In the original cellars of the historic hotel they imagined a ‘cantina’, the sort of underground, rustic environment that would appeal for its evocative atmosphere and the inevitable conviviality that would arise from contented diners.
In 1991 it commenced as a very simple affair with bare wooden tables, a basic blackboard menu and paper napkins. Stefano, working in partnership with his wife, Donata Carrazza, began to prepare traditional, rustic Italian fare, similar to the cooking he grew up with in the Veneto region of Italy. Diners would peruse the menu but were delighted to take up
Stefano’s suggestions that he simply feed them what he had prepared for the day. This style of dining with a set price per person and an element of surprise became synonymous with eating at Stefano’s.
Now more than twenty years on, this original idea has progressed into diners choosing a six or an eight course option. At the helm of the kitchen is Jim McDougall, former apprentice of Stefano de Pieri. Jim’s modern techniques and Stefano’s Italian
traditions marry to move Stefano’s into the modern world.
The restaurant and Stefano have been bestowed numerous awards and continue to attract local, interstate and international diners.
Stefano’s is housed in the original cellars of the Mildura Grand Hotel. What were once cool rooms for kegs of beer have been turned into intimate dining spaces. The larger of the two, The Cool Room, seats up to 30 guests and is notable for a display of frosted mirrors from the 1930s that visually narrate the Mildura story. The Venetian Room seats up to 14 guests and takes its name from Stefano’s origins. The corridor linking these ‘cool rooms’ is lined with tables for single or couple diners and an array of art work and memorabilia from Stefano’s collection.