PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
The Mess Hall is an unpretentious diner, in the heart of Melbourne's theatre district.
Under the helm of Frank Stella (who also owns Stellini Bar on Little Collins Street), The Mess Hall is the ideal neighbourhood restaurant. Residing in what seems to be a former split-level terrace, the restaurant space is flooded with natural light and detailed with Victorian architecture. Bright and airy, guests are welcomed by efficient, friendly staff and a wave of appetising aromas from the kitchen. Scents of butter, bread and olive oil provide the perfect appetite stimulator and create a homely atmosphere in the restaurant.
Despite its no bookings policy, the turnover of tables is quick and we are quickly ushered to an intimate table near the kitchen. A far cry from an army mess hall, this restaurant has established a reputation as a reliable provider of terrific pizza and pasta dishes of a northern Italian bent. In true Italian spirit, the starters are designed for sharing with dishes such as calamari fritti and harissa croquettes. The pizza, pasta and main plate menus are generously-sized – with the standout choice being the sausage, provolone and chilli pizza. The beetroot salad with Bulgarian fetta, Japanese mushrooms, yoghurt and herbs works well as a side dish, offering a fresh reprieve from some of the heavier Italian dishes.
The Mess Hall embodies all the makings of the perfect neighbourhood restaurant - it is consistent, casual and full of charm.