italian restaurants

What Are The Most Popular Italian Restaurants In Melbourne?

Italian is more woven into Melbourne’s food fabric than any other cuisine. For most of us, it’s our first choice in terms of familiarity and everyday eating. Many of the restaurants in this guide have been feeding us for decades. 

They haven’t changed a bit, and we hope they never do. Even places that have opened more recently tend to lean classic. It’s hard to change up Italian too much; it was pretty much nailed the first time around.

This guide was difficult to narrow down. Chances are you’ll see a lot of your favourites in here, but it’s just as likely some will be missing. That speaks to the breadth of choice at Melbourne’s disposal nowadays.

You’ll find some of Australia’s best Italian restaurants in Melbourne. Some of the best the world has to offer this side of the equator. And that’s not just my entitled Melburnian snobbery talking.

With 37% of Melbournians boasting an enviable Italian heritage, you can guarantee that you’ll be able to find every staple Mediterranean dish (and then some) at one of these impeccable Italian restaurants in Melbourne. For rich, hearty and authentic Italian cuisine, look no further.

22 Best Italian Restaurants in Melbourne

The best Italian restaurants in Melbourne are among the nation’s top picks, but it’s no real surprise. The Victorian capital has become the hospitality hotspot for restaurants inspired by global cuisine, particularly Italian. 

Every street, corner, and alleyway seem to have an Italian restaurant busily serving Melbournians, but which is the best? That’s where we come in. With our list of the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne, prepare to have your tastebuds tested by some of the best pizza and pasta you’ll find outside of Italy itself.

Marano

Marano is the newest and self-proclaimed “cheeky” member of Joe Mammone’s Bar Carolina, Il Bacaro and Tetto family – in other words, a cadre of some of the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne. 

If “cheeky” is the drive behind their delicious twists on classic pours and surprise combinations like Wagyu tartare cannoli – then it’s my favourite in the family. The squid ink spaghetti, WA blue swimmer crab, chilli, tomato and fish roe deserve their mention, but all the handmade pasta here will win your palate’s heart. Enjoy the playfully decorated interior or settle into the courtyard on a warm night in Melbourne’s CBD.

Address: 6 Russell Pl, Melbourne

Tipo 00

Tipo 00 has a tasty selection of starters, but don’t kid yourself; the main event is the pasta. It’s found in the restaurant’s namesake. “Tipo 00” is the specialty flour used in the creation of their delectable dishes. 

If you want to ignite all of your senses, go for the chef’s menu – it is a truly religious experience. If you have any doubts, the chef in question, Andreas Papadakis, stepped out of Vue de Monde to give Melbourne this small 42-seat CBD pasta temple.

Address: 361 Little Bourke St, Melbourne

Park Street Pasta & Wine

Housed in an understated Victorian terrace, Park Street Pasta & Wine is the best combination of an Italian countryside flair and friendly local hang out. 

Save a bit of that freshly baked rosemary focaccia and whipped pork lardo starter; you’ll need it to wipe up the “Mafaldine” pasta, oozing in cacio e Pepe, black pepper & pecorino-romano sauce. 

The daily pasta, based on locally sourced and high-quality ingredients, are regularly switched up for your pleasure.

Address: 268 Park St, South Melbourne

Café + Bar Di Stasio

Rinaldo Di Stasio’s famed institution has graced St Kilda for over thirty years. Di Stasio guarantees you an event of indulgence and gluttony, waited upon by white-jacketed waiters…but save it for a special occasion. 

The bill adds up very quickly. The newer CBD “Cittá” location offers overlapping dishes in a unique and architecturally acclaimed gallery-like space. 

Think of Cittá as expressing the brutalist yet cosmopolitan high-fashion world of Milan, and the St Kilda location, as offering the enchanting and timeless beauty of Rome.

Address: 31 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda

Caffé e Cucina

Caffé e Cucina opened its doors in 1988, the same year as Di Stasio. The low-lit interior clad with vintage prints is as cosy and warm as its traditional menu offering. The Vitello Alla Milanese is as big as your head, and the tiramisu is perfect in all its glory. 

