Some places like to keep it simple: breakfast all day, full-cream milk in your coffee and reliable pasta with Napoli sauce – as uncomplicated as it should be.
There’s a long tradition of comforting Italian food in Melbourne, probably because when we find an institution like Mario’s we throw all our support behind it. And so it has been for more than 20 years at this Fitzroy cafe.
Settling in for a meal at an intimate table for two, or perched sipping coffee at the window bar is an essential Melbourne experience. Plus there’s a great view of the bustle of Fitzroy through the window.
The walls are lined with posters and there’s a dent here and there, but you don’t come here for the decor. You come for the character, the notoriously relaxed waistcoated service and the guarantee that the food will be as classic and unpretentious as the last time you visited.
Mario’s neon-red sign beckons you in day or night seven days a week, while retro fittings and jam served in coffee cups keep the mood low-key.