Hospitality powerhouses combine for Fortitude Valley newcomers La Costa Bar and Cielo Rooftop Bar
When news spread that the 11th best bar in the world was embarking on a Brisbane expansion, we had to pinch ourselves to ensure we weren’t dreaming. In a major boon for Brisbane’s nightlife, lauded Sydney bar Maybe Sammy has teamed up with the moguls behind Salt Meats Cheese and Eterna to open La Costa Bar and Cielo Rooftop Bar – two of a promised four venues that look to bring a touch of classic hospitality back to The Valley. Both venues are serving eye-catching (and tongue-tantalising) cocktails created by a crack team of world-class bartenders, a menu of eats evoking the flavours of Liguria and a setting that’ll have you thinking you’ve been transported to Italy’s picturesque coastline and riviera. Here’s what you can expect …
The friendship between Stefano di Blasi, Edoardo Perlo and Stefano Catino extends back to the heady days of 2008, when the trio – who all emigrated from Italy to Sydney together – first cut their teeth working across the city’s heaving hospitality scene. After stints working in numerous cocktail bars and high-end restaurants, the trio gradually embarked on their own individual journeys – Stefano (di Blasi) and Edoardo launched their Salt Meats Cheese empire in 2012, while Stefano (Cantino) partnered up with Vince Lombardo and Andrea Gualdi to open lauded pizza restaurant Maybe Frank in Surry Hills and Randwick. Fast-forward several years and all respective parties have risen to prominence. The Salt Meats Cheese portfolio now boasts eight venues, and the group recently opened Fortitude Valley’s Roman-inspired late-night eatery Eterna in August. Meanwhile, the Maybe Frank crew’s Las Vegas-inspired cocktail bar Maybe Sammy (which opened in 2019) was just awarded the title of The Best Bar in Australasia in the annual World’s 50 Best Bars list. Even as their careers progressed in different directions, the group’s bond has remained strong, so much so that when Accor Hotels reached out to Stefano and Edoardo with the invitation to take on the space vacated by Foresters Restaurant and Altitude Bar on Brunswick Street (next to Accor’s FV by Peppers hotel), the duo reached out to their old pal to see if the Maybe Sammy team would be interested in a northern expansion. In late November the group announced the imminent arrival of La Costa Bar and Cielo Rooftop Bar – two of a promised four locales that combine Stefano and Edoardo’s culinary expertise and operational nous with Stefano, Vince and Andrea’s world-class cocktail know-how and dapper customer-facing charm.
La Costa Bar occupies the street-facing bar space sandwiched between Foresters Hall and the lobby of FV by Peppers. With a name that translates to “the coast”, the venue takes aesthetic cues from Italy’s shoreline – think an colour palette of browns and sea greens, with a comfortable and sophisticated interior reminiscent of glamorous hotel lobby bars. The glamour extends to La Costa Bar’s service style – aproned waitstaff ferry eye-catching cocktails meticulously crafted by bartenders garbed in sky-blue blazers. Although a refined and professional experience, La Costa Bar is designed to present Maybe Sammy’s pinpoint precision in an approachable setting. The fun starts with a collection of breakfast and brunch classics along the lines of hearty Spanish eggs with chorizo and tomato ragout, yoghurt and honey panna cotta with house-made granola and halloumi, mushroom and avocado burgers. From 5:00 pm La Costa Bar starts serving a selection of tapas and small plates inspired by aperitivo culture, including crispy devilled whitebait, Blue Swimmer crab bruschetta, spicy ‘nduja risotto, and cheese and charcuterie boards. The cocktail menu – crafted and overseen by Andrea Gualdi – adds a splash of theatre to the sipping experience. The Portofino (an ambrosial mixture of vodka, fino sherry, watermelon, lemon and agave) comes topped with a bubble of scented smoke that enlivens the senses, while the Mango Coffee Margarita (Calle 23 Blanco tequila, Mr Black Coffee Liqueur, mango and lime), Señorita Sour (pisco, jalapeno, pineapple, orange, Montenegro and fino sherry) and Whiplash Negroni (Johnnie Walker Black Label, Campari, Talker 10, cacao white, vermouth rosso and bitters) are similarly sensational sips. Not in the cocktail mood? No worries – La Costa Bar is amply stocked with champagne, Italian wine varietals, local craft beers and boutique spirits.
Up on level six sits Cielo Rooftop Bar – a venue boasting a killer vantage point and a menu to match. Although thematically linked to La Costa below, Cielo possesses its own offering and aesthetic inspired by cloudless skies and the carefree vibe of the Amalfi Coast. Cushy yellow booths are offset by peach, blue and white tones as well as pops of greenery, evoking the feeling of salubrious happy hours enjoyed on the sun-soaked terraces of the Cinque Terre. Here the menu draws heavily on the sea’s bounty, with the likes of Hiramasa kingfish ceviche, octopus carpaccio, crab and mango salad, and beetroot-and-gin-cured salmon bruschetta sharing menu space with baked focaccia and prosciutto, bocconcini and honey en croûte. Cielo’s exceptional cocktail list draws influence from other coastal locales, with the St. Tropez Colada (Bacardi Carta Blanca white rum, pineapple, coconut, and Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial), Azzuro (gin, moscato grappa, citrus, Marionette blue curaçao, orgeat), Santorini (Called 23 Blanco Tequila, Aperol, mezcal, mango and lemon) and the Venice Beach (a splice of strawberry daiquiri and pina colada) sure to be coveted choices at summer’s peak. Expect the drinks menu to be updated regularly, with the Maybe Sammy team making regular trips north to train, tailor and tinker.
Both La Costa Bar and Cielo Rooftop Bar are officially open to the public. The team will follow up with La Costa Restaurant and an all-day wine bar (located in the space formerly home to The Valley Wine Bar on Alfred Street) in January.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.