Where: 6 Belgrave Street, Manly 2095
Opening Hours: Mon - Fri 6am - 4pm, Sat 7am - 3pm, Sun 7am - 1pm
Phone: 02 9976 6548
The Cartel is bringing a slice of Melbourne and more than a hint of Italy to Manly's streets. This shopfront-turned-cafe is the passion project of two Italian brothers, Nick and Jo, who were born and raised in Manly. You'll find them here every morning, serving up home-style favourites alongside Jo's own coffee blend, Escobar, or at the local pub later in the afternoon. Taking the opportunity of a downtrodden strip, these lads have moved in and set up a hipster haven with odds and ends of retro furniture, display shelves filled with stuffed toys and figurines, bright, bold artworks and a fixie, which hangs along one wall.
But there's more to this place than just the two of them. Their mum, Rita, is cooking out back and her Baked Bacon and Egg ($12) comes highly recommended. In fact, there's few dishes that don't have a name to them: Drew's Mushies ($12) is a plate of pan-roasted mushrooms with herbs and marinated feta, served up on toast, while Scott's 'Pesto In It' Jaffle ($6) is described as 'like Joe's Goey Egg but with pesto in it'.
It's easy to feel at home fast, and we can see why almost everyone in here is on a first-name basis. Belgrave Cartel is clearly the haunt of regular locals. Nick tells us about his favourite trio, who apparently have nicknamed this place 'the anti-taste cafe'. With it's jumbled furniture and lounge room feel, it's a far cry from the shiny cafes that line The Corso.
That's not to say, however, that the food isn't tasty. The Jaffles ($5-8) are the signature dish, available all week. We'd recommend the Benno ($8), AKA Eggs Benedict in jaffle form, or the Green Eggs and Ham ($8), eggs and toasted leg ham topped with Rita's homemade pesto. While the coffee should be your top priority, there's also a good range of teas, served up in Japanese tea pots.
On weekends, the full breakfast menu is available, including Rita's aforementioned Baked Eggs with a twist of bacon, served up on Sonoma toast. Next time around, we vow to try the Brekkie Bruschetta ($13), with pan-roasted cherry tomatoes, rocket, ricotta and parmesan on toast, and the Corn Fritter Stack ($13), with avocado salsa and feta. If you're after something simpler, take your pick from the Seinfeld Selection ($4.50): Coco Pops, Nutri-Grain or Corn Flakes.
We have our fingers crossed that their pending DA pulls off, which will mean more space and the full menu every day of the week. Everyone deserves a piece of the Cartel action.
Green Eggs and Ham Jaffle, Flat White
Good For Groups: