Great Italian food is undoubtedly one of life’s great pleasures and, as a priority, I always seek out 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 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.
Location: 360 Little Collins St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9670 7214
We open our look at the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne with a perfect lunch spot for CBD diners. Trattoria Emilia is a charming, cosy and laid-back restaurant with a great range of fresh handmade pasta dishes and daily specials.
There’s a warm rustic ambiance to the restaurant with white walls, wooden tables and interesting artwork on the walls. The food is based on fresh seasonal produce and the menu changes regularly.
The owners hail from Modena in northern Italy, and the trattoria takes inspiration from the rich culinary tradition of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna (hence the name). Classic recipes are typically handed down through generations, and then given a modern twist by Emilia’s talented chefs.
Try the Tagliatelli with Ragu Bolognese if you crave a traditional classic, or perhaps the Taglioni with Truffle, when in season. This is authentic Italian food served in generous portions and with reasonable prices.
The waiting staff are efficient and friendly, and the location conveniently central. Trattoria Emilia is a wise choice for lunch or dinner.
Not Italian, but really very good, check out our review of Farmer’s Daughters on Exhibition Street
Location: 45 Spring St, Melbourne, VIC 3004 Ph: (03) 9070 1177
This is undoubtedly one of the finest Italian restaurants in the city. It is the sister restaurant of Café Di Stasio, which is a renowned and popular venue in its own right.
This establishment is lauded for the quality of its food, the freshness of its produce and the extensive wine list. There’s also a beguiling, chilled ambience to the venue which is bang on trend with its industrial chic credentials.
The pasta is entirely house-made, the cooking methods traditional and the specials both authentic and inventive.
Is a simple sanga sometimes all you need for lunch? Here are our Best Sandwiches in Melbourne.
Marameo (formerly Sarti)
Location: 6 Russell Pl, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9639 7822
Marameo replaced the beloved Italian restaurant, Sarti, when it was ‘retired’ in late 2019.
Known for serving imaginative modern Italian food in relaxed environs in Russell Place, Sarti was a long-time favourite of the CBD crowd.
With its welcoming bar and rooftop terrace, Sarti offered a CBD sanctuary to embrace the age-old Italian values of family, friends, food and celebrating life in style.
Sarti was a One Hat Restaurant and AGFG award winner, with a contemporary focus on food and style. Executive Chef, Paolo Masciopinto’s career is known for creativity, passion and commitment to quality.
With Marameo, the bar and wonderful rooftop terrace have been re-imagined, and there’s been more than a cursory make-over. If anything, the venue is now even more laid-back, chilled and casual. Cheeky and irreverent comes to mind.
Marameo is another hospitality venue from the Italian-bred and Melbourne-raised, Carolina Group. Il Bacaro (on Little Collins St), Tetto Di Carolina and Bar Carolina (both in South Yarra) have also sprung from restaurateur Joe Mammone’s fertile imagination.
The squid-ink spaghetti with blue swimmer crab was popular at Sarti, and it remains a staple on the menu at Marameo.
All the pasta is made in-house, and if you find yourself hungry in the city, the $20 Express Lunch offers great value (from 12pm daily).
Marameo is an eatery where you can enjoy the time-honoured traditions of Italian cuisine without the clichés.
Location: 36-38 Degraves St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9650 8060
We had to choose a bistro or restaurant in Degraves Street for this article. Why? Because Degraves is one of our favourite eating streets in the whole of Australia.
In our opinion, every visitor to Melbourne should take the time to explore Degraves Street in the heart of the CBD.
Are your Pasta Bowls chipped or cracked? Take a look at these beautiful designs and see if any of them would look good in your kitchen.
It’s a famous, funky street-art adorned laneway with hole-in-the-wall cafes, bustling pedestrians, trendy boutiques, and quirky restaurants. It’s an iconic Melbourne hotspot for dining, drinking and soaking up the atmosphere.
Grab a table at Cafe Andiamo, order a Negroni with the pollo funghi, follow up with an affogato, sit back, people-watch, and revel in the sheer hubbub of this enchanting laneway.
Location: 44 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, VIC 3141 Ph: (03) 9820 9774
This restaurant is proudly authentically Italian – from its terrazzo flooring to its buzzy atmosphere. Located in buzzing and social South Yarra, just a few kilometres from the CBD, this is an engaging Italian eatery.
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 named a ‘bar’ for nothing.
Love a cocktail or 2 after a bowl of pasta? See our guide to the Best Cocktail Bars in Melbourne.
