Lygon is a well-known street in Melbourne, but it gets a bad rap. To be fair, the strip of Italian restaurants between Queensbury and Elgin streets in Carlton does have its fair share of tourist traps. In spite of the chequered tablecloths, there are many excellent restaurants to be found.
Restaurants are popping up all over the place in the city of Carlton, which is currently experiencing a renaissance. With so many options available, don't be surprised if you're limited to Italian cuisine.. There are plenty of places to choose from now.
Lygon Street restaurants, like the area's spruikers, offer a dizzying array of options. Carbonara from the southern hemisphere, one claims, while a 400-cheese pizza is claimed by the other. Both are good options, but if you dig a little deeper, you'll find a wide range of cuisines, from fiery ramen to modern Australian.
While this list begins with some of the best Italian Carlton has to offer, it’s worth keeping your options open when it comes to which suburb of the street you plan on visiting and what cuisine you’re after, too.
10 Best Lygon Street Restaurants
Want to dine in Melbourne's finest restaurants, but have no idea where to begin? Not to worry. You can satisfy all your cravings on Lygon Street, which runs from Melbourne's inner northern suburbs to the CBD and is crammed with eateries, cafes, and bars.
It's also known as "Little Italy" because of the abundance of Italian restaurants in the area. If that isn't enough, this foodie hotspot boasts a plethora of restaurants with alfresco dining options so you can eat while taking in the sights and sounds of the neighbourhood.
Here are the best restaurants on Lygon Street.
Debates about what constitutes a "proper" pizza and who is best at making it have become increasingly heated. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, Napoli's pizza police, has given their seal of approval to Johnny Di Francesco's on Lygon Street (and its gleaming outpost at Crown) (AVPN).
Pizzas are cooked here for 90 seconds on a 400-degree stone until they are golden and crisp on the bottom—just the way starched pants are supposed to be. Prosciutto, tomato sauce, and mozzarella remain fresh thanks to fast-scorching, which preserves the imported ingredients' integrity.
Locals and tourists can be distinguished by the glittering, tiled patrons of the trattoria at night. Those who have spread their napkins far across their laps are the ones who are aware of the race to bring Margherita to her senses.
It's not all about the dough at this establishment. The Aperol Spritz cocktail and the stuffed zucchini flowers with ricotta are both selling like hotcakes on our website. The bar's meats and cheeses are also available for immediate consumption from the counter.
Our favourite part of the night is watching the pizza gods at work while sipping Menabrea, their version of Peroni, and nosing on stuffed green olives that have been enhanced with a veal mince stuffing. A flavorful bar snack, these olive oil-fried suckers are a popular choice.
A distinctly Italian ambience and level of service are provided. No matter what your sweet tooth craves, there's always the option of ordering a dessert board, which comes with a choice of up to three different desserts.
This year marks the 11th anniversary of the Hellenic Republic of Brunswick East. Restaurant owners should be proud of just making it through their first few years in the business. The fact that you're thriving in Kew, Williamstown, and Brighton suggests that you've got some serious bartending chops, and a visit to the Brunswick mothership is proof of that.
There's a fine line between smart and casual, and the Hellenic Republic falls somewhere in the middle. A mosaic-tiled communal table and lobster-basket lampshades provide a stunning backdrop for pita-eating families and friends. The smell of lamb and chicken rotisserieing on the spit is a siren song, and the open kitchen hums with activity.
There's nothing new on the menu; the dishes are made with simple, fresh ingredients, and the portions are enormous. Before you know it, you'll be ordering a bottle of Yianni Ramnista Xinomavro. The chicken for your spit roast has arrived. Oregano, garlic, and a squeeze of lemon flavour the glistening meat, which is served with a side of mashed potatoes and vegetables.
Traditionalists may insist on using the kaffir lime leaf in the battered calamari, but we think it adds just the right amount of flavour. Aleppo pepper flakes amp up the heat and colour, and a dab of ouzo mayonnaise adds a touch of booziness to finish the dish.
On the other hand, don't forget to order some ouzo and a bottle of wine from the all-Greek wine list if you find yourself in unfamiliar territory. Both their expertise and their genuine desire to help you make them ideal for the job.
Crushed tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese are used to cook the prawns so that the tomato sauce is full of prawny flavour and the cheese adds an extra salty layer from the land. Sauteeing some wild greens like Horta (which includes kale and spinach) is a fine side dish, but a zesty cabbage coleslaw spiked with herbs is even more memorable.
The rizogalo (rice pudding) is a testament to George Calombaris' mother's belief that a sweet tooth should be satisfied. The shortbread crumbs and pistachios on top of the vanilla bean-flecked rice add texture and flavour, while the salted caramel sauce adds just the right amount of sweetness without being overpowering.
