On the corner of The Corso, a pedestrian thoroughfare lined with surf shops, bars, and ice-creameries in Sydney’s Manly, is Bacino Bar. The little hole-in-the-wall café or “little Italy,” as its owners Marcelo Vieira and Lido Russo call it, is a popular drop in for both beach-dwellers and those on their way to work.
“The café is located on Manly corso between the wharf and the ocean. Many of our customers come by to sit and watch the passing parade of tourists as they sip on a wonderful coffee,”says Marcelo.
Opened in August 2000, Marcelo says the café’s Italian feel is a reflection of Lido and his brother’s heritage. However, its enviable position in the trendy Sydney suburb gives it a distinctly Manly feel. “Most of our customers are locals that come back twice, maybe three times a day,” says Marcelo. “They live down here on the beach and that kind of lifestyle means we get lots of laid-back, easy-going coffee lovers stopping in throughout the day.”
Marcelo says that the café has a reputation for having a good atmosphere and good service, but what sets it apart is its coffee.
Part of a network of seven Bacino cafés, Bacino Bar in Manly serves the company’s own Little Italy coffee. The seven cafés, which are located in various spots across New South Wales, each use the house blend for their espresso based drinks – which the public can take home for themselves as whole beans, ground beans, and in a decaf variety.
The Manly café serves up its namesake coffee on a Sanremo Verona TCS four-group machine, which is designed to produce high quantities of coffee – something Marcelo says Bacino Bar does almost every day.
“We’ve closed the doors two days of every year since we opened in 2000. During that time the coffee community has grown considerably down here, and also undergone a number of changes,” says Marcelo.
Marcelo says Bacino Bar is currently experiencing a similar trend to that increasingly reported by Australian cafés, which is the changing milk preference of its customers.
“Over the past five years especially we’ve seen a lot more demand for alternatives to dairy milk, and soy consumption in particular has gone up considerably,” he says. “Whereas a few years ago we might have gone through one litre of soy a day, these days we are going through up to 10 litres.”
Bacino Manly has been using Vitasoy for a number of years now, which Marcelo describes as a consistent performer in the coffee making process.
“Because we want to maintain the reputation we have for exceptional coffee, we need milk that will produce the same result each time,” he says. “With Vitasoy we find that’s what we get, which keeps both the baristas and our customers happy.”
In the business of satisfying customers, Marcelo says Bacino Bar has one breakfast dish on the menu that they’ve agreed to continue serving all day, despite the fact that the rest of the breakfast options finish at lunch.
“Our Italian scrambled eggs are definitely a standout favourite dish for almost everyone who has had the chance to sample our menu,” he says. “We’ve been serving them up for the breakfast crowd since we opened the doors, but as was the request of many Bacino Bar regulars, we’re now cooking scrambled eggs in the afternoons too.”
The Italian scrambled eggs are cooked with tomato, pancetta, parmigiano cheese, and fresh basil. It is served on a slice of fresh ciabatta loaf with Bacino Bar’s special hollandaise sauce.
As the weather warms up and Sydney beaches see an influx of visitors flock to its shores, Marcelo says he expects to be dishing out even more eggs and coffee to the holiday crowd.
“I look forward to our busiest months as it just means more people to talk to,” he says. “So many of us these days spend more time at work than at home. Fortunately at this café the customers and staff have become our own big family. I don’t call this a job – this is the place I go to socialise.”