Great Italian food is undoubtedly one of life’s great pleasures and, as a priority, I always seek out the the ‘Little Italy’ precincts of any city I travel to. The best Italian cuisine is both a comfort food and a connection to some of my earliest culinary memories.
Perhaps you are looking for authentic, lovingly prepared Italian favourites like pasta carbonara and wood-fired pizza. Maybe you are hungry for an imaginative spin on a timeless classic. Either way, you are guaranteed to find a restaurant to suit your tastes somewhere in this guide.
And if would you prefer to wander through an Italian district in Melbourne and pick out a restaurant from its street appeal, then you must visit the Lygon Street precinct in the heart of Carlton. It was in this pocket of ‘Little Italy’ that Melbourne’s famous cafe culture was born.
Read on to find out more about the best 15 Italian restaurants in the city of Melbourne.
We open our look at the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne with the perfect lunch spot for diners who crave traditional Italian generosity. At Emilia, their bolognese is made on a daily basis and is guaranteed to be fresh and their spinach and ricotta ravioli is far from plain.
The service is efficient and you’ll leave here with a full stomach, ready to tackle the day’s tasks with energy.
Is a simple sanga sometimes all you need for lunch? Here are our Best Sandwiches in Melbourne.
Location: 360 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: Wed-Thur 5pm-10pm, Fri 12pm-3pm, 5pm-10pm, Sat 5pm-10pm
This is undoubtedly one of the finest Italian restaurants in the city. It is the sister restaurant of Café Di Stasio, another highly popular venue.
This place is renowned for both the quality of its food and wine and its ambience.
The pasta is entirely house-made and as such, you will be coming back time and time again to taste the authentic dishes on offer.
Location: 45 Spring Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30am-10pm
This restaurant is proudly authentically Italian – from its terrazzo flooring to its buzzy atmosphere.
Prized for it’s exquisite Italian steak, the menu also boasts a beautiful range of fish options.
Why not wash that wholesome food down with one of their delightful cocktails to really make the most of your night out? It’s not called ‘Bar Carolina’ for nothing.
Love a cocktail or 2 after a bowl of pasta? See our guide to the Best Cocktail Bars in Melbourne.
Location: 44 Toorak Road, South Yarra 3141
Opening Hours: Mon-Tues 5:30pm-10pm, Wed-Sun 11:30am-10pm
This Italian restaurant has been open since 1993 and the food reflects over twenty years of excellence. It has become a much-loved favourite amongst Melbournians due to the phenomenal food that is served here.
If you find yourself waiting for a table at this popular Italian eatery, then you can head straight to the bar and sample a pleasing variety of Italian wine.
Even better, grab a seta at the bar and enjoy a cocktail or 2. After all, this is one of our favourite places for a date night.
Prefer to rattle the cocktail shaker at home? See our Easy Cocktail Recipes.
Location: 130 Acland St, St Kilda VIC 3182
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10pm
You simply can’t talk about the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne and ignore Grossi Florentino.
If you are seeking a fine-dining, Italian experience then this is the restaurant for you. Here, the service is exemplary and the food served is exquisite across every course. If you consider yourself to be a bit of a lasagne expert, you must try their version with the Wild Boar Ragu. It’s to die for, but take a friend as it comes in a double serve. Believe me. Your friend will be delighted!
And don’t worry if you can only spare a quick hour or so over lunch. Simply sample the delights on offer on their Veloce quick menu.
Do you hanker for a pie every now and then? Here are our favourite Pies in Melbourne.
Location: 80 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 12pm-10pm, Sat 6pm-10pm, Sun Closed
This is the perfect restaurant for quality Italian meat. It boasts a wide range of cuts, from lamb to duck.
And then there’s the 48-hour fermented sourdough.
Dishes like the Beef Sirloin Carpaccio with Bay Leaf Ricotta and beetroot are divine and my partner still talks about the balance of the Spaghetti with King George Whiting, Koji and Sardine. Yum!
If you love fish dishes, see our recommendations for the Best Seafoods Restaurants in Melbourne.
Location: 367 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-10:30pm, Sun Closed
This restaurant is conveniently located next door to the aforementioned Osteria Ilaria and it a must for those who are seeking authentic Italian pasta. If you are looking for a more experimental option, then the squid-ink tagliolini or the sage tortellini are the best options for you.
This is renowned for being one of the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne if you re a pasta lover.
Would you like to try a new spot for brekkie this weekend? See our Best Breakfasts in Melbourne.
Location: 361 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-10pm, Sun Closed
The simply named ‘Baby’ is far from simplistic in reality. They hand-craft their mozzarella to create the stringiest cheese with the most mouth-watering flavour.
They’re also one of the only restaurants in Melbourne that serves a wholesome all-day Italian-style breakfast that includes shaved pancetta and deliciously flavoursome scrambled eggs. You’ll certainly be crying like a baby if you don’t find a seat here!
Wondering where else to try for a great pizza? Check out our Best Pizza Places in Melbourne.
