On of Melbourne’s most dining institutions, Marios Café, will celebrate its 30th birthday with a big serve of generosity.
From 7am to 10.30pm on April 28, every dish on the menu will be marked down to 1986 prices. That means coffee for a buck, lasagna for $4.50 and perfectly cooked eggs on toast for just $3.50… everything on the menu except for the booze. And like always, Marios’ founders Mario Maccarone and Mario De Pasquale (pictured) will be greeting customers at the door. The two Marios kickstarted Melbourne’s cafe revolution when they opened their eponymous cafe. Back in ’86, Brunswick St was home to a growing community of artists and performers living in mostly boarded up shop fronts. Tenants changed as the strip boomed, but Mario’s authentic style has never wavered.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary, Five of the Best asked the two Marios for their top five dining institutions in Melbourne. They jumped at the chance, so long as they could choose restaurants with continuous ownership and staff, along with consistently authentic food and service. These are the Marios’ top five…
1. France Soir
11 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, 9866 8569
Jean-Paul Prunetti founded France-Soir in 1986. Many of the kitchen staff and waiters have been there for countless years. It’s an unpretentious French bistro offering classic French staples and a legendary wine list. Simple, timeless dishes and fabulous wine has attracted loyal regulars.
2. Flower Drum
17 Market Lane, Melbourne, 9662 3655
Founded in 1975 by Gilbert Lau, who continues to be involved since selling to three of his long-term staff in 2004. An enduring favorite of many for its dignified, classical dining room, generous and attentive staff and delicate Cantonese classics.
109 Elgin St, Carlton, 9347 0006
Abla Amad opened this home style Lebanese restaurant in 1979. This restaurant also has many long serving staff and loyal customers. A place for fresh food, no fanfare. Cooking from the heart, as Abla describes it.
80 Bourke St, Melbourne, 9662 1811
Founded in 1928 and owned by Guy Grossi since 1999, Florentino continues to offer modern and traditional Italian food in their classic 1930s dining room. A grand place for grand celebrations.
5. Di Stasio
31 Fitzroy St, St Kilda, 9525 3999
Rinaldo (Ronnie) di Stasio is a vigneron and patron of architecture and the arts. He founded Di Stasio in 1988 and like the classic dining rooms of Europe, it’s a restaurateur’s restaurant. Thoroughly Italian, those in the know come for the seasonal set-lunch of two courses and wine.
Find Marios at 303 Brunswick St, Fitzroy.