Aimee O'Keefe
23 Best Italian Restaurants in Melbourne | Man of Many
With a team full of foodies, Man of Many has had the chance to sample some great Italian food in our lifetime. And when we put together a list of the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne together, we’re thinking about more than just pizza and pasta. We’re taking traditions into account, e.g. is the pasta sauce made in-house? What about the pasta itself? How good is the Tiramisu? Are the tomatoes San Marzano? Serious questions that demand serious flavour. Where we haven’t had a chance to visit, we’ve turned to food critics and expert reviews in compiling our list. Man of Many’s editors have also taken into account, price points, and dietary requirements, while also making a concerted effort to highlight a few Italian restaurants outside the CBD. Now, let’s check out the list below.
How Man of Many Chose the Best Italian Restaurants in Melbourne
Of course, while we can’t take you on a trip to Italy, these are our favourite spots in Melbourne.
Best Melbourne Italian Restaurants at a Glance
Expertly marrying Italian cuisine with a unique Australian expression, Di Stasio Citta is fondly known as ‘the Milan end’ of Melbourne, and we can’t agree more. Located on Spring Street, the space itself is designed to inspire and champion food, art, ideas and philosophy and bring together all the aspects of Italo-Australian history, culture, place and heritage. In terms of food, you can expect a boujee but authentic menu full of flavours that will transport you to the streets of Milan—we especially love the Milano-style saffron-soused risotto.
1. Di Stasio Citta
Simple, modern Italian cuisine in a laid-back setting, what more could you ask for? Now a St Kilda institution of sorts, this place always seems to be full, and for good reason—think burrata with Iberico Jamon, heirloom tomatoes and peach, and kingfish crudo with jalapēno, sour cream, finger lime, radish, poppy seeds, and that’s just to get you started. With one of the most extensive wine lists in Melbourne and an eclectic collection of art covering the walls, Cicciolina is the perfect spot to sit back and relax after a long day.
2. Cicciolina
Tipo 00 more than makes up for the lack of pasta at Osteria Ilaria next door. This isn’t your average everyday pasta spot, this is our favourite pasta restaurant in Melbourne with one of the squid-ink tagliolini you’ll ever taste. If squid ink is a little left of the field, the al dente asparagus and sage tortellini, dripping in Parmesan sauce is a winner.
3. Tipo 00
For a more traditional, fine-dining Italian experience, head to Florentino on Bourke Street. Their menu champions raw produce combined with traditional Italian cooking methods, paired with a wine list that focuses on lesser-known Italian varietals. Having been around since 1928, we don’t see this Melbourne icon going anywhere anytime soon, all you need to do is remember to book to ensure you get a spot.
4. Florentino
Also located on Bourke Street, Rosa’s Canteen is one of the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne that offers a more modern spin on classic Italian fare. The menu leans more towards  Sicilian dishes, we love the classic Tortiglioni with alla norma and the zucchini agro dolce, plus, the comfy setting means you can really relax while you enjoy your meal.
5. Rosa’s Canteen
When it comes to restaurants, Carltobn has plenty of gems to choose from, and Capitano Carlton is one of those gems. Effortlessly managing to combine classic Melbourne vibes with the feels and flavours of the Mediterranean, we can’t fault this place, whose simple yet delicious menu has to be one of Melbourne’s finest creations. You can expect grilled peach to start, Squid Ink Conchiglie pasta, Fennel Salami, Pecorino Cream, Red Onion, Rocket pizza, fun cockatiels, red, rosé, white and orange wine as well as plenty of beer options too.
6. Capitano Carlton
If you haven’t heard of Smith & Daughters, it’s safe to say, you may have been living under a rock—this beautiful restaurant is a dining experience like no other, and it is also entirely vegan. Offering a contemporary Mediterranean menu prepared entirely with locally sourced, seasonal produce, you can enjoy an À la carte menu or indulge in a 3-course set menu (recommended!)
7. Smith & Daughters
When you’re in the mood for classic Italian vibes and a casual (but delicious) bite to eat, look no further than Marios. Known for its unpretentious approach to Italian cuisine, the street-side cafe brings a vibrant addition to the bohemian quarter just north of Melbourne’s CBD. The menu is traditional and simple, paired with local and international wines, and if you love an all-day brekky, breakfast is served here until 5pm!
8. Marios
Cecconi’s is Melbourne’s answer to a New York-style basement restaurant, but in this case, you can expect some of Melbourne’s finest Italian cuisine. The menu takes inspiration from Italy’s northern regions, complimented by a well-curated wine list. We can’t go past the crispy calamari rings with salsa verde and garlic aioli, and if you’re vegan, they also have an entirely vegan menu.
9. Cecconi’s
Nestled away on Little Collins Street, you will find Lupino—a simple Italian bistro with handmade pasta, bread and good wine, housed in a kitsch space with a timeless, retro feel. The menu is fairly small, with around six pasta, three to four pizzas, three entrees and three mains, which we find perfect for sharing.
