Say benvenuto to New Farm’s new Italian-inspired wine bar Ombra
While it’s damn near impossible to pinpoint our favourite aspect of Italian cuisine, the country’s love of aperitivo – that is, a pre-meal drink or snack – is definitely a cultural ritual we’d happily adopt. Italian ex-pats Ali and Eli believe Brisbane could use a firm nudge when it comes to fostering a greater appreciation for aperitivo, which is why the two pals and hospitality veterans have teamed up on Ombra Italian Bar, which opened in New Farm this week. The relaxed snack spot is dishing up appetite-whetting morsels and a broad range of Italian wines from its cosy home on Brunswick Street – read on to learn more about what’s on offer!
While anyone with quick access to Google Translate can tell you that the Italian word ‘ombra’ directly translates to ‘shadow’, if you dig a bit deeper you’ll learn of the word’s double meaning. In dialects common around Venice and Veneto, ombra also refers to a drink, more specifically, a beverage (usually wine) shared with friends at local bacaros (a Venetian tavern or restaurant), often accompanied by some cicchetti (small side dishes or snacks). It’s said that this usage of the word can be traced back to a time when wine merchants at Piazza San Marco would move their stalls to stay in the shade of the buildings and out of the heat. Today, New Farm locals can catch some shade at Ombra Italian Bar, a cool new wine bar and eatery situated on Brunswick Street in the old Yuzu & Co space – right near neighbouring local institutions like Taj Mahal, Gertie’s, Mekhong and Hellbound. Owned and operated by Ali Tani and Elisabetta Michielon, this laid-back and cosy meeting spot adds another handy destination for a quick lunch, post-work wine or pre-dinner snack – somewhere that is welcoming and familiar like a second home. Ali and Eli have given the venue a cosmetic refresh, exchanging a previous dark palette for an elegant lighter tone, while also making the most of the available space with a furniture shake-up. Vintage posters from the 50s and 60s advertising classic Italian aperitifs such as Campari, Cinzano and Cynar adorn the walls, while extra greenery will soon sit amongst the wine bottles on the shelves, giving the room more life.
Ombra’s down-to-earth aesthetic is matched by a two-part menu that spotlights some quintessentially Italian eats – think tapas-style bites and slightly heartier portions. Ombra’s ever-changing selection (which is vegetarian and vegan friendly) perfectly encapsulates the Italian proverb ‘l’appetito vien mangiando‘, or ‘appetite comes with eating’. Here the fare serves to open the stomach and whet appetites – Ombra’s olive ascolana (green olives stuffed with meat), crostino burro and acciuga (Cantabrian anchovies on bread), crochette al baccalà (codfish croquettes), truffle arancini, and salumi and cheese boards absolutely do the trick. If you’re not content with merely snacking, a selection of mini-mains like caprese salad, bolognese lasagna, porchetta with roast potatoes and sweet onions, ricotta and spinach ravioli, and pasta or gnocchi with your choice of sauce (bolognese, pesto, meatballs and gorgonzola and mushroom) are more likely to hit the mark. Ali and Eli have curated a punchy wine list that manages to traverse nearly all of Italy, with vino from the majority of the country’s regions showcased alongside a small selection of Australian drops. The offering, which is expected to grow substantially in the coming months, currently includes orange albana from Emilia-Romagna, vermentino from Sardinia, Tuscan chianti, Ligurian pigato, schiava lagrein from Trentino-Alto Adige and pinot noir from the Yarra Valley (high-end barolos and brunellos will soon be available via Coravin). Classic cocktails include Aperol spritz, Americano and negroni, while Ali and Eli are keen to experiment with its evolving range of signatures. Those that like a pared-back sip are encouraged to try some flavourful and herbaceous classic and red vermouths from Del Professore, best enjoyed on ice.
Ombra Italian Bar is now open to the public. For operating hours and contact details, head to the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.