Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cafe Di Stasio

31A Fitzroy St, St Kilda (03) 9525 3999

If I had to pick a style of cooking that I do best, I would probably say it's Italian. It's the first style of food that I learnt how to cook and it's probably the style I understand the most. For this reason, I'm always interested to try an Italian place that makes great, authentic food. I'd heard a lot about Cafe Di Stasio for a long time, but as I knew the prices there are on the higher end of the scale, I put off visiting there. That was until the other day when I had a day off work and my friend suggested we go and check out the Cafe Di Stasio Lunch special. The lunch special is your Melbourne standard two courses and a glass of wine for $30.

Di Stasio is located on St Kilda's Fitzroy Street, right in the heart of the action. From inside however, with the shutters tilted, you would be completely unaware of the hustle and bustle outside the window. The restaurants tables seem packed in to the relatively small L shaped room. The walls are stricken with horrible mime-like face masks which are used as light holders, I don't know what they were thinking!

I ordered the Spaghetti with Tuna and Tomato as an entree. The portion was extremely small, especially in comparison to the oversized bowl it was served in. The spaghetti was definately on the undercooked side of al dente and could have done with an extra minute or two on the stove.
The tuna sauce was tasty though, with just the right amount of Tomato mixed through.

For Main Course, i ordered the Chicken Cacciatore. This was a much better example of classic Italian cuisine and was actually quite delicious, however, once again, the serving was undersized and I probably should have listened to the waiter's recommendations of ordering a side dish. The chicken was tender and the sauce was rich and tasty.

The waiters at Di Stasio are the first waiters I've come across in Melbourne that wear outfits that basically look like tuxedos. It seems very over the top, especially when the service doesn't match up to their dress standards. There was no service with a smile and our empty glasses of water got about as much attention as we did.

I always think that a good lunch special is a great indication as to whether you should go back to a restaurant for dinner and pay full price. Considering the high prices at Di Stasio and the fact that they failed to impress us at lunchtime, I don't think we will be returning anytime soon. The food is very simple and iwhat we had was nothing that even someone with minimal cooking experience could cook in their own home.


thanh7580 said...

The meal sounded very underwhelming indeed. Cafe Di Stasio has been one place I want to go to as well, since people say how authentic the food taste. But from what you've tried, it doesn't look to be better than other Italian restaurants.

The staff at Rockpool wear neat outfits, not quite tuxedos but a white button jacket. But I really like the neat shirt, tie and apron combo at Vue de Monde. Ultra classy and with ultra high service to match.

Anonymous said...

I was terribly overwhelmed by Cafe Di Stasio when I went there for a "special dinner" 2 years ago. Rude snobby staff and very average food. Not worth it at all. For wonderful Italian, try Becco. Perfection.

Anonymous said...

I visited Cafe Di Stasio recently for lunch and was also disappointed by the service. The five different staff who served us throughout the day varied from uninformed (the first recommended the risotto for a vegetarian option, the second revealed they used chicken stock) to impatient (particulary the woman who seems to be manager and unsmilingly cleared our table with such an unsettling pace it created a terrible clutter). Although I found the food relatively good, the service, dated decor and lack of ambience made for quite an unremarkable experience.

Anonymous said...

I am very belatedly reading your review of Di Stasio, and am sorry to read that you were disappointed.

I absolutely adore food, and cooking, and reviews, etc, but as a finishing-up-uni-student, I don't get heaps of chances to go to all these great restaurants. Nevertheless I am fairly well versed for Melbourne food and restaurants.

I have been to Di Stasio on almost 10 occasions over the past 5 years or so, and while I would agree with you about the service sometimes, other times we have had fantastic service.

The lunch special is a gem I think, and I've always had fantastic food from that menu - obviously a seasonal menu. Bad luck you were underwhelmed.

Dinner there is great too, except expensive.

I'm not sure if I have expressed myself fantastically, but overall my food experiences at Di Stasio have been great, the service experiences on and off, but I would rush back any day and highly recommend it. Maybe try it again someday!