Di Stasio Carlton is not just another pizza place

Carol Saffer

Italian restaurant Di Stasio Carlton took out the Best Restaurant design at the Eat Drink Design Awards. 

The Awards, approved by the Australian Institute of Architects and the Design Institute of Australia, recognise Australia and New Zealand’s best projects in the hospitality sector. 

From top-notch restaurants and bars to quirky hole-in-the-wall cafes and pop-ups, the Awards are a unique scene for architects, designers, and clients to present their best new projects.

Melbourne firm Hassell, a multidisciplinary architecture, design and urban planning practice, is responsible for designing and constructing the third Di Stasio restaurant owned by Rinaldo Di Stasio and Mallory Wall.

Di Ritter, senior associate at Hassell, worked with the owners to create their city restaurant Di Stasio Citta on Spring St in the CBD.


“It was a big help when designing the Carlton building,” Ms Ritter said. “They already had the DNA worked out, and it was a case of fitting it in a new shell.”


“Rinaldo describes it as ‘Intalianality’; old school Melbourne Italian like a Thornbury house with a Nonna’s garden.”

The Faraday St building was stripped back to its bare bones, with the 1950s terrazzo floor retained and other areas filled with black concrete.

“Internally, it is a bit of an adventure, you would get to the bar, and then there was a tunnel [shape] that took you through to the next room,” she said.

“Rinaldo already owned three artworks by Reko Rennie, [an interdisciplinary artist who explores his Aboriginal identity through contemporary media].”

“So, we created separate spaces inside to house his trilogy of Reko’s work and commissioned Shaun Gladwell sculptures as well.”

The courtyard was a significant focus of the design.

“The crunching of gravel underfoot and the experience of going down this inquisitive laneway lined with greenery was quite contemporary, but with an ancient fountain and the ambience of the water trickling in the background,” Ms Ritter said.

Ms Wall hopes this will remind people of peering through keyholes of doors in Rome and seeing a beautiful courtyard within.

Carlton-based interior design studio owner Fiona Lynch was a member of this year’s Awards jury panel. 

From her perspective, the judges looked at the entries for something distinctive and unique.


“Di Stasio met this with its inherently original yet contemporary feel that has its hallmark yet is still part of the unique Di Stasio DNA of food, art and culture,” Ms Lynch said.


“It is never easy [making the final call] when standards are high, but the originality of the design was impactful from the outset,” she said.

“It sounds obvious, but you know you’re at Di Stasio Carlton when you’re in the space because it’s definitive.”

“The original terrazzo floor and the different feel of the internal and courtyard spaces are the highlights of Di Stasio’s design that made it stand out to the panel.”

Lockdown was an advantage as the retail businesses in the area were closed.

“It gave access to the construction site without disturbing anyone during the year it took to build the new premises,” Ms Ritter said.

The floor and bars were poured on site and are solid and permanent.

Ms Ritter, who lives nearby, said Lygon St was a friendly community.

“The guys from Tiamo delivered coffee daily and pizza and beers to the boys on site on Friday nights.” •

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