Grab one of the coveted curbside spots for guaranteed entertainment. If it’s not the Italian waiters who add theatre and drama to your meal, it’ll be the colourful Chapel Street characters that pass you by.

Address: 581 Chapel Street, South Yarra

italian restaurants (2)

Zia Rina’s Cucina

If you’re looking for a trattoria dishing up Italian fare with its whole heart, Zia Rina hands-down deserves a spot on our list of the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne. The intimate space offers a rotating set menu based on the best seasonal produce sourced from the Mornington Peninsula. 

Don’t be fooled by the concise menu. The price is bang on for the quality and quantity served. Choosing from local or Italian wines (or BYO) makes it a very attractive date night option.

Address: 857 High St, Armadale

Rita’s

Rita’s is always a reliable and consistently tasty option for any night of the week. At Rita’s, the semolina-encrusted Prieta is an always reliable and consistently tasty option for any night of the week. At Rita’s, it’s the semolina-encrusted pizzas that are the real heroes. The three founders, and best mates, opened an offshoot next door to meet the takeaway pizza demand. 

Be sure to order a Bingo Bango; tomato, mozzarella, salami, pancetta, caramelised onion and olives, as well as the Potato; garlic base, mozzarella, caramelised onion, taleggio, rosemary, truffle oil.

Address: 239 Johnston St, Abbotsford

Capitano

It’s crazy to think the ex-Attica, Bar Liberty crew (which copped Best Bar in Australia) only added Capitano to their inventory in 2018. It has become an institution in record time. Capitano is just an overall great vibe. It offers round and square pizza inspired by New-York Italian cuisine. 

You’ll want to try everything on the menu, which makes Capitano perfect for a small group. Don’t leave without sampling the Vodka sauce Rigatoni, the Herb Salad Pizza, and the ‘Roni squared with tomato, pepperoni, mozzarella and pickled chilli. Be sure to wash it all down with a Negroni if you want the full Italian dining experience.

This is a good time for a Yank-Italian diner slinging pizza, pasta and meatballs, but as imagined by some of the top food and drink minds in the business. 

What that means for you, the diner is clam spaghetti with serious depth, excellent blistery pizzas topped with top-shelf small and vegetables (broad bean leaves and garlicky cream, perhaps) and a premium bone-in veal parma, sourced from boutique butcher Meatsmith, drowning in lobes of fresh mozzarella and a clean Napoli sauce. Take it with an olive oil martini or the juicy barbera made just for them.

Address: 421 Rathdowne Street, Carlton

Bar Idda

If you’re trying to find the best Sicilian family secrets outside of Sicily – look no further than Bar Idda. Reflective of its hipster neighbourhood, the interior is rustic, and the cooking is completely unpretentious and utterly delicious. 

Credit goes to the Milinciani; baked layered eggplant, passata, buffalo mozzarella, basil, pecorino, as well as the Maccaruni; twirled pasta, slow-cooked beef & pork ragu, grated pecorino. The set menu at $50 per person is a complete steal.

Address: 132 Lygon St, Brunswick East

Umberto Espresso Bar

This Thornbury Calabrian-inspired father-son duo treats you to breakfast, lunch and dinner in a delightfully ’70s trattoria. And we’re talking traditional Italian breakfast as it should be; filled cornetti and Genovese coffee. However, Umberto’s is getting a massive makeover, moving to a new three-storey home in a 100-year-old building with a rooftop! 

Yet, as exciting as the new digs will be, it’s the old favourites that have kept customers returning for over ten years, most notably the classic pasta con Funghi, slow-cooked osso buco and delicious rotating panini’s.

Address: 917 High St, Thornbury

Florentino 

CBD

A Bourke Street stalwart run by legendary Melbourne chef Guy Grossi, Florentino always deserves to be on the best Italian restaurant in Melbourne list. The location itself has been running as a restaurant since 1928 and has had a bit of a spruce up over the years. 

The perfect spot for any special occasion, order the ‘Grand Tour’—a five-course set menu that can be matched with local and international wines to cap off the perfect evening.

DOC

CARLTON, SOUTHBANK & MORNINGTON

At D.O.C, you’ll get the full experience; an all-Italian team is a well-oiled machine, weaving in out of tables and directing the endless flow of diners that walk through the door. 

