While it's no secret that Carlton is home to some of Melbourne's finest Italian eateries, you may be surprised to learn that the neighbourhood is actually much more culturally diverse than you might have guessed. A wide variety of cuisines, from hearty Italian to high-quality Japanese, and everything in between, can be sampled in Carlton.
The best restaurants in Carlton can be found along Lygon Street, not far from where it meets Elgin. Some of the best Italian restaurants in all of Melbourne can be found along this stretch of Lygon Street, which begins in the city's north and continues all the way south to Victoria Parade.
Our favourite restaurants in this city are almost exclusively Italian, with a few notable exceptions including Epocha and Abla's, a Lebanese institution that has been serving food since 1979.
Now that we've found and tried all of Carlton's best eateries, it's up to you to decide where to eat, whether you live in or are just passing through this little slice of culinary paradise.
Top Restaurants In Carlton, Melbourne
Carlton, also known as Little Italy, is home to some of Melbourne's finest eateries. Carlton is perfect for any occasion: a romantic evening out, a family dinner, a leisurely lunch, or even just a quick bite to eat.
The Carlton Wine Room reopened in February of 2018 after closing for two months to undergo renovations. Co-owner Andrew Joy, formerly the manager at Marion, and chef John Paul Twomey, formerly the founding head chef at Cutler & Co., the development chef for the McConnell group, and the head chef at Gilson in South Yarra, have moved into the historic 19th-century building. The building can be found at the intersection of the tree-lined streets of Drummond and Faraday.
In the middle of the high-ceilinged room is a marble bar, and behind it, instead of liquor bottles, are rows upon rows of backlit glassware. In the middle of the space, there is an oval table for group meetings.
Because there are a total of five tiers to this structure, the area feels much smaller than it actually is. In addition to the main dining room, the second floor also features a sizable secondary dining area. You can keep going up until you reach two separate private event spaces, each taking up an entire floor. A bluestone basement is now a private dining room for up to twenty people.
The menu offers a posh take on modern Australian fare that takes cues from European cooking styles, is attuned to the seasons, and goes down well with wine. Monochromatic kingfish crudo consists of raw fish sliced thickly and served atop a creme fraiche smear, with rough slivers of napa cabbage and shaved horseradish for garnish.
Shaved ingredients make a comeback in a dish of grilled broccolini topped with cured egg yolk shavings, fat lardons of bacon, and a parmesan, cream, and egg yolk sauce. Plus, there's a half roast chicken that's as delicious as it is beautiful. It comes with large raw sorrel leaves that have been laid out flat, confited rounds of potato, and a squeeze of lemon on the side, and is served on a mousse-like aioli.
Coda and Tonka's 100-bottle wine list was curated by Travis Howe, a former sommelier and now co-owner of the business. Any genre or geographical origin can be found represented on the list.
A large selection of French champagne is featured on the list of drinks. The whites section spends an entire page on Italy, while the reds section devotes considerable space to Germany, Austria, and Slovenia. In addition, the group opens a new "staff bottle" every day. Not listed, but feel free to enquire about it if you're curious.
Husband-and-wife team Saori and Kazuki Tsuya own and operate Kazuki's. The upscale European and Japanese restaurant was previously located in Daylesford, Victoria, but moved to Lygon Street in 2018. Over the course of the week, you can choose from two, three, five, or seven courses of small plates that showcase a single ingredient and are subtly elevated by a few small accompaniments; on the weekends, you'll only be able to order five or seven courses.
Buttery sake and ponzu are combined to create a sauce that is drizzled over a Moreton Bay bug dumpling. And pomelo and crisp fish skin atop lightly cured kingfish dressed with white soy sauce and buttermilk. Along with radicchio, blackberries, and shiitake mushrooms, this dish features a freshly prepared cut of aged duck. This house-made sourdough is perfect, and the black seaweed butter is the perfect complement.
Toss in some snacks for a buck apiece. Pipi is served raw in its shell with a salty and tangy sauce made from soy sauce and ginger. To balance the heaviness of the chicken liver that has been piped into a savoury choux pastry, a gel made from plums and umeshu is used. Italian charcoal imported from the United States is used to create the exquisite tableware.
There are a total of 22 pages dedicated to the extensive wine, sake, and spirit list. Several wines by the glass are available for $15, but a decent wine list will set you back well over $200.
Well-known producers sit alongside more out-there musicians on this list. A wide variety of Japanese whiskies, from Suntory's 18-year Yamazaki single malt to Nikka from the Barrel, are also available. Hand-blown glasses are used to serve the sake.
The Tsuyas are a completely different family now that the interior has been remodelled. High ceilings, muted gray-blue tones, and subdued lighting give the moody 30-seat room the feel of a very zen friend's living room.
Hellenic Republic's co-owner, Angie Giannakodakis, is one of the dying breed of old-school professionals whose genuineness and kindness are palpable the moment you meet them. She is renowned for both her legendary hospitality and her extensive knowledge of Greek and old world wines. It's common knowledge that Angie Giannakodakis is a living legend in the hospitality business.
Guy Holder, a British expat, has joined the Epocha team and brings with him an equally impressive background in fine dining, having worked at The Press Club, Rockpool, and Greg Malouf's MoMo. The two of them exude the intangible spirit of genuine service, which is characterised by endearing informality, pinpoint accuracy in attention to detail, and impeccable timing.
Brooke Payne, as executive chef, and Alex Drobysz, as head chef, are responsible for overseeing the restaurant's primarily European menu. Dishes are meant to be shared and have humble beginnings; the menu features dishes with Greek and English influences as well as a good selection of classic French dishes (think charcuterie and serious cheeses). The wine list is concise and European-focused, with an accent on biodynamic and boutique producers with less name recognition. The wine list is extensive and well-curated.
