photo: Derek Swalwell

The Bergman and Co design is a festival of deco detail: soaring archways, glittering mirrored back bars (upstairs and down), palm tree sprays and luxe leather booths. There is a courtyard to the rear and a private dining room upstairs.

Fry's menu is the stuff of old-world hotels: prawn cocktails, a quality club sandwich brushed in chicken fat with chicken crackling, crab and tarama vol au vents and Parisian gnocchi. The cocktails will be classics, but giving the negroni and spritz canon a bit of a break.

While restrictions remain, there will be a set banquet for $70. When roving becomes possible, you will be able to select wines from the walk-in cellar. Will the Rocco meatball sub feature? In 2020, anything is possible, nothing guaranteed.

Crab and tarama vol au vents. 
Crab and tarama vol au vents.  Photo: Emilio Scalzo

Poodle Bar & Bistro will open Tue-Thu 4pm-midnight, Fri, Sat 11am-midnight, Sun 11am-6pm from July 2 at 81-83 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, poodlefitzroy.com.