Bourke & Ward

Natasha Ciesielski
5th May 2024

Within the hustle of Sydney CBD is a cosmopolitan Southern Italian dining experience.

Bourke & Ward is the latest restaurant from Avenue Group who have been catering for Sydneysiders for over 20 years. With a portfolio of successful venues including the popular Avenue on Chifley and Alleyway, the family business is the passion project of the Barbaro family, and in particular brothers Stephen, Phillip and Anthony.

“This venue has an extra special place in our hearts because it’s inspired by our grandparents, and especially our Nonna. They were from the South of Italy and we were raised on local dishes and the belief that eating is a shared experience,” explains Anthony Barbaro, Founder and Managing Director of Bourke & Ward.

Bringing a modern twist to the unique tastes of Southern Italy is the focus of Bourke & Ward’s menu. Leading the charge is Head Chef Timothy Bertin, who trained under Philippe Bohrer Rouffac, at two Michelin star restaurant Bohrer in France. 13 years later, Bertin relocated to Australia  and was Sous Chef at Baia The Italian (in Darling Harbour) before joining Bourke & Ward.

The restaurant name originates from Bourke Ward, an old Circular Quay electorate. Located in the Salesforce building, the venue attracts working professionals from 7am with its extensive breakfast menu and fresh patisseries made in-house.

Traditional breakfast dishes: bacon and egg roll (deluxe Italian style), granola bowl and eggs benedict, are all on the menu or you can order something more substantial such as the chilli eggs - scrambled eggs with calabrese pepper smoked capsicum topped with grated aged ricotta, sweet peppers and fried Tuscan kale served with a side of housemade pane di casa.

The lunch/dinner menu offers antipasti to seafood, house-made pasta and decadent desserts, complemented by a curated selection of wines and Italian-inspired drinks and cocktails. All the dishes are made to share, as founder Anthony explains, the team believe sharing food encourages people to enjoy each other’s company.

To start we ordered the crispy polenta a la calabrese and burrata. The grilled polenta with Calabrian chili paste, stracciatella and honey comb is a delicious mix of flavours and textures. And the burrata with heirloom tomatoes was a taste explosion. A clever combination of raw and cooked tomatoes that were perfectly balanced and paired well with the covolo nero pesto.


Unique to Bourke & Ward is the traditional pinsa. A style of pizza that is popular with locals in Italy, but a first in the Sydney dining scene. Pinsa is oval shaped and a lighter, crunchier alternative to the classic pizza. The cloud-like pizza has crispy textures on the outside and is soft and scrumptious inside. There’s a lot of love that goes into a pinsa; it’s made with six types of high protein flour and the dough rests for 72 hours. The light, airy crusts and bubbly pinsa Romana base contribute to a very tasty pizza. We selected the cotto and were not disappointed. If you look forward to Christmas ham or just generally are a ham fan, this is the pizza for you. Parma ham, porcini mushroom, leeks and dehydrated kalamata olives, topped with milky, delicate cheeses including fior di latte (fresh cow's milk mozzarella) and Northern Italian grana padano.  

Aiming for the nostalgia of home cooking, all the pasta is home-made. I highly recommend the conchiglie pasta alla gricia with fennel pork sausage, maple guanciale (pork cheek), broccolini and pecorino romano. The cheesy sauce and black peppery bite oozes with flavor with every bite.

We weren’t able to fit in dolce (dessert) but our helpful waitress added the matcha tiramisu to our take home bag that already contained our leftover pizza. 

Perfect for after work drinks, Bourke & Ward serve creative fun cocktails like the Dragonfly Margarita, a concoction of dragon fruit infused tequila, agave and black lava salt. If cocktails aren’t your thing, Bourke & Ward host a great collection of Australian-produced Italian wine varietals. My only quib would be there weren’t more Italian wines to choose from. Although Anthony advises they are in the process of sourcing and selecting Italian wines.

With its art deco styling, Bourke & Ward looks like a New York restaurant. The 70-seater offers table and high table seating. Walk-ins are welcome but bookings are recommended. 

Bourke & Ward caters to all occasions, from casual coffee meetings to intimate dinners and lively evening drinks. It’s an evolution of what Sydneysiders want when they work, live or come into the city. It suits a range of needs with the high-quality food, drinks and atmosphere that people expect from great dining.

With great venues like this in the city, maybe workers will actually want to return to the office!