A decade ago, Calombaris built an empire and hosted MasterChef. Surprisingly, the quality of his flagship product has not deteriorated. We wish it well on its ten-year journey and hope it remains as relevant and exciting as ever.
Despite its flaws, Heartattack & Vine is an excellent choice. Even if you've never been to a place named after a Tom Waits album, you can still appreciate the name. Lygon Street appears to have finally found its place in the world.
Many of Melbourne's immigrants hail from Italy, which inspired this design. In contrast to the Italian coffee houses that dot this stretch of Carlton, Heartattack is a forward-looking eatery and bar.
The small shotgun venue manages to feel open and bright thanks to vintage glass lights hanging from metal window panes. During the day, this is the place to go for simple fare like coffee and sandwiches or more exotic fare like iced chocolate spiced with orange and chilli.
Even so, they're more than happy to serve us a drink in the evening. When they start serving in the evening, the staff begins to unwind and talk about how much food is being brought in and how quickly it is being served.
You need a snack when you're drinking. Cicchetti, Italy's take on tapas, are the ideal food to go with a glass of wine. You won't be disappointed if you're looking for a high-quality aperitivo experience here. Find out by visiting Heartattack with a rumbling stomach.
Chicken liver parfait is served on brioche bread with a slice of sage-roasted pineapple. By contrast, the new combo throws out all the jammy accompaniments and sets sail for the Caribbean.
After a few bites of the tuna sashimi on seaweed rice with avocado and mustard sauce, you'll notice that the fish flavour is gone but the ocean smell is still there. When the bar is piled high with tiny plates that beg to be eaten, controlling one's impulses will be the most difficult part.
The wine selection at this posh eatery is stocked with some of the best offerings in the business. Its earthy finish elevates a Pecorino above the average fragrant by the glass.. Contrastingly, Fiano is bright and floral in flavour and aroma. Tall & Relaxing, on the cocktail menu, denotes low-alcohol options with the same level of imagination and complexity as full-strength drinks.
The Sherry, Lemon Leaf Syrup, and Rosemary Rebujito is a little too sweet, but it's still one of the best cocktails in the city. This dish is best served with a skewer of grilled anchovies, lemon-stuffed olives.
For example, Gina Fizz and Pedro Ximenez Sherry are used in the fizz, while Bourbon, Dry Sherry, and Cynar are used in the bitter Manhattan. It could be better, but what they're doing is inventive, delicious and authentic to the Italian cocktail legacy, and an excellent representation of that tradition.
During the past year or so, Melbourne's oldest hospitality strip has seen an increase in quality and an evolution of ideas. Introducing Heartattack & Vine, a new band that's transforming this old town into something new.
Located on Lygon Street in Melbourne, Brunetti is a well-known pasticceria. The hipsters will tell you it's just a chain, but this place has lasted for a long time for a good reason. Try a cup of piping-hot cocoa. It's so thick and dark that you could stand a spoon in it, and it's nearly black.
Yes, I'm talking about macarons. Crispy, crumbly, and creamy, these brightly coloured puffballs are consistently excellent.
Brunetti is a triple threat, with a cafe, piazza, and restaurant, so you could spend all day there, eating and browsing the pastries and cakes in between.
Need a nocturnal nibble? Head to this stylish fromagerie and wine bar where, until 1 am. You can unleash your inner house mouse.
Scurry along with the five-metre-long cheese cabinet, drinking in the sights and smells of over 150 artisan cheeses. If you’re paralysed with choice, cosy up on the green banquette seating and let the in-house experts choose: perhaps a ‘cheese & booze flight’ where sparkling wine, sake and cider are matched to the creamy stuff.
Warm-up on a cold night with fondue pots, baked cheeses and even a luxe truffle oil macaroni cheese (a far cry from the Kraft boxed version).
If you’ve reached peak sloth and can’t bring yourself to roll off the couch, get a cheese box delivered. And if you’re planning a knees-up, have a cheese up in their upstairs function room.
One of the most popular spots on Lygon Street is this lively Sicilian joint, where the music is always pumping and the snacks are always flying out. Bar Idda is always full, so you'll need to book early. On the site of the former Rumi restaurant, you'll find this cosy neighbourhood trattoria (Rumi have moved to, uh, roomier digs).
Turn your menu over for a crash course in Sicilian cuisine – Bar Idda has provided an illustrated timeline in addition to sketching out a map of the region. It's possible to learn about the arrival of citrous fruits like oranges, lemons, and melons as well as the arrival of chocolate and tomatoes (1487 AD). Handy!
If you're not going to eat anything else, skip the arancino, a rice ball filled with ragu, cheese, boiled egg, and peas. Instead, opt for the puppet Dolci – cinnamon-scented beef meatballs smothered in a thick tomato sauce.
