For those who regularly cruise the quaint bars and tiny cafés that decorate Melbourne’s northern suburbs, the sheer size of Café Stuzzi will warrant a double take. With a full menu and perfectly prepared Ducale coffee, groups large and small alike will undoubtedly enjoy a visit to this historic venue.
Situated in the increasingly hip neighborhood of Northcote, the venue’s grandeur stems from its former life as an arcade, purchased by the local council ten years ago, with the hopes of making High Street an attractive drinking and eating destination.
The Leraci family leased the building and opened Café Stuzzi, and are still running the business a decade later. Sergio Leraci has worked in hospitality since he moved from Italy to Australia 26 years ago. He currently runs the kitchen, while his children, Simona and Daniel, split the morning and evening shifts. Sergio’s goal when he first started was to bring good food to an area then lacking good quality menus.
Today, he continues to look to improve the menu, taking inspiration not only from his Italian heritage, but also from around the world. The offerings range from a Middle Eastern breakfast where humus is paired alongside avocado, toast and poached eggs; to Asian dishes such as Thai beef and prawn and noodle salad; while leaving room for Italian classics such as gnocchi, linguini and risottos. The family will change the menu seasonally to accommodate the freshest produce and local demand.
“We really get a mixture of people who come in. This area has a lot of different cultures living here and we try to cater for everyone,” Simona says.
The funky décor of the restaurant matches the eclectic heritage of the area. The modern pieces of metal work complement the funky design of the restaurant. With an industrial feel, the hanging curtain, oversized lamp fixtures and massive candleholders that seem to grow out of the table, balance well with the room’s dimensions to give it a quaint atmosphere despite it’s size.
The groovy setting lends itself well to the bar and lounge-type atmosphere that stuzzi’s takes on, on friday and saturday nights. simona notes, however, that they continue to sell far more coffee than alcohol. They chose Ducale coffee because they wanted something more boutique. The barista staff are well trained on the machines and can serve across the whole range of coffees.