Flocking to Lane Cove are a new crop of small cafes, restaurants and bars, with the latest bird of a feather being Little Red Robin. Tucked away in Birdwood lane the modern Italian-style wine bar and restaurant is adding a feather to its Lane Cove nest.
Opened by Alessandro Nelli and Michelle Warren, the relaxed yet polished venue is the product of five years of research, planning and labour. Finding the right spot in a hidden lane, the duo were able to realise their long held dream to give Mediterranean classics a modern take.
Joining them on this ride is Head Chef Claudio Zannotti, who has worked the pans at Michelin Star restaurants in Italy and the UK. He joins Nelli, who has had previous stints at Italian institutions in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, in developing the menu’s focus on quality ingredients presented in a way that showcases their inherent qualities. The menu opens with a selection of rock oysters and a charcuterie board of preserved meats sliced on the statement red contraption sitting behind the bar. Continuing the combination of the traditional and the modern, starters include a beef tartare with anchovies and capers as well as cumin cured tuna with cucumber gel, crispy chickpeas and quail eggs. The mains also remain on the lighter side, with kingfish with pea puree and picked baby beetroots alongside pork tenderloin with herbs and baby carrots and duck breast with roast shallots and toasted hazelnuts.
While these dishes invite a longer stay at Little Red Robin, the bar opens from 4pm on Tuesday and from Wednesday to Saturday from midday, so there’s more than enough time to come down in the afternoon for an aperitivo or sample the $39 set lunch that includes a glass of wine. Nelli grew up on a vineyard and olive grove in Tuscany, so knows the fruits of these vines well. The wine list roves around the Mediterranean basin, with bottles from France, Italy, Turkey and Spain, with many by the glass. There is a dedication to sourcing more unusual or lesser known varietals, so come with a palette ready to explore.
The interior fit out, with a long copper bar and smooth textures and colours is sophisticated yet approachable, and matches the transition from afternoon hang out to intimate late night haunt. The dishes are served on handmade stoneware that expressed the design and flavours of the restaurant.
Looking back to where it all began, Nelli sees Little Red Robin as maintaining a connection to the landscapes of his youth.
“Our fondest memories are of little red robins singing and darting among the vines in the warm Tuscan afternoon sun, when days were filled with delicious food, luscious wine and laughter.”
Flitter down to Little Red Robin, open now.
Little Red Robin
Tues, 4pm – 12am
Wed – Sat, 12pm – 12am
4/85 Longueville Rd, Entry Via Birdwood Ln, Lane Cove