South Yarra isn’t lacking in the Italian-restaurant department, but none are quite like Stella. It’s huge – stretching across four custom-built levels behind an 1800s facade.
As you enter, you’ll be met by a long, narrow trattoria with velvet booths leading up to the gleaming open kitchen and blazing Marana Forni pizza oven. Descend the stairs for a peek at the moody private-dining-room-slash-wine cellar, which can fit up to 10 people around a green marble table.
Upstairs is a cocktail bar serving classic Italian spritzes alongside Lavender Margaritas, Negronis barrel-aged in-house, and mostly Italian wines. The space is warm – with a 500-bottle light installation suspended overhead – and there’s a small courtyard outside.
But the best sunset vantage point can be found on the rooftop, which is semi-covered to suit every season. A backlit bar and foliage-covered wall corner off the venue, which offers sweeping views over South Yarra. Though drinks are the focus up here, you’ll also find a small selection of snacks and pizzas. The pizzas take inspiration from owner Ali Mousavi’s father – who ran Italian restaurants for 40 years.
The rest of the menu, which is available to order everywhere except the rooftop, includes knockout Italian favourites. Order bucatini with spanner crab and tomato oil; tagliatelle with oscietra caviar, crème fraîche and cured hen’s yolk; chicken piccata with burnt lemon; and 250-gram eye fillets sourced from Tasmania’s King Island.
And as for the name? The original Stella is Mousavi’s young daughter.
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