10. Lupino
Trattoria Emilia is great for those lunchtime escapes from the office (if you’re not too full to work afterwards). With bolognese that’s freshly made daily, as well as one of our favourite spinach and ricotta ravioli in Melbourne. We can’t go past the ricotta gnocchi with confit tomato, basil pesto and pine nuts.
11. Trattoria Emilia
As you first step onto the terrazzo floors of Bar Carolina, you’ll feel yourself transported to the shores of Italy. Run by the owners of Il Bacaro (another favourite on our list) you’ll find some of the best Italian steak and fish in Melbourne on the menu. And, as the name suggests, Bar Carolina has some of the best wine and cocktails on their menu.
12. Bar Carolina
When you think of Italian food, you think of pasta. Well, not at Osteria Ilaria. The kitchen at Osteria Ilaria serves up traditional Italian food with features of food across Europe popping up on their menu, such as lamb cutlets, duck and 48-hour fermented sourdough. With their variety of meals, we think you can afford to skip pasta for just one night.
13. Osteria Ilaria
The flavour and fun of Italian food are at the forefront of Baby. Baby stands out in two ways on our list of the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne. Firstly, they make their mozzarella by hand in store, for the richest, stringiest cheese. Secondly, they’re one of the first stores on our list that serves all-day breakfast. This means you can start your day the right way, with spicy shaved pancetta and rocket scrambled eggs.
14. Baby Pizza
Scorpi means to discover, and this Italian restaurant in Melbourne offers plenty with a culinary journey to challenge any in the city. It all starts with their seasonally changing menu where only the best, freshest ingredients are used in each dish. The team also farms their own produce, meaning that your dish has been looked after at every stage on its journey to your table. Favourites of ours include the Pesce del Giorno (Butterflied King George Whiting with Sicilian crumb and salmoriglio) and classic Bistecca alla brace.
15. Scopri
Park Street Pasta & Wine has a unique way of preparing its freshly made pasta. Using a machine to extrude their pasta (a process not dissimilar to Play-Doh being squeezed through different shapes) macaroni and penne can be made. Extruding pasta is incredibly unique within Australian Italian restaurants, so don’t take your meal for granted as it’s served perfectly al dente. Favourite menu items of ours include the classic cacio e pepe and Pappardelle with pork shoulder, simply outstanding.
16. Park Street Pasta & Wine
Il Bacaro has had a consistent presence on many lists of the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne. And with their wine menu including more than 400 wines, it’s not hard to see why. For this sheer multitude of wines, don’t be afraid to ask the waiter for their recommendation. And, aside from the wine, the food at Il Bacaro is pretty good too.
17. Il Bacaro
With a regularly changing menu to match the ingredients of the season, you’re only getting the best at Oster. What stood out from its list for us, however, as its dessert menu (sweet-tooth through and through). Order yourself a deconstructed lemon meringue tart, flamed when plated for some extra flavour and presentation points.
18. Oster
A wine bar with an amazing Italian restaurant that just happens to be out back. The cellar downstairs is a great mix of wines and antipasti, while upstairs you’ll find a larger set menu. Seafood is the star of the menu at Agostino, with tiger prawns, anchovies and flounder swimming across the menu.
19. Agostino
Rosella Ristorante is a sure-fire hat-in-the-ring for Melbourne’s best Italian restaurant. You’ll come for the woodfired lamb dishes, but you’ll stay for the sixteen variations of handmade pasta that can be found on the menu. This along with the outdoor seating, overlooking the Yarra River, makes for a truly wonderful dining experience.
20. Rosetta Ristorante
At Sosta Cucina your drink will never be half full (or half-empty, depending on your optimism) with its fantastic table service. Attentive staff will look after you throughout your meal, and this is another three to four-course menu restaurant, so that’s a long time. The antipasti are a great way to start your evening, before digging into a main of pasta or steak.
21. Sosta Cucina
At Bottega Restaurant you can enjoy your Italian food whilst seated on the streets of Melbourne, much like in Rome. Just be ready to have pedestrians eyeing off your meal as they pass by. Favourites of ours include the house-made tagliatelle and lobster, of course. Using ingredients from his own farm, the chef at Bottega loving Italian dishes for you to enjoy. Inside or outside, enjoy the wonderful atmosphere and food found here.
22. Bottega Restaurant
You’ve heard the term pizzeria before, but what about gnoccheria? Well, Pizza e Gnocchi Bar Elsternwick is the go-to specialist in all things gnocchi. You can watch how the gnocchi is made, before sitting down to a bowl yourself. They also provide freshly made gluten-free gnocchi, something that’s incredibly hard to find elsewhere.
23. 48H Pizza e Gnocchi Bar Elsternwick
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