It’s 4.38am. My mouth is dry. My head is sore and I have hangover insomnia (as I call it).
Last night I dropped in for a quick bowl of pasta at the new Bar di Stasio. And that’s where I went wrong.
There has never been any such thing as a quick bowl of pasta at Cafe di Stasio nor will there ever be such as thing at Bar di Stasio, which last week celebrated its 25th year.
I know that about half of you out there are gong to disagree with me here as di Stasio is the kind of place that polarizes people.
Even before I’d met (and I should declare been watered) by Ronnie di Stasio or Mallory Wall (pictured at the bar above) I was a big fan of the restaurant. And for me it just gets better by the visit.
It’s starts off with the set lunch which I remember as far back as $15 for two courses and a glass of wine. It’s now $35 but you will never get out of there without a mugging by the charm of restaurant’s old school Italian waiters complete in their white jackets, black bowties and, sometimes, dyed black hair.
It’s insidious. Perhaps it starts with a glass on impeccably presented Campari ($13). An Aperol Spritz ($15). Or maybe a prosecco ($11). Kerching!
Watch out for the bottled water. And that second glass of wine. The caffè corretto (espresso with a shot of grappa) is mandatory. $35 is now $75. And I’ve started drinking so I have to finish off as much as I can from the bar.
In possible the most aesthetically designed bar I’ve ever been too – a collaboration between Ronnie, architects and artists – and it happened again. And since I started writing this post it has happened again and again. And again.
I sat at the monolithic marble bar imported in two slabs (from Sicily as is the original bar next door) and sealed together in a near invisible paper thin seam. Behind me over the entrance is a fire engine red Callum Mortan sculpture appearing to give structural integrity to the single fronted space.
The pale rendered walls are finished to a polish with no addition of paint. It’s just expensive detail in a solid brick and plaster wall. It makes for quality and solidity. It gives you the feeling that the place has been here for ever and will remain forever.
The glass panels encasing the distressed walls show the history of the room in the tradition of classical museums.
To anyone who will listen I’ve raved about the proportions of the room – the two doorways at the end of the long rectangular rooms and the two narrow spaces giving a peek into the main restaurant set of the room.
The corrridor leads to bathrooms that are floor to ceiling marble. Beyond is a hidden nook and a dead end. It’s a clever execution that shows the level of attention detail that has gone into this place.
And what of the food? It’s small bites. Melazane fritte – eggplant fritters – at $11. Tuscan Soldiers at $3 each. Hot goat cheese, tomato + basil salad for $9. You can move on to lasagne and other pasta and pigeon pie as you can see on the menu here.
As I’ve said I love it. I’ve returned. And I will return again. At this almost barren end of Fitzroy Street Croce via di Stasio and Cafe di Stasio are burning bright.