Di Stasio Pizzeria
Di Stasio Pizzeria is the third Melbourne venue for Rinaldo “Ronnie” Di Stasio and Mallory Wall, the prolific behind Cafe Di Stasio in St Kilda and the inimitable Di Stasio Citta. And it’s the first time in their decades-long history that they’re serving pizza.
The restaurant is split into three different spaces: the front Bar Sport; the Ladies’ Lounge; and the Caravaggio Room, named after the Italian painter who was active in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. As with Citta, the venue seamlessly blurs the line between restaurant and art gallery, courtesy of Di Ritter from Hassell Architects. Shaun Gladwell sculptures are a statement on liberty, while three large-scale artworks by Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay/Gummaroi artist Reko Rennie cascade colour into the rooms.
Il cortile (the courtyard), meanwhile, could be an entirely different restaurant – or country. Tables for two line the narrow laneway between the restaurant and the neighbouring Grown Alchemist store. Down a gravel path, the sound of water trickling into the 17th-century Italian stone fountain grows louder. Dozens of plants in ornate pots and urns come into view, and a dedicated green-painted bar completes the picture.
There are up to nine pizzas on the tick-box menu, from a classic margherita to another with lobster, lard, fior di latte and herbs. Extra basil is supplied on ice, as are olives when you order a Martini. Chef Federico Congiu makes the fior di latte using St David Dairy jersey milk from Gippsland, San Marzano tomatoes are grown at the owners’ Yarra Valley property and a custom flour blend is milled especially for the pizzeria in Tamworth.
Primi come small or large and include plates like fish carpaccio with whey dressing saved from the cheese-making process; secondi might be a Milan-style Berkshire pork cutlet. There are also a few pastas and snacks such as trippa fritta (salty, deep-fried tripe batons served with lemon). And if you only have room for one dessert, make it the fior di latte soft serve; it’s salted, drizzled with Mount Zero olive oil and has textural bursts underneath from olive-oil cake cooked both regularly and in crouton form.