When Eater first broke the news about the country’s oldest Italian restaurant, Ralph’s, opening a new concept in the old Wishing Well space across the street, co-owner Ryan Rubino was optimistic it would open within four months, by April 2016. But that was before he knew about the sagging floor and the numerous other structural issues he needed to address before opening Bar One at the 767 South 9th Street.
Now, ten months later, the bar is ready for its close-up: Friday, October 21, go for happy hour with free food and live music. On October 22, go for a free limited-menu brunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. That night, the bar will officially open for good, and regular hours will begin. The kitchen open till 12 a.m. nightly, and the bar pours till 2 a.m. every day except Sunday.
Inside, check out the gallery walls — Rubino appointed one of his employees, Jackie Jensen, to decorate the space with her artwork, like colorful profiles of liquor bottles, and hipster-ized caricatures of the Rat Pack. Add some iconic album art on the back wall, plus 100-year-old exposed brick along the bar, and you’ll forget all about Wishing Well’s beige drywall which once muffled the real charm of the space.
And to be clear, this is no extension of Ralph’s. "You’re not going to have to choose between Ralph’s and Bar One," said Rubino. "This is its own thing."
The menu (below) is just regular bar food, but through an Italian lens, so the mussels might come out scampi-style (there’s a cheesesteak rendition, too, which Rubino is especially excited about), and the deviled eggs will incorporate pesto, and "buffalo chicken" comes in many forms: tossed into house-made paccheri, stuffed into a spring roll, or spread atop a crostini.
The drink list doesn’t take itself too seriously. Bar One’s Old Fashioned is rather unorthodox, but nifty. The classic drink’s components get muddled into a frozen ice cube, then two ounces of Wigle whiskey gets poured overtop. Wait a minute — til the glass is cold — and the cube melts into a cocktail. Look out for the Flinstones Push-Pop drink and banana and brown sugar-infused Jameson, simply over rocks.