A classic Euro-style deli seen through the lens of the Porteño crew, with star bartender Michael Nicolian on the tools; perch at the bar for supreme deli fare and a glass or two, or slip into the bistro and get lost in the retro charms for a little while longer.
The regular’s tip
Don’t miss the canned cocktails, maybe a mar-tini or can-hattan? You can also load up on a few tins to go.
The nuts & bolts
Function rooms: 14-25 guests
Take one look around Continental – the deli, bar and bistro hybrid founded by Porteño head honchos Joe Valore and Elvis Abrahanowicz and feted bartender Michael Nicolian – and you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in a Barcelona tapas bar or a salumeria in Bologna. This is a place that is soaked in Old World nostalgia everywhere you turn – from the retro typeface etched onto the glass frontage and the timber and terrazzo finishes to the felt letter-board menus, schoolhouse pendant lights and rows of chillies and garlic that dangle above the bar.
Down on the ground level, the vibe is oriented around drinks and snacks – think a glass of Manzanilla Sherry or a spritz made from the extensive collection of vermouth and amaro to pair with conservas from the shelves or local and imported cheese and cured meats sliced to order. Canned cocktails are a speciality, too, with punny classics (mar-tinnies, cosmopolo-tins and can-hattans) all batched and packaged on site. Upstairs, things are more restaurant-like, with a series of quaint dining rooms and a bistro menu that runs from steak tartare with potato gaufrettes to roast chicken with braised lentils and vadouvan sauce.
The wine list occupies two A5 pages and isn’t restricted to any one style. “We just want the best wines we can get and have a broad enough range to please our guests in terms of style and price,” says Nicolian. That means you’re just as likely to find a skin-contact blend of insolia and grecanico from COS in southeast Sicily as you are a bottle of Rockford Basket Press Shiraz. Interestingly, almost everything is available by the glass – ask the staff, and they’ll kindly open most of the bottles on the list, top you up and price it accordingly.
In 2018, a second spin-off opened on Philip Street in the CBD with a similar nostalgic feel and deli offering, but a more sizeable menu featuring pastas made in-house and a larger wine list packed with Australian benchmarks from the likes of Dalwhinnie and Henschke.