Home to some of the best pizza in Melbourne, D.O.C references the Italian-food grading system, and accordingly, they utilise the best of the best ingredients. If you’re vibing a slice, you can also head to the pasta-dedicated store on Lygon Street or go plant-based with Bio-By DOC. 

Scopri 

CARLTON

There is very, very little to dislike about Scopri, from the impeccable dishes to the sumptuous Italian wines. The dimly lit interior is cosy and stylish, perfect for a third date or that long-overdue catch-up. 

Dig into the Tagliolini with local rock lobster, cherry tomato and saffron or the Galletto-Alla-Griglia, chargrilled spatchcock, baby leeks and local mushroom. If you’re starving, just let the sweet peeps at Scopri pick their best dishes for you with their ‘Feed The Table’ menu for $90pp. Heaven

Baby Pizza 

RICHMOND

A pillar of the LUCAS Groups restaurant empire, BABY Pizza, and its red neon-lit restaurant has established itself as one of the best Italian restaurants Melbourne has on offer. The modern and chic eatery is constantly playing host to events, from Aperitivos to Degustations. 

The menu has a fine selection of Italian favourites, including an absolute belter of a meatball pizza, the ‘Polpette’ with Fior di latte, meatballs, chilli, pecorino and basil is always a great decision. Baby is all about fun. It’s a celebration of Italian cuisine and the joy that it conjures. Whether for a quick feed or a night out, it’s always one to keep in mind.

The Waiters Restaurant 

CBD

One of the most Melburnian experiences; there’s nothing quite sitting elbow to elbow in the upstairs diner over a couple of glasses of house red and tucking into the homestyle pasta. 

Purveyors of the simplicity and deliciousness of Italian cuisine, Waiters Restaurant is a strong contender for the best Italian restaurant for cost efficiency, with well-priced dishes of rigatoni and penne and bottles of regional drops from Tuscany and Piedemonte. With wooden tables and white walls adorned with Italian artwork and the space plays host to some truly superb food, and the atmosphere here is second to none. 

italian restaurants

Cecconi's

CBD

Flinders Lane hosts many great restaurants, and the bustling Italian basement known as Cecconi's is no exception. They boast some of the best wait-staff in Melbourne, whose charm and knowledge of wine and food is second to none, Cecconi's dishes up mouth-watering modern Italian cuisine in a comfortable and elegant dining space.

TOORAK

Sitting in prime real estate on Grange Road in Toorak, Via Torino is a gem of an Italian restaurant and a go-to for the southside area of Melbourne. The patterned stain-glass shop front opens up into an inviting space of white walls, dark polished timber tables and Italian ceramics and iconography throughout. 

With a strong focus on pairing Italian wine with their diverse regional dishes, Via Torino plates up lesser-known dishes like Sarde Fritte, buttered fried sardines with salsa verde and Capocollo, an apple glazed slow-cooked pork neck; you can expect to try something a little more daring in this Italian locale. 

Di Stasio Citta

Starting off our list of the best Italian restaurants in Melbourne is Di Stasio Citta. Sibling restaurant of Café Di Stasio, the staff at Di Stasio Citta invite you to relax, drink and share stories over delicious servings of Italian cuisine. With handmade pasta across the menu, you can’t go wrong.

The sequel to Ronnie Di Stasio's spaghetti-slinging, Barolo-pouring St Kilda landmark has landed, and true to the nature of its art-loving provocateur owner, it's going to push buttons you didn't know you had. 

The raging red of its puffy chairs and rosary necklaces on smoked waitresses, plus the constant motion of video artworks, heat the blood, so you suddenly consider dropping crazy money on the biblical wine list. 

But then comes the soothing: the cool marble bar where Di Stasio's classic fluffy, buttery schnitzel sandwich in foil, twirls of lemony crab linguine, plush veal napped in silken tomato sauce meet new essentials. Sage-wrapped anchovies in spindly batter fight for best bar snack around – ditto rainbow vegetables in a garlicky bagna cauda.

Address: 35 Spring Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Emilia

Emilia is great for that lunchtime escape from the office (if you’re not too full to work afterwards). 

