A sleek space with food and service to match - a welcome addition to Carlisle Street
What we ate:
“Bee stings” – fried jalapeno chillies stuffed with feta, lime and pine nuts
Crabmeat stuffed tempura zucchini flowers
Rabbit cacciatore pappardelle
Spag “Mazza” (Marinara) with garlic, chilli and wine
Ilona Staller might be named after a porn star, but there's nothing sleazy about this long awaited gem on Carlisle Street, in the old Red Rooster/Commonwealth bank building on the corner of Nelson St. Arriving, TFG was immediately struck by the ultra sleek retro bar on the right and the super quick reception from the staff.
Being the little sister of Cicciliona is no mean feat, and thankfully, Ilona Staller doesn’t cave under the pressure. Despite the no bookings policy, we were seated immediately (though we did arrive at six, such was our excitement).
The atmosphere is fun and convivial, and the menu is a mixed offering of modern Italian fare. Our waiter was flamboyant and friendly and knew the menu back to front. We shared three delicious starters: the tempura zucchini flower stuffed with crab meat, the ‘bee sting’ – a jalapeno with feta and pine nuts, and the bolognaise arancini. Each starter was mouth watering and a perfect precursor to our meal – although TFG anticipates they would have been equally amazing as an afternoon bar snack accompanied by a nice glass of vino.
The Spaghetti ‘Mazza’ was equally impressive. Although it’s not uncommon to feature a marinara pasta on an Italian menu, its rare to see an offering this well executed.
Overall, Ilona Staller was a great experience, with a winning combination of fantastic food and friendly service.
Food – 8.5/10
Value – 3.5/5
Service – 4/5
Total - 16/20
282-284 Carlisle Street Balaclava