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Albert Place

Albert Place was located in an area known to be thick with brothels in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, running parallel to Greville Place off Little Bourke Street. In 1895 the lane contained two residences and the Melbourne Club Hotel. The area was home to many Chinese cabinet makers, but by the 1930s there was also an Italian influence in the lane. The Melbourne Club Hotel was reopened as Mario's Italian Restaurant in 1932 by Mario Vigano, who had fled Mussolini's regime with his family four years earlier. Mario's moderately-priced fare attracted a diverse clientele, including middle-class families attending shows at the Comedy Theatre adjoining Albert Place, or Her Majesty's Theatre on Exhibition Street. As Mario's grew, it began hosting concerts of its own, and eventually even Liberace performed at the 'now world famous show'. Although once said to be the largest continental restaurant in Australia, Mario's succeeded its owner by only two years, and was demolished with the rest of Albert Place in 1966.

Edwina Byrne

Sands & McDougall’s commercial and general Melbourne directory, Sands & McDougall, Melbourne, 1860. Details
Stephen Downes, Advanced Australian Fare: How Australian Cooking Became the World’s Best, Allen & Unwin, 2002. Details
W. S. Benwell, 'Vigano, Mario Antonio Francesco Battista Virginio (1888 - 1966)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, online edition, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A120363b.htm. Details