With bolognese that’s freshly made daily, as well as spinach and ricotta ravioli, you’ll be having some of the best Italian Melbourne has to offer. Just be sure to watch out for sauce stains on your shirt.

Address: 360 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Bar Carolina

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 (more of them to come), you’ll find some of the best Italian steak and fish in Melbourne on the menu.

Sleek and slim as its South Yarra clientele, Carolina occupies a narrow corner site just a minute's totter in Ferragamo heels from another neighbourhood clubhouse, the long-established France-Soir. 

Don't want your boyfriend, banker or babysitter to spy you lunching on lightly grilled zucchini with avocado and almonds? Head for the darkly glamorous two-tops opposite the charcoal-coloured bar. 

Yet you don't need to be regular to be greeted with genuine brio, to enjoy the casual polish of a waiter silver-serving rich pork Rotolo at the table or the availability of both quality tap wines and top-shelf Barolo.

And, as the name suggests, there’s also a bar at Bar Carolina for all your wine and cocktail needs.

Address: 44 Toorak Road, South Yarra 3141

Caterina's Cucina and Bar

The loyalty runs deep here at this 23-year-old lunch-only Italian run by Caterina. And it's not hard to see why. The all-woman, mostly Italian team, commands the room with so much confidence it's little wonder that Melbourne's power players come here to relax. 

Rusted-on diners order by saying, "you know what I like". First time? Don't panic. Rattling off the daily specials at speed is this restaurant's party trick. 

You pretty much can't lose, whether it's an expertly bronzed pork chop or rabbit loin rolled in hazelnut. To drink, there's mortgage-your-warehouse Barolo alongside fun stuff from By Farr.

  • Go-to dish: Vitello tonnato, the stuff of legend, and cross your fingers for a nip of Borsato's nonna's grappa.
  • Basement, 221 Queen Street

Grossi Florentino

To cross the landing of Bourke Street's bastion of fine dining is to enter a world of timber panelling, elegant murals, ironed linen and courtly service. More than half of the wines by the glass are $30 and up, and three courses cost $150. 

But for your money, you get many shiny bells and bright whistles: crisp pastry cones of Russian potato salad or eel tortellini in soul-soothing brodo as appetisers. 

They set the scene well for entrees such as roast quail, perfectly autumnal with apple, persimmon and fregola warmed with 'nduja. A line of veal and pancetta stuffing threaded through airy gnocchi speaks to the kitchen's inventive streak.

  • Go-to dish: When the offer of the cheese cart comes, take it.
  • 80 Bourke Street, Melbourne

FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants

You’re going to want to veer off to Little Bourke Street instead, which is where you’ll find Tipo 00.

You can head along to Pentolina, which serves some great fresh pasta on Little Collins st.

The same could be said for the total Australian population of Italian ancestry, with 279,112 of the 916,121 (30.4%) listed as Melbournian residents, the highest Italian population in Australia and the Oceanic continent per city.

The number of Italy-born Victorians peaked at 121,000 in 1971. Italian immigration then declined, but Italians are still the fifth-largest immigrant community in Victoria after the English community, with 70,532 Italy-born people recorded in the 2016 census.

Know that pasta can be an everyday occurrence.

According to survey data by YouGov and Bertolli, 90% of Italians eat pasta multiple times a week, while only 23% of Americans eat pasta more than once a week. Better yet, about 25% of Italians eat pasta every day, while only 2% of Americans fessed up to eating pasta daily.

Conclusion

Melbourne will never hit a pasta drought. This month alone, two new heavy-hitting Italians have come swaggering onto the scene, marble bars buffed. Agostino Wine Bar from the King and Godfree team has finally arrived, and the crab and prawn spaghettini was worth the wait. 

Lagotto brings all-day Italian dining and custard-filled doughnuts to Fitzroy North under the team's stewardship behind Congress wine bar. But the well of greats is deep, and the winter is long. Spend it sated and sedated at our old and new favourites.

Resources:

10 of our favourite Melbourne Italian restaurants

Best Italian Restaurants in Melbourne

29 Best Italian Restaurants in Melbourne

The 10 Best Italian Restaurants In Melbourne [2021 Guide]

The Top 10 Italian Restaurants In Melbourne According To You

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