This dish is an eggplant baked with pecorino, tomato and basil that's served on top of the mulinciani. With a side of fresh pea, lentil, ricotta, and mint-flavored lenticchia d'estate and a cool salad of salted cucumber and onion, this dish is perfect.
There is no chicken caponata on our visit, but we'll be back to try it. The all-Italian beer list, which includes Menabrea, Ichnusa, and Moretti, deserves praise as well. Do you want some wine? 'Bar Idda red' or 'Bar Idda white' can be purchased for $20 a litre.
Tiamo is yet another Italian restaurant serving pizza, pasta, and other Italian fare, but what sets it apart is the type of customers it attracts. This family-run restaurant serves cheap spaghetti bolognese to students, professionals, and skateboarders from Lincoln Square. If you can't make up your mind, order a pizza instead.
The Green Man's Arms, an Israeli-inspired vegan pub on Lygon and Elgin, is open seven days a week.
Alison Whyte and Fred Whitlock, who previously owned and operated the Terminus Hotel in Abbotsford, Alberta, have opened a new restaurant called Green Man's Arms in Abbotsford, Canada. Isreali chef David Raziel prepares fair-trade and seasonal fare at Arms.
Fried eggplant, green beans, and mushrooms on la huh bread, as well as falafel and falafel on la huh bread, are all on the menu (made according to a secret Jerusalem recipe, according to rumour).
If you want a proper pub meal, you should try the roasted vegetables and the grilled vegetable salad with beets and almonds and a silky labneh (both of which are named twice).
The main draw of a pub is, unsurprisingly, its selection of beer. It is owned and operated by Green Man Arms Brewing Company, which brews its own craft beers such as Hawkers Pilsner and Stomping Ground Saison. All of the pub's wines are free of animal products. If you'd like to sample the pub's "Melbourne vegan" Kombucha spritz, you can do so.
You may not think of Japanese cuisine when you think of Lygon St., but Kumo Izakaya is a must-stop for sake and shochu lovers. There are plenty of protein-heavy Japanese dishes on the izakaya menu, which is ideal for soaking up all that sake.
While the inner city has seen a slew of new restaurants serving up inventive takes on classic fare, Brunswick East has remained a bastion of good, old-fashioned cooking.
Teta Mona, a boho-chic eatery run by brothers Antoine and Becharo Taouk, serves simple Lebanese fare with lots of pickles and no fuss at all just past Albion Street.
Exactly what a local eatery should be accessible to everyone, in every way possible. It's a noisy, BYO establishment, but the service is personal, if a little shaky, at peak times.
Inside, you're sat in a room that looks like a cross between an anthropology enthusiast's share house and a stall at the Dandenong markets: couches, plenty of intricately carved tables, and a large display of those blown glass water pitchers (aka bricks).
While the days are still long and the sun is shining, this is a pleasant spot to spend some time. Outside in the large shady courtyard, the menu buzzes with the energy of just-picked ingredients.
On this list, you'll find a lot of vegan options. Using a split pea base of green and yellow, the falafel is given a sweeter twist on the traditional chickpea dish. In a jammy reduction of olive oil, chilli, and garlic, the green beans are liberally sliced and served. In addition, we'd like some fried cauliflower and eggplant with dukkah and a squishy and cumin-y tahini dip. It doesn't matter which way you go, you can always start here.
There is no need to order the bread or pickles as a side dish, as we did. In addition to beetroot-colored turnip batons, the soft stacks of pliable flatbread accompany nearly every dish.
They also made a strong case for abstinence. Fresh mint and ice are added to pineapple or pomegranate juice to create the house-made slushie. With that in mind, how about sipping on the most sour lemonade in the land? It's like sucking on a citrusy Warhead because they use the entire lemon, including the skin and seeds.
There is a lot of fresh and wholesome food here, from the pan-fried snapper fillets dressed up with chilli, nuts, and tahini to the baklava. With agave nectar and chia seeds in place of butter and sugar, they manage to achieve the perfect balance of crispness, chew, and nutty crunch in their pastry dessert. That's good news for everyone who eats, big and small.
Melbourne's Lygon Street is well-known, but it has a bad reputation. Numerous top-notch eateries can be found despite the ubiquitous chequered tablecloths. There are numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars on Lygon Street. There are a lot of Italian restaurants in the area, so it's known as "Little Italy." Hellenic Brunswick East celebrates its 11th anniversary this year.
The ingredients in their dishes are simple and fresh, and the servings are enormous. Both aperitifs made with Aperol Spritz and stuffed zucchini flowers made with ricotta are in high demand. With the help of vintage glass lights hung from the windows, the intimate space is made to feel airy and light. A little too sweet for my taste, but the Sherry, Lemon Leaf Syrup, and Rosemary Rebujito remains one of the city's best cocktails. It's hard to go wrong with puffballs that are crispy, crumbly, and creamy.
