Food & Dining

Business Marketing


A creative take on traditional Japanese cuisine

Japanese Izakaya, Itō, emerges on Crown Street; a new restaurant from ESCA Group, where tradition inspires creativity. Offering a dining space for 85 guests, and 25 alfresco seats in the heart of Surry Hills, this cutting-edge Izakaya is breathing new life into the space that was the much-loved Cuckoo Callay.

Itō Head Chef, Erik Ortolani reimagines a Japanese Izakaya with unique dishes such as yellowfin tuna, served on bonito bread with shaved bottarga or Wagyu mafaldine paired with white shimeji and miso. Sharing a meal at Itō should spark conversation and laughter and the desire to come back for more.

“I’ve always been passionate about Japanese food, it wasn’t until I moved to Australia that I started to explore the art of Japanese flavours and techniques (prior to ESCA Group, he ran the kitchen at Cho Cho San as a head chef for 5 years and Nobu). Whilst my heritage is Italian, my passion is Japanese cooking. It feels natural to me to use a combination of the two as a vehicle for creating a really unique menu that is still very signature Japanese, and that’s exactly what we’ve done with Itō. Fresh seasonal produce, smart cooking, bright flavours.” Head Chef at Itō, Erik Ortolani.

In Kanji, izakaya directly translates to ‘stay-drink-place’ and that is the vibe emanating from Itō. Peppered across Japan, these informal after-work bars provide a haven for the social and the hungry. Itō aims to emulate this tradition, as a place to sip sake and snack on delicious kingfish while overlooking Sydney’s Crown Street. Equal parts comfortable and classy, Itō is an experience, rather than a restaurant.

“For Itō’s drinks menu, we wanted to compliment the food’s unique personality and the timelessness of the venue design. We have curated a cocktail list of Japanese inspired classic cocktails, a quirky selection of wines from Japan and Italy as well as some Aussie classics, and an extensive selection of sake. There’s something for everyone, from the discerning drinker looking to explore or for the local casual sipper” Group Bar Manager at ESCA Group, Mark Anderson

“We’re so excited to bring the community on itō’s journey, to be an extension of the neighbourhood’s desire to reconnect and socialise, with delicious and exciting food at the centre of every occasion. We’ve been a part of the loving Surry Hills dining scene for close to a decade now, and for me, that felt like the perfect time to reinvigorate this iconic Surry Hills corner.” Co-Founder and Executive Director at ESCA Group, Ibrahim Moubadder.

As for the venue itself, a key driver behind the architectural facelift was ensuring flexibility and engagement between inside and out, and the two internal levels themselves. Brought to life by distinguished Australian architect, Matt Darwon, the Itō personality is expressed via a combination of clean lines, bespoke Tasmanian blackwood furniture, leather furnishings, Japan-black stained floorboards, and pops of bold colour, to modernise the overall aesthetic.

Experience Itō, Surry Hill’s new Japanese Izakaya courtesy of ESCA Group, when it opens its doors on October 11. Head to to learn more and make a reservation.


413-415 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, 2010

Trading Hours


Wednesday - Sunday

12pm until 2.30pm (last booking)


Sunday - Thursday

5:30pm until 9:00pm (last booking)

Friday - Saturday

5:30pm until 9:30pm (last booking)