Popular Balaclava restaurant Ilona Staller has announced it’s closing for good at the end of this year.

“As the stage light dims in the year that was 2020, so does the curtain close on Ilona Staller,” wrote the owners in an Instagram post a few days ago. “Ten years of laughs, tears, fabulous staff and loyal customers.”

“This year has bought home to us what’s important – family, friends, community, life ... and it’s time to spend more time immersed in those.”

Lisa Carrodus, Barbara Dight and chef Virginia Redmond opened the sister restaurant to St Kilda stalwart Cicciolina in 2010, and it quickly garnered a dedicated following for its sophisticated-yet-accessible menu (with reliably excellent pasta and seafood); classic cocktails; chic and fun ’60s-inspired interiors; and warm, seamless service. (On a personal note: the fries and bread were some of the best I ever ordered in Melbourne. Sometimes the most basic sides will endear a restaurant to you.)

An outpouring of tributes followed the announcement. “You were my home away from home for almost a decade,” wrote one commenter on Facebook. “All the big moments celebrated or commiserated at Ilona Staller – you will all be missed,” wrote another.

Fortunately, Cicciolina – which has lots of menu overlap (including those fries I think about approximately once a week) – isn’t going anywhere.

Ilona Staller’s last day of service is on December 23. Bookings are full, but you can email enquiries@ilonastaller.com.au to be added to the waiting list.