Location: 130 Acland St, St Kilda, VIC 3182 Ph: (03) 9525 3333
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 Melburnians due to its iconic status, phenomenal dishes and the winning conviviality of its atmosphere.
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: 80 Bourke St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9662 1811
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.
On a warm evening, a table outside on the street makes you feel like you’re eating in Milan.
Do you hanker for a pie every now and then? Here are our favourite Pies in Melbourne.
Location: 367 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9642 2287
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: 361 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9942 3946
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. But be warned; due to this, Tipo 00 can be incredibly hard to get into. So make sure you get your booking organised early.
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
Location: 631-633 Church St, Richmond, VIC 3121 Ph: (03) 9421 4599
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 use authentic San Marzano tomatoes in their sauce. And Patate Salsiccia Pizza – Italian Sausage, Chat Potato, Fior Di Latte & Rosemary – is utterly addictive!
Impress your friends and amaze your family buying cooking them authentic Italian Pizzas at home. Click here for more information and prices
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: Level 1, Cnr Little Bourke & Thompson St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9602 5491
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 one of their delicious creations yourself.
The Harbour City also have some excellent Italian eateries. For our guide to the Best Italian Restaurants in Sydney, click here
Location: 87 High St, Doncaster, VIC 3108 Ph: (03) 9816 3555
If you’re seeking an Italian restaurant out of the city, then consider Brunelli Restaurant in Doncaster (about 16kms north-east of the CBD).
It serves traditional, unfussy traditional Italian fare – think wood-fired pizzas, risottos and pasta classics – all reasonably priced and served in a comfortable, light-filled, friendly environment.
Our favourite dish? Probably the Gnocchi Con Ragu Di Vitello (house-made gnocchi tossed with a rich veal ragu).
Editor’s Note: This restaurant is now temporarily closed. We will update on further news.
As an alternative, why not try…
Location: 297 Lygon St, Carlton, VIC 3053 Ph: (03) 9347 1619
If you know anything about the Italian food scene in Melbourne, you’ll be aware that for many people Lygon Street restaurants are the first place to look for popular regional fare.
With this in mind, welcome to our take on Agostino – bang in the centre of Melbourne’s ‘Little Italy’. Not only that, but it’s part of the fabulous King & Godfree Italian deli and grocer.
This wine bar come restaurant serves delicious seasonal sharing plates of antipasti, wonderful bowls of pasta and superb mains.
Pop in for a Negroni and appetiser of salty Prosciutto with Persimmon & Gnocco Fritto and stay for the al dente Bigoli with its lush Duck Ragu.
Agostino is part of the stylish King & Godfree set up in the heart of Melbourne’s Little Italy – Lygon Street. This enterprise now includes its namesake gourmet delicatessen and grocer, the Pidapipo gelateria, the King and Godfree Espresso Bar and the rooftop bar, Johnny’s Green Room.
Agostino is the perfect place to grab a glass of Italian wine and a nibble before heading to the nearby Nova Cinema for an Italian film.
Location: 445 Little Collins St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9670 5347
This unpretentious CBD restaurant is renowned for the simple elegance of its dishes. Authentic Italian food cooked via traditional recipes, with a focus on seasonal produce, uncomplicated flavours and classic favourites.
Try the osso buco or ricotta gnocchi, and you will see what we mean.
It’s a tiny restaurant with a great reputation and a loyal following, so be sure to book first to avoid disappointment.
Come summertime, we love to grab a sandwich and head outside. Here are some of our favourite sandwiches in Melbourne.
Location: 421 Rathdowne St, Carlton, VIC 3053 Ph: (03) 9134 8555
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: 191 Nicholson St, Carlton, VIC 3053 Ph: (03) 9347 8252
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: 168-170 Little Collins St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9654 6778
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.
Do you have an annoying friend or family member that is a nightmare to buy presents for?! Check out our Gift Ideas to see if we can inspire you.
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: 268 Park St, South Melbourne, VIC 3205 Ph: (03) 9042 8871
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.
And yes. Their wine selection is pretty good too.
Sometimes, all you want is a big, juicy burger. See our guide to the Best Burger Restaurants in Melbourne.
Location: 300 Smith St, Collingwood, VIC 3066
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.
Rosetta Ristorante (BONUS)
Location: Crown Melbourne, Crown Riverwalk, Crown Melbourne, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank, VIC 3006 Ph: (03) 9081 0534
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.
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