The Waiters Restaurant
It started life in 1940s as a place for immigrants in the hospitality industry to come and play cards over a glass of wine. Over 60 years later, with a shift of name and the addition of a kitchen in the 1950s, it is truly a city icon; a forerunner to the hidden joints that are now the gems of Melbourne’s dining scene.
Up a hidden flight of rickety stairs, The Waiters Restaurant (often called the Waiters Club) is a tiny box of a room with mock-wood panels and wood-laminate tables. Sure it’s less than glamorous, but large windows and glass louvers reflecting unsuspecting passers-by below make this a tear-in-the-fabric-of-time worth ferreting out.
Owned and run by the Sabbadini family since the late seventies, today Dennis Sabbadini can be found running the floor, while chef Mario Vidic rattles the pans – both calling cheery welcomes as people stumble through the door.
With something of a men’s club feel, business groups gather for uncomplicated pasta and simple Italian desserts. Ricotta ravioli swims in a pool of perfectly oily, rich tomato sauce, next to a tumbler of rough and ready house red. It’s all about big serves and hearty, tried-and-true flavours. There certainly isn’t anything fancy here, but it’s an unpretentious legend, and that’s the reason you climb those rickety staircase in the first-place.