At The Bar with Poodle Bar and Bistro Owner Zoe Rubino

Zoe Rubino runs two of Melbourne’s best known bar and food spots, Poodle Bar and Bistro and Rocco’s Bologna Discoteca with her husband Emilio Scalzo. Next year the dynamic duo will expand their restaurant footprint in Melbourne; we can’t wait to see what that’s all about.

Away from the culinary and drink scene, Rubino is also one of the founders of skincare brand Darl – a sustainable range with two new products coming next year. Refillable compostable packaging is at the top of their shelf game in 2024.

Rubino has just returned from traveling Europe and talks to The Write Drop for our At The Bar series about her favourite wineries, a top London bar and where she stopped to wine and dine while taking trains over planes in Europe.


I’m originally from Perth, but am happy to call Melbourne my chosen home. I love living in the inner-city with my little family, weekends on foot, dotting around to the market or the park, then having an impromptu drink and pushing the pram home. Being a food lover, I love that in Melbourne, unlike in say Sydney, our international food strips are so close to the city – be it Victoria St, Richmond for Vietnamese, Chinatown or the amazing Middle Eastern food in Brunswick and Coburg. It’s all close by and easily accessible.


Vivant 2 in Paris is a favourite food memory. This restaurant was tiny yet had so much charisma. About 10 high stools ran the length of the kitchen and bar and another table of six were out the back, the speakers were blaring classic bangers, they had incredible back vintage French natural wines and the two chefs made such creative food out of the small space. The mushroom consommé́ and mussels were the stand out. We were happy, grateful even, to accept a 10.15pm booking. Only in Paris.


Above Board in Collingwood. It just reminds me so much of being in Tokyo.


2022 Bobar Cabernet Franc. It slaps every time.


Hair of the dog! This means me having afternoon pots of lager or some Tom Collins at a local pub and then an early night. If I’m rostered on to work; sour lollies and Sandstorm on the speakers during setup.


When we were in London last, a friend took us to A Bar With Shapes For a Name. It was very cool and tightly curated with amazing cocktails to back it up. I was blown away at how perfectly executed the vision was. The staff were in a foray of coloured silk linen boiler suits, the bar was an intersection of hard stainless-steel edges and classic wooden parquetry. If this bar was in Melbourne both my wallet and liver would be in trouble.


We recently stopped in Bordeaux for a few nights before we drove over the Spanish border to San Sebastian. Bordeaux is so close to Saint-Émilion, it would have been rude not to go visit the commune. We visited Château Villemaurine and were guided through the limestone quarries underneath the winery – which is where they cellar their wines and can link up with other wineries underground whilst drinking some stellar vintages. I would recommend visiting to anyone who gets the chance.


We are keen to go to Mexico City. A few years ago, when Emilio was in a band, they played a festival in Mexico after SXSW in Austin. I was unable to get the time off work and he has been trying to drag me there ever since. We’re also desperate to go back to Japan (but perhaps sans baby).


Emilio and I were excited to go to Europe again in 2023. Last year we travelled to Italy with my family for a wedding, but I was pregnant so I’m not sure it counted. It didn’t scratch the travel itch that Covid gave us, so we were gung-ho about getting back to Europe when it wasn’t peak summer – and before our daughter Gloria could walk and could still fit in the bassinet on the aeroplane. It was a tight window! We packed a lot in, perhaps a bit too much in retrospect, but I’m glad we got it all out of our system. We ate and drank our way through London, Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, San Sebastian and Barcelona and had a blast. Three tips learned:

  • Travelling with a baby is as difficult as it is rewarding.
  • Trains over planes.
  • Eat what the locals eat, drink what the locals drink.

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