Location: 631-633 Church Street, Richmond VIC 3121
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-11pm, Sat-Sun 8am-12pm
If Sicilian cuisine is your specific passion, then this is the restaurant for you. Rosa’s only uses the finest, freshest seasonal ingredients and sources them locally as opposed to using imported food.
Not only will the flavours tantalise your tastebuds, but we love that they pop their recipes on their website. It’s fun to go home after eating here and try and recreate some of their delicious creation yourself.
Location: Corner Little Bourke & Thomson St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-9pm, Sat-Sun Closed
This restaurant serves simple Italian options and rarely uses over eight different ingredients in a dish. In contrast to some places, their priority is flavour and they don’t believe in overwhelming their dishes.
Similar care is shown with the wine menu which is constantly evolving to ensure that you only drink the finest Italian drops. Keep coming back here to see what new bottles they are on their list.
Come summertime, we love a Rooftop Bar. Here are some of our go to haunts in Melbourne.
Location: 445 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: Mon 11am-3pm, Tues-Fri 11am-3pm, 5pm-10pm, Sat 5:30pm-10pm, Sun Closed
Now this entry on our rundown of the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne is a little different from the rest of the pack. That’s because this restaurant specialises in American-Italian cuisine. Which means big serves as well as tasty food.
The pizza here is phenomenal and there are so many choices to choose from that the menu has been divided into ‘Pizza’ and ‘Not Pizza’ options.
If you are looking for hearty food, then this is the spot for you.
Location: 421 Rathdowne Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Opening Hours: Sun-Thur 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm
This restaurant is aptly named after the Italian word meaning ‘discover’. We reckon there’s a good chance you will discover your new favourite Italian dish at this dining spot.
Like other places on this list of the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne, the menu here changes with the season. The great thing about this is you can come back time and again to sample new culinary delights.
At Scopri, they use only the freshest ingredients and their own-farmed produce. The result is dishes that are organic and authentic from paddock to plate. And they are all delish.
Melbourne is known for its coffee and here are some of our top places to grab a great cup.
Location: 191 Nicholson Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Opening Hours: Tues-Fri 12pm-3pm, 5:30pm-10pm, Sat 5:30pm-10pm, Mon-Sun Closed
This restaurant has maintained a continual and revered presence on the Italian restaurant scene due to the sheer excellence of its food. It’s wine menu also boasts over 400 options and as such, you are virtually guaranteed to find the best glass to compliment your meal.
As you would expect, their waiters are expertly trained to know which wine will best suit each dish. Eat here and we predict you will leave having been impressed by the high standard of service.
We love pasta, but we are also suckers for a deep bowl of noodles. These are our top Ramen Spots in Melbourne.
Location: 168-170 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 12pm-12am, Sun Closed
This restaurant prepares its pasta in a distinctively unique way, using machinery to extrude the delightfully doughy macaroni, pasta and penne options.
The result is wholesome, authentic pasta, freshly prepared. And you can taste that attention to detail in every single mouthful at Park Street Pasta and Wine.
Sometimes, all you want is a big, juicy burger. See our guide to the Best Burger Restaurants in Melbourne.
Location: 268 Park Street, South Melbourne VIC 3205
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11:45am-10pm
Lupo likes to throw diners a bit of a curve ball. This restaurant uniquely identifies its food as being traditionally Italian, but without the need to use traditional ingredients. Do not be put off by this seemingly contradictory statement, as once you have tried their wagyu lasagne or the crab, scallops and sunrise lime lasagne, you will not regret It!
They are also one of the more inclusive venues on this list as they serve a range of gluten-free and vegan alternatives. This is a favoured spot amongst Melburnians for a reason.
Prefer to eat plant-based? See our Guide to eating Vegan and Vegetarian.
Location: 300 Smith Street, Collingwood VIC 3066
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 6pm-10pm, Mon Closed
Rosetta Ristorante (BONUS)
The bonus selection on this list is the Rosetta Ristorante. This restaurant serves food crafted by the celebrity chef Neil Perry and is renowned for being one of the most popular Italian restaurants in the whole of Melbourne.
The wood-fired lamb is to die for and they also boast over 16 variations of house-made pasta.
The dining experience is also complimented by the outdoor dining area where you are able to look across the Yarra River and as such, this is undoubtedly one of the best spots for a first date in the whole of Melbourne.
Feel like a tipple after your meal? Here are some of our favourite Bars in Melbourne.
In conclusion, Melbourne boasts a wide range of Italian restaurants, ranging from canteen-style eateries to fine dining alternatives and as such, you are guaranteed to find the right restaurant to satisfy your Italian cravings.
Whether you are looking for hearty, traditionally American-Italian options like pizza or you are seeking flavoursome seafood and meat dishes, you will definitely find the option to suit your personal preferences from the list above.
Melbourne has garnered a reputation for serving the very best food from around the world and there is no cuisine that is more intrinsically laden with culinary excellence than Italian cuisine.
Therefore, it is important that this city gets it right when it comes to Italian food and I guarantee you will be served food that has been prepared with years of skill and culinary expertise.
Incidentally, we have a dedicated review of Lello Pasta Bar which you can read here.