Located on London's Lygon Street, Bar Idda is a well-known hangout for the locals. A five-meter-long cheese cabinet and an illustrated menu distinguish this lively Sicilian joint. Choose from the arancino, a rice ball filled with ragu and cheese and served with an over easy egg and peas, or go for the meatballs made with beef or pork. In addition to pizza and pasta, Tiamo serves other traditional Italian fare. Located on Lygon and Elgin, the Green Man's Arms is an Israeli-inspired vegan pub.
Sake and shochu connoisseurs should not miss Kumo Izakaya. There are many vegan options on this list. The falafel is given a sweeter twist on the traditional chickpea dish by using a split pea base of green and yellow. The house-made slushie is made with pineapple or pomegranate juice, fresh mint, and ice.
- Restaurants are popping up all over the place in the city of Carlton, which is currently experiencing a renaissance.
- You can satisfy all your cravings on Lygon Street, which runs from Melbourne's inner northern suburbs to the CBD and is crammed with eateries, cafes, and bars.
- It's also known as "Little Italy" because of the abundance of Italian restaurants in the area.
- This year marks the 11th anniversary of the Hellenic Republic of Brunswick East.
- The rizogalo (rice pudding) is a testament to George Calombaris' mother's belief that a sweet tooth should be satisfied.
- Heartattack and VineDespite its flaws, Heartattack & Vine is an excellent choice.
- During the past year or so, Melbourne's oldest hospitality strip has seen an increase in quality and an evolution of ideas.
- Introducing Heartattack & Vine, a new band that's transforming this old town into something new.
- Scurry along with the five-metre-long cheese cabinet, drinking in the sights and smells of over 150 artisan cheeses.
- Bar Idda is always full, so you'll need to book early.
- The Green Man's Arms, an Israeli-inspired vegan pub on Lygon and Elgin, is open seven days a week.
- Using a split pea base of green and yellow, the falafel is given a sweeter twist on the traditional chickpea dish.
- There is a lot of fresh and wholesome food here, from the pan-fried snapper fillets dressed up with chilli, nuts, and tahini to the baklava.
FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants & Cafes
Little Italy in Victoria, Australia (sometimes referred to as the "Italian Precinct" or simply "Lygon Street"), is a "Little Italy" cultural precinct of the Italian community of Melbourne. It is situated along Lygon Street in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Carlton.
According to the 2006 Australian census, Victoria has the largest Italian-Australian population in Australia (around 200,000 statewide), with much of its inner-Melbourne population recorded in the suburbs of Carlton and nearby Brunswick.
Lygon Street is home to many Italian restaurants and is the birthplace of Melbourne's "cafe culture".
Named after Lord Lygon, a British cabinet minister of the 1830s, this street extends several kilometres north from Victoria Street, Carlton, through North Carlton to Albion Street in East Brunswick.
The northern section, between Park and Albert streets, was originally named Cameron Street but renamed Lygon Street in 1872. The East Brunswick section of Lygon Street features long rows of shops, restaurants and cafés and several textile and clothing factories.
The North Carlton section is almost entirely made up of small terrace houses opposite the Melbourne General Cemetery. The Lygon Street electric tram route was built in 1916 and ran south through these suburbs from Nicholson Street in Coburg to Elgin Street in Carlton (where it turns west and then south into Swanston Street).
The Carlton section of Lygon Street dates from the government surveys conducted by Robert Hoddle in 1852. The street features some outstanding 19th-century landmarks that include the Trades Hall.
The interwar period saw the greatest changes to the nature of this part of the street, with the large local Jewish and Italian populations opening shops and cafés, marking Lygon Street with its distinctive cosmopolitan flavour.
Some of these businesses, famous throughout Melbourne, survive today: King & Godfree, University Café, Jimmy Watson's Wine Bar, and Toto's. The Italian influence strengthened with postwar migration and eventually led to the establishment of the Lygon Street Festa in 1978.
The street is a mecca for students and academics from the University of Melbourne and RMIT, as well as for tourists.
The Carlton Italian Festa, also known as La Dolce Italia or the Lygon Street Fiesta, is a melting pot that showcases Italy's diverse culture in Melbourne.
The celebration of Italy's culture brings together locals of Italian descent as well as those who are interested in Italy's culture.
Lygon St is famous for its restaurants, cafes, bars and liveliness. It's part of Melbourne's CBD and runs all the way up through the city's northern suburbs.
400 Gradi is the best Italian restaurant on Lygon Street. The restaurant specialises in wood-fired Neapolitan pizza and mains.