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L'avis de Gault&Millau
From the same family as St Kilda institution Cicciolina, and headed up by Chef Virginia Redmond, Ilona Staller is a Balaclava favourite with comforting Italian food.
The inside is moody and inviting. Big leather booths, carpeted floors and a grand bar at the front with leopard-print seats give a trendy vibe. Wines are a highlight, such as a gamay from Beechworth that goes down a treat.
Chef Redmond has designed a menu that includes classics and some modern interpretations. Start with some oysters shucked to order, or a kingfish and salmon carpaccio. For a super-fresh start, there’s an haloumi salad with mixed grains and vibrant pomegranate pearls. Mains include their house-made pastas. The spaghetti mazza has all the good stuff – pipis, mussels, prawns and calamari, with a subtle white wine and chilli sauce. Potato gnocchi is rich and delicious with a sage, burnt butter and pecorino sauce. Their steaks are always popular with diners, with a choice of cuts available.
PSST! Take the kids with you to this friendly neighbourhood eatery, with kids’ meals available every day for just $12.
Reviewed for the 2019 Guide