Swapping sugar for fat

noodlies, Sydney food blog does nostalga

By Thang Ngo

In the early nineties, Walter and I were too young, carefree and too much in love. We had no money, no assets, just a heady, intoxicating obsession with each other. We lived in a bright but tiny studio on the eighth floor in Darlinghurst and ate out every night (somethings never change). On warm summer evenings, our treat was a Bar Italia gelato fix, he always ordered something chocolate, I’d lick on my usual hazelnut gelato and sip a cafe latte.

ford falcom xf

One of our few assets was a Ford Falcon XF, a hand-me-down present from dad. For an Australian family sedan, it was feminine, squinty eyes with elegant round hub caps indents.

Looks aside, it was a beast with 4.1-litre, 120kW of raw, manly brute force.

The lack of power steering meant I had to wrestle with the beast each turn, left was almost bearable, but right turns at low speed had me grunting, teeth gritting, veins on my neck straining to breaking point as my sinewy, smooth boy arms flexed the Falcon into submission. To get from Oxford to Norton street, I said a prayer, then aimed the beast at the traffic and pedestrians, Tiananmen tank-style.

Parking was another ordeal, there was never any on Norton street, forcing me to navigate through small inner-city lanes, and eventually after much exertion, to parallel park the brute.  But the icy, sugar gelato hit followed by smooth, hot coffee were rewards which lifted our spirit, readying us for the trip home.

Today, almost two decades later, I’m in the area and decide to pop in for a trip down memory lane.

bar italia leichhardt

“no soy, light or skim milk”

At 10am, the deep, double-fronted eatery is already almost full; families sunning at the tables on the pavement, the aged, myself included, occupying the seats inside. Just about everyone is a regular and it’s first names all-round. The uber-regulars linger at the counter engaged in easy banter. Sweet. But I’m hungry and eager to order.

The retro terms are clear, it’s “cash only” and “no soy, light or skim milk”, the latter suits me perfectly, being a proud full milk man.

bar italia big breakfast

“Nothing satisfies like fat”

The breakfast menu has the usual egg and bacon, egg and ham – it’s too early and I’m too hungry to properly peruse. I order the full breakfast or whatever it’s called. How can I go wrong? It has everything. Though, in a moment of particular pickiness, I insist on white toast instead of Turkish. If I’m going to get all that fat in me, it’s only right to go down with processed, white sliced toast. It all goes down a shinny, glistening treat – the grease and fat helping the sausage, bacon and fried eggs slide down the chute. Nothing satisfies like fat. Though, perfection would have been runny yolk, these were over done.

bar italia breakfast

My flat white (yes, lattes no more for Thang) comes in a retro cup and saucer. It’s strong, grating, eye-popping stuff. I think about a second, but wisely hold back in case it makes my heart collapse.

bar italia inside

They may have renovated since the nineties, but it’s been so long I can’t really tell. Though, the cups and saucers, wooden-top tables, wicker-look chairs and retro wall menus all scream “we’re from decades earlier, man”. Service is old-style too, informal and matey-friendly. Very charming.

My breakfast won’t win awards, except from Crisco but hey, I’m full, contented and my head is spinning and heart pumping, partially from the flat white, but more from the flashback.

bar italia outside

Bar Italia
169-171 Norton St, Leichhardt
(02) 9560 9981

Bar Italia on Urbanspoon