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March 21, 2024

A new era for Aces, but this time on Gouger Street

Aces on Gouger Street is now open and punters can expect fun takes on traditional dishes, a multi-level dining experience and Italian 'yum cha'.

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  • Words: Claudia Dichiera
  • Pictures: Matisse Chambers

We make our way to the corner of Gouger Street and Chinatown. Distracted by the Chinatown gateway arch on Moonta St, we look up to find bright red capital letters spelling out Aces on the corner shop.


96 Gouger Street, Adelaide 5000
Tue—Sat: 5.30pm ’til late


Culinary director of Aces, Tom Tilbury, welcomes CityMag into the multi-level Aces restaurant, which opens today.

Red carpet lines the floor as Tom guides us upstairs. We sit at the bar while Aces workers come in one by one. We see a simmering pot and steam coming from the kitchen while the Aces family practise their craft.

Tom recognises Aces history and importance to the original owners.

“This is a restaurant built on nostalgia,” Tom says.

Aces Bar and Bistro was founded by Enzo Fantasia in 1993 in the Central Market.

It was then revamped to Aces Pizza & Liquor and reopened eight weeks before COVID took its toll on the hospo industry. It operated for 18 months — only three of them without restrictions — before winning the lease on Gouger Street.

The original concept — being a daytime venue — only lasted for some time. It wasn’t long before their set 80s playlist and Good Fellas Vibe shone as a night-time trade. An Aces long-time worker says “that’s when we saw the concept come to life”.

“You had 120 people crammed into this venue in the middle of a rundown market mall, looking at a closed chemist,” they elaborate.

“Everyone was sipping on Nebbiolo [wine], drinking negroni’s, eating meatballs whilst singing Send Me An Angel and Madonna at the top of their lungs, and that’s when it clicked — this is Aces.

“Hence the urge to take this to a more suitable site on the street, with a bar, so that the night didn’t have to end.”

It’s all in the details. This picture: Claudia Dichiera.


Tonight, the business will operate under its third iteration.

“[There’s] wholesome food, classic dining touches, fun, 80s influenced,” Tom says.

“But it’s a restaurant. It has a really long bar that stretches down the side of the restaurant, open kitchen.”

Tom says that hints of the 80s are scattered throughout the restaurant’s aesthetics, designed by Frame Creative.

“The floor team have quite 80s-inspired outfits: Vans for wear, white pleated pants, tucked-in Aces t-shirts, the kitchen will wear flat-brimmed caps,” Tom says.

“A big neon sign going up the side of the building… a little set of matches come out with the bill slips… so bringing some of those old school touches back.”

The menu will follow a contemporary Italian style, with dishes “designed to share”.

“We’ve got quite a few small bites that range from house-made foccacia through to salumi and pickles, a little mortadella barn with pork crackling, sweet pickle mozzarella fritters with sour onions and white anchovy,” Tom says.

“We’ve got oysters a couple of different ways, meatballs, then a real signature of the menu is the southern rock lobster ravioli with broth and crispy chilli.”

Frame Creative have aced the design


There are six kinds of pasta dishes on the menu. Tom says its includes classics like carbonara through to a “spaghetti vongole ala Golden Century”.

“Which is a take on the Golden Century restaurant in Sydney’s noodle dish — so it’s a bit of a take on the fact that we’re in Chinatown and I wanted to touch on a little bit of Chinese,” Tom says.

“So that almost crosses the boundary between Italian and Chinese that one without you really knowing too much.”

The mains range from cotoletta with “Sunday sauce”, spatchcock cacciatore and an 800-gram Bistecca with three choices of sides.

Yum Ciao. These pictures: Claudia Dichiera.


As a homage to the Chinatown locale, the Aces team have decided to introduce their take on a traditional Chinese yum cha, but instead titled Yum Ciao. This side of the operation will be available in the weeks to come.

This was the team’s attempt to introduce a quick, different, fun and affordable approach to lunchtime dining.

“The food items are very similar [to the regular menu],” Tom says.

“But it’s also you got your tick boxes. So the guests will have an A4 landscaped menu in front of them that will have all the tick boxes down and then they select how many of each one they want.

“So very much like yum cha, and it’s got a branded pencil and everything.”

The most impactful visual asset at Aces, is the view from the balcony. Being so close to the Chinatown arches, punters can view it from a different light.

“It’s just such an iconic visual thing,” Tom says.

“Restaurants are an entire package — even what you see outside the windows makes a difference, so that’s a big focal point.

Aces is located at 96 Gouger Street, Adelaide and is open from 5:30pm until late, and will open for lunchtime service in the coming weeks. Email Aces to book.

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