The Hardgrave Road dining strip welcomed Italian cuisine back to its midst when Mario’s opened in February 2021. The restaurant is the newest culinary concept from the Luigi’s Italian and Mama Taco team, who have refashioned the old Luigi’s space into an aperitivo bar-meets-experimental Italian restaurant hybrid. Executive chef Raffaele Persichetti has created an ever-changing menu of envelope-pushing eats – think clean, inventive and surprising flavours that take in the spectrum of Italian gastronomy and imbue it with tasteful elements of worldly cuisines. The fun starts in the late afternoon when Mario’s opens as a street-side aperitivo bar for sips of amari, grappa and cocktails alongside a selection of appetite-whetting snacks. This offering bleeds into a tasting menu that showcases Mario’s current selection of inventive dishes – shaken up day and weekly. Wine is also a big-ticket drawcard, with an approachable selection of vino encompassing high-roller barolos and nebbiolos as well as natural Italian grapes grown in Australia.