We loved it as Foley Lane Spanish tapas bar and it lured us out of bed on weekends with their boozy brunch. In late August, the venue formerly known as Foley Lane has turned into Casoni Italian Bar and Eatery.
Owners Julian Marchetto and Nathan Moses have taken the elements that made Foley Lane a success and they carry well into the new incarnation. The concept is still about fun times over good food and wine, whether you pop in for a drink or two at the bar or stay for the dinner menu.
A few changes have been made to the venue but it has retained its casual and inviting vibe. The window that once overlooked the laneway is now covered by a giant blackboard of daily specials and wine list giving the space a more intimate feeling.
To the back near the kitchen, a new cheeky mural invites drinks and casual bites at the cosy corner.
Aperol Spritz & Negroni on Tap
The wine list is kept concise with a focus on Australian producers working with Italian varietals. But with Aperol Spritz and Negroni on tap, the choice of aperitif is easily sorted.
Negroni, Aperol Spritz & Mural
The Negroni is one of the best we’ve tasted, a well-balanced mix of gin, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and Campari while the Aperol Spritz garnished with an orange and Sicilian olive took us back to a small bar in Treviso on a cold night.
The food menu by head chef Lachlan Robinson (ex Pendolino and Icebergs) lists many temptations with dishes that can be shared or enjoyed individually. Pasta takes centre stage on the menu and is made fresh in-house. The Fresh Pasta of the Day changes daily with creative dishes such as a savoury chocolate pasta with rabbit. The secret weapon of Casoni’s pasta dishes, as one was soon to discover is not only in the taste but how light the pasta is and doesn’t feel heavy in the stomach.
Beef Carpaccio, Truffled Pecorino, Pickled Fennel & Celery
The Beef Carpaccio, Truffled Pecorino, Pickled Fennel & Celery ($18) makes a good starter. The beef is fresh and flavoursome with subtle flavours of pecorino and truffle.
Fresh Burrata, Beetroots, Walnuts, Mint
The Fresh Burrata, Beetroots, Walnuts, Mint ($18) is not to be missed. A great combination of flavours and textures with the sweet beetroot, the tang of the salad, the crunch of walnuts and the creamy smooth burrata that binds them together.
Pumpkin & Ricotta Ravioli, Pistachios, Burnt Butter & Sage Sauce
The Pumpkin & Ricotta Ravioli, Pistachios, Burnt Butter & Sage Sauce ($22) brings a great combination of classic flavours. The ravioli is light, soaking all the delicious the burnt butter and the addition of chopped pistachios and dried pumpkin skins gives a lovely texture. The dish is more suited to an entree size if you’re into sharing.
Squid Ink Tagliolini, Pippies, Mussels & Shaved Bottarga
Thin al dente pasta strips of Squid Ink Tagliolini, Pippies, Mussels & Shaved Bottarga ($26) brings delicious salty flavours of the sea with a good measure of garlic and heat from the chilli – a dish one would happily order again and not share with the other half.
Ricotta Gnocchi, Prawns, Cherry Tomato Broth & Basil
It would be remiss not to order the Ricotta Gnocchi, Prawns, Cherry Tomato Broth & Basil ($25), soft and pillowy in a cherry tomato broth you can eat with a spoon topped with crispy basil.
The Cheesecake Lasagna ($16) makes a rich, sweet and decadent end to the meal. The dessert is layered with chocolate pasta sheets, cheesecake and white chocolate, surrounded by a raspberry sauce and sprinkled with shavings of white chocolate. Measuring a good 14 cm long – or the length of an iPhone 6 – it is best shared among two persons though we have been told that some individuals have been known to finish one on their own.
Much like its predecessor, Casoni Italian Bar & Eatery brings good times, great flavours and value for money to a relaxed and friendly venue. The pasta of the day is designed to bring you back to try something new and creative, or you can revisit favourite dishes. The vibe is no different to Foley Lane and you can still drop in for a drink, catch up with friends over a jug of Aperol Spritz, a Negroni or sip on an after dinner Amaro.
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Casoni Italian Bar & Eatery
371-373 Bourke St, Darlinghurst
Hours: Monday – Tuesday CLOSED; Wednesday to Sunday from 5:00pm
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