Marios was established in 1986 by Mario Maccarone and Mario De Pasquale, two Italian-Australian waiters with a radical vision for a new, inclusive dining experience in the largely abandoned bohemian quarter just north of Melbourne’s CBD.
A welcoming but uncompromising attitude was key: muted jazz, starched white tablecloths and smartly dressed waiters; offset by simple, classic, inexpensive dishes to dramatically enhance the experience of budget dining.
An instant fit with the less orthodox lifestyles of artists, musicians, actors and shift-working cab drivers and nurses, Marios became the hub of an exploding new Fitzroy community which thrives to this day.
Marios’ engagement with Melbourne’s rich and varied arts scene escalated in 1991 with the Continental Café: a sister venue in Prahran combining live music with elegant dining, hosting some of the biggest local and touring artists of our times to forge a lofty international reputation.
The Continental closed its doors in 2001, but the rotating art on the walls of Marios Café in Fitzroy, exhibited for sale free of gallery fees and percentages, continues the founders’ abiding empathy with the arts community.
The front-window panorama has changed beyond recognition since 1986, and on July 1, 2021, beloved co-founder Mario De Pasquale retired after 35 years greeting guests on the café floor. Fellow founder Mario Maccarone remains alongside a loyal and long-serving staff.
What remains is more important: traditional Italian cuisine with a distinctive Marios touch, unaffected atmosphere, great coffee, and the laidback egalitarian ideal at the heart of Melbourne’s international reputation.