The 'burbs get a chance to double buzz with booze and bocce
Pallino’s premise is simple: bar and bocce. It's built in a 1950s espresso bar for locals, by a local. It doesn’t aim to be ground breaking, but it certainly has provided great, new ground for the stomping.
Louise Zelencich’s aim as an owner is to present something for her neighbours, being a Thornbury local herself. Her attitude is open, welcoming and reassuring, responding to each drink order with, “Do you live around here?” It’s clear she is filling a gap in the market, as most answers are "yes", with a table of suits in the front hanging around from lunch threatening to come back soon. Yes, it’s that kind of a place.
The drinks on offer aren’t extensive, but they’re crowd-pleasing. Most of the booze is Australian if you don’t count the spirits shelf, but the familiar beers of Mountain Goat, 4 Pines, Little Creatures, Stone and Wood and White Rabbit are great alternative to Coopers. The wine list is short and inoffensive, but the real focus of Pallino is their cocktails. Pallino have proudly listed classics like Manhattans, Negronis, and Martinis (anyway you like them!) next to their own Pallino of Galliano vanilla, cloudy apple and lime. Our only issue is the way they’ve made their Manhattan; built in a coupe with ice when it should be stirred down and served up.
Pallino knows where it shines, so it doesn’t bog itself down with food offerings. Boards of salumi featuring prosciutto, mild salami and perfectly spiced porchetta, paninis, cheese plates and olives are as far as they’ll go. If you’re feeling like something more substantial, Pallino will ring in orders from the Moor’s Head next door to be delivered straight to your table. Smart.
As for the bocce, it’s a weekend thing as their courtyard is deservedly full in the evenings. If Pallino’s aim is to get you buzzed, they have certainly achieved that with their bar and bocce, but where do the espressos come in? A glance up at the bar would answer that for you: espresso Martinis. Rack 'em up – that’s a double buzz.