Di Stasio Pizzeria brings its own brand of Italo-Australian dining to Carlton

The Caravaggio Room with Reko Rennie artwork on the wall is joined by Bar Sport, The Ladies Lounge and gravel-covered ...
The Caravaggio Room with Reko Rennie artwork on the wall is joined by Bar Sport, The Ladies Lounge and gravel-covered courtyard. Photo: Justin McManus

After 18 months of menu refinements, building works and ingredient sourcing, Rinaldo Di Stasio and Mallory Wall quietly opened the doors to their third restaurant, Di Stasio Pizzeria, on Saturday night in Carlton, serving what might be the city's most "local" pizza in surrounds that are both historical and playful.

While the green-hued restaurant tucked off Faraday Street is pitched as more casual than Cafe Di Stasio or Di Stasio Citta, the devil is in the detail, such as the imposing volcanic ash bars, white-jacketed waiters and the pair of solid brass hands from the St Kilda restaurant that have been mounted near the entrance to bring good luck.

Then there's the carefully engineered pizza.

Pizza Finocchiona featuring the house-made fior di latte, fennel salami and fennel pollen.
Pizza Finocchiona featuring the house-made fior di latte, fennel salami and fennel pollen. Photo: Justin McManus

Fior di latte made in-house with St David milk from Gippsland, specially grown San Marzano tomatoes from the Yarra Valley and Mount Zero olive oil are the secret weapons of chef Federico Congiu.

"He's a delicious control freak," says Wall. "He's part mad scientist, part passionate chef."

Five red and five white pizzas come in ultra-simple combinations such as sausage, cime di rapa and chilli; fennel salami, fior di latte and fennel pollen; or lobster and lardo. The wine list will be of the usual high Di Stasio standard, something Wall says is a rarity when you go out for pizza in Australia.

Hands that were previously a pair of door knobs at Cafe Di Stasio in St Kilda have been mounted on the walls here, with ...
Hands that were previously a pair of door knobs at Cafe Di Stasio in St Kilda have been mounted on the walls here, with the gesture bringing good luck or keeping bad spirits away. Photo: Justin McManus

Like the couple's other venues, the 100-seater celebrates art as much as hospitality, with a similar "white cube" look to Citta that lets three boldly coloured paintings by Reko Rennie (Genesis I, II and III) stand out.

Three indoor dining spaces, christened Bar Sport, the Ladies' Lounge and the Caravaggio Room, are all connected by chrome-tiled halls. A gravel-covered courtyard dotted with classical urns and kitsch swan-shaped planters is anchored by a 17th-century limestone fountain from the Roman countryside.

Wall says a third restaurant was certainly not on the cards until this particular space, tucked behind King & Godfree in the heart of Carlton, became available. During the pandemic, the pair had even more time to plot and perfect, finding and rearranging the many objects that make the space unique.

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The Marana Forni oven that bakes the 48-hour rested pizza dough also touches prawns paired with chickpeas for an entree, squid as a main course and the roasted bird of the day, perhaps spatchcock, goose or chicken baked in clay.

Seven pastas, from carbonara to the signature lasagne Pasqualina, and a long list of simple vegetable dishes round out the menu's savoury dishes, while fior di latte pops up again in soft-serve form along with other sweets such as apricot crostata.

Meanwhile, whey left over from the cheesemaking appears across the menu – dressing raw fish, hydrating focaccia, saucing ravioli – showcasing the clever thriftiness of Italian cooking.

Apricot crostata is among a short dessert menu that also features fior di latte soft-serve.
Apricot crostata is among a short dessert menu that also features fior di latte soft-serve. Photo: Justin McManus

Open Wed-Thu 5.30pm-late, Fri-Sun noon-late.

224 Faraday Street, Carlton, 03 9070 1110, distasio.com.au/pizzeria