After a quarter of a century as the candlelit Melbourne institution sporting starched white tablecloths and spilling over with old-school Italian charm, Café Di Stasio has expanded to include a polished, pared-back bar space adjacent to its restaurant in St Kilda.
The deep marble bar stretches from the door to the far wall. It’s expansive enough for a few plates, glasses and ice buckets to accompany you if need be. The luminous dove grey marble shines in stark contrast to the bold ox-blood red of the industrial scaffolding that hangs over the entrance to the bar, installed by leading artist Callum Morton.
The space, service and clientele are polished but still casual, while the tables that run along the glassed wall are a clean, caramel wood. Crisply white-suited wait staff remain as a charming relic from next door, gliding between tables, the bar, and the masterpiece of a coffee machine, almost as if their feet aren’t touching the floor. If you stand and lean your hip against the bar, you can sip a $1.50 espresso as though you’d travelled to Firenze.
The menu has seen a change here, too. Salty Italian aperitivi – arancini and crisp, fried batons of eggplant – can be dipped in garlicky aioli between sips of Campari with a dash of soda, a candy-striped straw speared through its centre. Caprese has been switched up a little, baked rounds of goats’ cheese replacing the usual mozzarella, and seared slices of tuna come draped across creamy white beans, with leaves of parsley left whole amongst the folds.
It’s Di Stasio alright; there’s no mistaking that. But now there’s a twinkle in its eye.
Bar Di Stasio
31 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
(03) 9525 3999