1889 Enoteca owes half its name to the heritage-listed Moreton Rubber building’s history, but the other half, and the source of its inspiration, is to be found in the great wine bars of the Eternal City. Owner Dan Clark has been travelling to Italy for near on 20 years: “The great enoteche of Roma are the inspiration behind 1889 Enoteca. I have been lucky enough to travel to Italy many times … and had the opportunity to go to great Roman institutions such as Enoteca Ferrara and Casa Bleve. …Their ability to showcase great Italian wines matched with wonderful Roman food is what got me hooked…”
This inspiration is keenly felt at 1889 Enoteca, with the sense of history (albeit local) radiated by the chiselled brick walls, underscoring and complementing the commitment to Italian tradition, as Clark says, “we are, hopefully, a little piece of Trastevere in Woolloongabba.” The menu follows very much a traditional path, with Roman heroes featuring, like the emblematic fried artichoke of the Jewish Quarter, carciofi alla giudia. Cacio e pepe is joined by a carbonara made with guanciale, and veal saltimbocca and a diversion from Rome with the classic Tuscan bistecca alla Fiorentina are all secondi staples.
Clark’s vast list strolls through the key Italian wine regions, with the depth of wines from any one producer the great strength, not to mention the sheer weight of sought-after bottles from the greatest of Italy’s makers, with broken verticals from the likes of Bartolo Mascarello (back to 1961), Giacomo Conterno and modern skin-contact pioneers, Radikon and Gravner, along with natural wine icons Frank Cornelissen and Salvo Foti.
Many of the listings come from Clark’s own travels, with his commitment to the wines he sells extending to importing many himself. In fact, Clark is in the wholesale business, too, with some of Italy’s finest on his vast roster of producers, which he sells nationally. Over the years, that list, as well as the list of the Enoteca have steadily leant towards makers with a natural bent, which, in Italy, means both the avant-garde and the staunchly traditional.