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Sydney’s Original Italian Café

Scott Riley Coffee

Photo: Scott Riley

Australia is known for its obsessive coffee culture, but half a century ago, it was Bar Coluzzi (322 Victoria St., Darlinghurst, Sydney; 61-2/9380-5420; breakfast for two $15) that first weaned Sydneysiders off Nescafé. Founded by Roman immigrant (and former boxing champion) Luigi Coluzzi, this tiny café has been Darlinghurst’s de facto community center since 1957. With its retro signage and red-white-and-green façade, Coluzzi wouldn’t be out of place in an Italian train station—except here the baristas speak English in Aussie accents as twangy as didgeridoos. Ask for a flat white (like a latte with less milk). Coluzzi’s is outstanding, with espresso as powerful as Luigi’s uppercut. For breakfast: open-faced sandwiches of warm Turkish bread topped with velvety avocado, Parma ham, and juicy tomatoes. Join the regulars on the sidewalk, planted on low stools. As the morning progresses you can trace the shifting demographics of Darlinghurst, one of Sydney’s most vibrant enclaves. First come the neighborhood elders, gossiping in Greek or Italian. After seven come the brokers and suits, then the gay old-timers and aging movie stars. Late morning brings the fashion and media crowd, trailed by the young, funky, and underemployed, still bleary-eyed at noon. Sydney has dozens of first-rate cafés, but for Coluzzistas, no place else will do.

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