Back in the early 1990s, 308 Greenhill Road was a butcher’s shop when Nunzio Bonifazio purchased the business and turned it into a popular suburban pizzeria called Santa Fe Café.
After a few years he sold the business and it was re-branded as Nonna’s Cafe, which continued to sling pizzas right up until earlier this year when Nunzio and his son Dion Bonifazio noticed the business was for sale, with the interior having fallen into a neglected state.
With a third business partner, Lewis Goodridge, they purchased the neglected shop and jumped at an opportunity to bring it back to life, this time as Bar 38.
“It’s a new generation now, so I’m looking forward to watching them develop it,” says Nunzio.
The trio gutted the shop and Nunzio, a tradesperson, completed much of the fit-out by hand, including the bar, booth seating and new windows. Lewis brought his experience from running a suburban breakfast bar, while Dion, who runs retail store Hussla, has also worked in pizza restaurants.
Chef Richard Miller, formerly of East Terrace Continental, was brought on board to take charge of the pizza oven – a glamorous Mesiano wood oven covered in a mosaic of Italian tiles that makes it look like a disco ball. The tiles alone are worth several thousand dollars.
“It holds the heat amazingly well and doesn’t heat up the rest of the shop,” Lewis says.
The oven was made in Melbourne and transported to Adelaide, where a wall of the shop was ripped down so a forklift could bring it inside.
Renovations had only just started when Coronavirus hit.
“It was a bit scary, to begin with,” Lewis says. “We had put all this time and money into the place, and we were pushing to get the renovations done.
“When the virus happened, we slowed down and put more time into it, and it turned out to be a good thing.”
They had intended to only serve pizza, but after introducing takeaway pasta during COVID-19 restrictions and receiving good feedback, they decided to keep it on the menu.
“Coronavirus was kind of a blessing in disguise, but we’re happy it hasn’t lasted for too long. Everyone has done the right thing with social distancing and isolation.”
Pizza offerings include classics such as margarita, tre formaggi (three cheese) and carne (meat), with all the pasta dishes you’d expect from a good Italian restaurant.
Long-time residents still walk past the store and say they remember the original pizza bar, Santa Fe Café. But today, it looks very different.
Bar 38 is designed as a smart but warm suburban pizza bar that brings the atmosphere of a classy inner-city night spot to the suburbs. There are plans are in the pipeline for a small beer garden out the back.
The cocktail bar allows guests to sit and enjoy drinks and/or meals, with the adjacent wall of exposed brick lined with booth seating.
Lewis says the trio did their research of businesses in the area and believe there is plenty of opportunity for Italian-style food to thrive.
“Some people don’t like going to pubs or all the way to the city; they want something a bit more intimate,” he says. “Our whole idea was to bring that to the suburbs. We also want it to feel homely and welcoming.”
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