One level above The Imperial in Erskineville’s public bar and vegetarian-friendly restaurant Priscillas is Imperial Up, a quirky rooftop courtyard and cocktail bar serving Italian food. The colourful space had been closed for almost three decades before reopening in 2018.
Before you get to the courtyard you have to walk through a retro-styled dining room, which calls to mind New York’s infamous Studio 54. It’s decorated with pop-art graphics, pastel-coloured fringed umbrellas that tower above orange leather stools, as well as striped walls, quasi-classical sculptures, a pizza oven decorated in gold mirror and a mosaic-lined bar top. It’s fun and most definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Chef Dave Clarke (ex Jamie’s Italian, Chophouse and Quay chef) and his team are serving stuzzichino (finger food), pasta and pizzas, including a margherita with San Marzano tomatoes and fior di latte and a “NY Peperoni” with cheddar.
The “pronto” section of the menu features gamberi fritti (fried school prawns with saffron aioli); bruschetta with buffalo mozzarella; salumi with mortadella and Lombardi pickled chillies; and a prawn Caesar salad with pickled onion, radish and parmesan-ranch dressing. For dessert there’s a lemon meringue pie with pistachio praline and Italian meringue.