This long-time Melbourne favourite has developed quite a history and become almost a pilgrimage for lovers of fine Italian food in Melbourne.

Di Stasio shares its name with owner Rinaldo (Ronnie) Di Stasio – along with its front door handles (the bronze hands reach out onto busy Fitzroy Street and are reportedly casts of the proprietor's own). The artistic flair doesn’t end there: distressed neutral walls, with a bright splash of cobalt blue, hold dramatic masks that peer down on you as you dine. It’s simple and intimate, but somehow the space has a theatrical air, as though it’s about to burst into an operatic aria. And, if you believe the stories, anything could happen if the proprietor is in the house.

The menu is thoroughly Italian, with suckling pig, whole roast duck and veal saltimbocca. But those in the know come for the seasonal set-lunch of two courses and wine. We love it because it’s great value without diminishing the classic Di Stasio experience. With the addition of Bar Di Stasio next door, you can either turn up early for a quick drink before your booking, or adjourn next door for an extra digestive afterwards.

Staff are discreet and attentive, patrolling the cosy space with attention to detail – and it all feels a little bit rarefied.