The Stanley Street strip has welcomed another addition with the opening of the mafia-themed Johnny Fontane’s, a cigar, cocktail, and Chicago Deep Dish bar.
The Venue: Johnny Fontane’s World
Located next to Stanley’s and The Long Goodbye, Johnny Fontane’s is named after the fictional swing singer, film actor and godson of mob boss Vito Corleone from The Godfather. The venue is spread over four distinct spaces , each telling a story and carrying the theme. The bar is modelled after the Rat Pack, the golden age of swing, the kind of bar that’s frequented before a Sammy Davis Jr show.
The bar space leads to a Sicilian-style courtyard with a large central citrus tree and lush vines that are sourced from the film set of The Great Gatsby.
Up the stairs, it’s gangster territory with the Chairmen Board, with photographs of every chairman of the Mafia on the wall. The dining room on the first floor is a “gangster lounge” for drinking and dining, a space where characters from The Godfather might dine along a communal table, silver candelabras and fireplaces.
Up a few steps and it’s and the outdoor cigar deck with its retro-resort Cuban feel, modelled after pre-Revolution Cuba, when in 1947, the Mafia held a conference in Havana. This is a relaxed spot where guests can purchase and smoke Cuban cigars while enjoying a cocktail.
The food menu was designed by chef Cy Gwynne (ex-Longrain) and features the Chicago deep dish as well as smaller bites such as arancini, bruschetta and a vegetarian pasta.
The Antipasti Board ($18) is a generous and well-priced serve best shared among four persons. You’ll find Bufaletta cheese, Pecorino, Gorgonzola, salami and prosciutto, green and black olives, cornichons, semi-dried tomatoes, grilled zucchini and peppers, along with grissini and olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Chicago Deep Dish
The speciality at Johnny Fontane’s is the Chicago Deep Dish ($28 each), a cross between a pizza and a pie cooked in a deep dish pan. Johnny Fontane’s is the first venue in Sydney to offer what is is calling a Sydney take on the Chicago specialty.
Show above is The Capone – the original Chicago deep dish – where the dough base is layered with mozzarella cheese first, then pork and veal meatballs, topped with marinara sauce and garnished with rocket leaves. Other varieties such as The Gambino vegetarian option, The Luciano with minced beef and The Luccheese with chicken, get a double layer of cheese, one at the bottom and one on top.
The Capone tastes as good as it looks and is much more filling for two persons than a pizza of the same size. Add a couple of glasses of wine, and you’re set for a tasty, delicious meal with friends.
If you’re after dessert or a little palate cleanser, the Gelati ($4) is a a refreshing lemon sorbet to cap off the night.
Created by The Bear Bar’s Andy Curtis, the drinks menu has a focus on signature cocktails based on Italian liquors, modern twists on classics, and wines and craft beers from Italy and the US.
The cocktail list is rather comprehensive compared to the food menu, offering a lot of choice and erring mostly towards the sweeter side of the flavour spectrum. The selection of Johnny Fontane Originals offers a choice of 10 cocktails with themed named such as High Society and Vito’s Colada and Blood Bath, the latter a take on the Bloody Mary, as well as two cocktails suitable for after dinner or to enjoy with a cigar. There’s a choice of four Negronis with various spirits, three Sours made with either whisky, Amaretto or Aperol, various Martinis, and Rum, Bourbon and Rye Old Fashioneds with a choice of 12 spirits so let your mood guide you.
The Fat Tony
Settle back with The Fat Tony ($18), a Negroni made with Grappa that’s befits the theme of the venue. It’s bold and brash and the kind of drink you want to sip at a leisurely pace then immediately order another. If you like grappa, this Negroni packs a delicious punch.
Ritterhouse Old Fashioned
Alternatively, a Ritterhouse Old Fashioned ($20) is just the drink as you study the mug shots of the mafia bosses on the Chairman Board.
Moving on to the after dinner cocktails, the Double Down ($20) is a punchier riff on the Daiquiri with a smoky element. Appleton 12 yo rum is stirred down with fresh limes, brown sugar, rhubarb bitters, a dash of apricot nectar and finished with a Laphroaig 10 yo float.
The Black Hand
If you’re after a well-balanced dessert style cocktail or something to complement your cigar, The Black Hand ($19) combines Kraken dark spiced rum with Pedro Ximénez nectar, red vermouth, Cherry Heering and a dash of black walnut and barrel aged orange bitters. Stirred and poured over ice with an orange and date twist, it’s rich, luxurious on the palate and settles down nicely on the palate once a little dilution takes place.
There’s so much to like Johnny Fontane’s. From the fitout that tells a story as you move through various sections of the venue, to the chilled and relaxed vibe in the “gangster dining room” and the Jazz and big Band Vegas music in the background, the welcoming venue is well suited to small and larger groups catching up and enjoying Sydney’s first offering of the Chicago Deep Dish.
77 Stanley St, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday 4pm – 12am; Friday – Saturday 12pm – 12am (closed Sundays)
Non watermarked photo are supplied and used with permission. Other photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.
Originally published 4 March 2017. Updated 13 April 2017.
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