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Scorcher reviews: Di Stasio Citta — ‘I’ve saved the best for last’

How is it even possible? The end of the year is almost upon us and I’m still getting over the barbecue I threw on Australia Day.

So what better way to ease yourself into the silly season than by grabbing your significant other, whipping out your calendar and setting aside a date to treat yourself to a fancy-pants, special occasion dinner. And I’ve got just the place.

This has been a jolly good year for eating in Melbourne but I’ve saved the best for last.

Di Stasio Citta, one of hottest restaurant openings of this year, has been geeing up Melburnians with its escapist approach to dining ever since it slid open its doors in February. Part flash Italian diner, part modern art installation, Di Stasio Citta has become the go-to spot for a touch of old-fashioned indulgent dining.

At Di Stasio Citta even the door is a taking point. With no signage, or even a street number on display, the spaceship-type entrance can be easy to miss; make sure you hit the little grey button to open the door otherwise you’ll be left standing in the street like a numpty.

But once inside, leave any awkwardness on the footpath and let the rollicking good times wash over you. Scan the room – a grey, austere, modern art museum style set up, which is at odds with the ebullient vibe of the place – and you’ll notice the high-backed red leather seats and stools at the marble bar are populated by smiley folk sucking down barolo and slurping on dainty pasta dishes.

Di Stasio Citta is Ronnie Di Stasio’s welcome home party to the CBD; he first opened the game-changing Rosati in 1985 but, since 1988, the restaurateur has been plying his trade in St Kilda at the original Di Stasio, now a Melbourne institution.

You’ll need two hands to hold the large menu and some muscles when it comes time for paying. I want to give you the heads up: this joint ain’t cheap. But if you’re in the mood to splash some cash on some sensational food, Di Stasio Citta won’t let you down.

We started with anchovies wrapped in sage, which are then floured and fried. This is what Ross Stevenson calls a salt delivery mechanism and I could have eaten 10 of them. We also loved little pillows of gnocchi topped with a rich wild boar ragu, which come out looking like mini London guards with tall bearskin hats on.

Dish of the day went to the gorgeous capellini con granchio, handmade angel hair pasta with chunky flecks of crab, olive oil, chilli and parsley. Just divine.

Fabulous too was the malloreddus pasta – aka Sardinian gnocchi – made from semolina and served with a pork and fennel sausage ragu.

Also on the massive menu are bigger dishes including, but not limited to, suckling pig with apples, slow-cooked lamb, cherry and pigeon pie and veal with prosciutto, sage and white wine, plus house-made pastas like prawn linguine, spaghetti with beef and pork ragu, and lasagna pasqualina.

Di Stasio Citta is almost a throwback to the days when businesses gave their employees expense accounts and wine-guzzling long lunches were paid on company credit cards.

So with 2020 just around the corner, there couldn’t be a more appropriate time to push aside life’s ills for an evening and splash out on a luscious meal.

And if you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas this year, I will gratefully accept Di Stasio Citta vouchers (*hint hint*).

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