The two-story Victorian terrace, originally built in 1884, has been painstakingly restored to its 1884 appearance, right down to the original high ceilings, tall windows, and roomy proportions. The downstairs dining room has an ambience that is at once grand, sultry, and homey and rustic. Hannah's Bar is the perfect spot for after-work drinks and a game of backgammon on the second floor.
Anthony Scutella and Alison Foley run a fantastic restaurant on Nicholson Street in Carlton, and it reflects the couple's shared love of fine Italian fare and vino.
While on their travels, the two stumbled upon Italy's Piemonte region and were instantly and permanently won over by the region's food and wine. Since then, thanks to the efforts of chef Salvatore Caccioppoli, regional cuisine has gained prominence in Melbourne's eating scene.
An extensive wine list complements the dishes on the menu; the bottles of Barbaresco and Barolo imported from Piedmont stand out. Wines from other Italian wine regions and popular drinks from a region a little closer to home are also available.
Don't let the sleek decor and modern white tablecloths fool you. Scopri is perfect for a romantic evening or a special celebration thanks to its cosy ambience.
The first Covid-19 lockdowns in Australia led to the dismissal of Andrea Vignali, a world-renowned chef born in Italy who was working as a sous chef at Florentino, a Melbourne restaurant. It wasn't long after that when Vignali, from the comfort of his own humble apartment kitchen, launched a pasta delivery service called Al Dente, which quickly became one of Melbourne's most popular takeaway options.
With the opening of Al Dente Enoteca in 2021, Vignali and his roommate Davide Bonadiman—who had previously worked as a chef at Florentino—secured Al Dente's continued success with a wine bar, shop, and restaurant all under one roof. The menu at Al Dente changes weekly, with the exception of the spanner crab ravioli, which is always available because it is a fan favourite.
One other dish that really stands out is the tortellini with roast duck and artichoke filling that is topped with artichoke cubes that have been pan-fried in duck fat. At the table, you can pour the rich duck jus, which is made from duck bones, over your meal. Cacio e Pepe, a sauce made of cheese and pepper, is often served with tortellini.
Former MoVida Aqui manager Iain Ling and his wife Stella purchased the landmark Carlton pub in late 2014 but made only minor cosmetic changes.
However, Lincoln does not follow conventional practises, so even the most fundamental aspects of the experience, such as the menu, will be different for you. To achieve this, Chef Lachlan Cameron of MoVida Aqui and Supernormal employs unusual flavour combinations.
You'll be served a second round of food after you finish the appetisers, which might have included pork crackling, edamame, and kelp salt. Pork schnitzel with tonkatsu sauce, or spatchcock with an apple served whole. Since the menu changes with the seasons, it's not at all like the food you'd find in a standard bar.
The drinks' nontraditional character remains intact. The wine list is organised with descriptive headings like "lean," "deep," and "aromatic," which give you an idea of what to expect from the bottles that follow.
Even better, there are plenty of locally produced bottles, as well as imported options from countries like Germany (try riesling) and Spain (try trenzado and Mencia, for example). While craft beer is becoming increasingly common in restaurants and bars, The Lincoln's selection of interesting brews sets it apart.
The World Famous Pizza Parlor Owned by Leonardo
This building was formerly occupied by Da Salvatore Pizza by the Metre, which opened in 1959. Some of those pieces of history are still around today.
The front bar, which is lit up with neon Coors Light branding, is where you'll find the DJ spinning tunes by artists like Journey, Johnny Cash, and No Zu. The brick archway is just one of several such structures. When you visit this bar, the bartenders in beanies will serve you quickly as you order a longneck of Melbourne beer, a bottle of minimal intervention wine, and some crostini.
The dining room, which is more like a den than a restaurant, serves authentic Italian cuisine. Closed window shutters make it seem like nighttime inside even if it's daylight outside. In the foreground, one can make out the sounds of yelling and laughter coming from the main bar area. You could easily lose track of time and get much dirtier than you had planned to be when you first arrived.
Every time I come here, it seems like there are a hundred people waiting to get in. Reservations can be made over the phone, which is good news. Fast-paced waiters scoot across red carpets and between leather-clad booths. We can see the original owner, Salvatore Mercogliano, in the faded photos of him making pizza in the 1970s that adorn the walls. There are also vintage black and white photographs of the Beatles, Marylin Monroe, and other bombshells from the era enjoying a pasta dish.
An additional arched opening can be found at the restaurant's back wall, framing the chef as they serve up dishes like the restaurant's famous eight-slice pepperoni pizzas with little cups of ranch dressing "for dipping."
In addition to housemade pizza and pasta, the kitchen also creates shareable and approachable dishes that are ideal for the night's start because they encourage a lively atmosphere. (The coasters are printed with the phrase "drink and dine" backwards.) You can start off with some salt and vinegar marinated jalapenos, or you can try some fried sardines topped with whipped bottarga and served on paper-thin crostini.
An outstanding dish is a sugar-snap pea salad with charred broccolini, almonds, and macadamia nuts topped with shaved pecorino and macadamia cream. But the chicken schnitzel stands head and shoulders above the rest. Garlic butter and capers are piled high on top to create a disconformal, deep gold presentation.
Wine is an integral part of the atmosphere at Bar Liberty. Capitano's list is smaller and more selective than Liberty's, including only those winemakers who "don't muck around too much" with their wines. Close to ninety-five percent are either produced entirely in Italy or use Italian grapes as their primary ingredient. Red wines are light, loaded with acidity, and have bright fruit flavours that pair well with tomato-based sauces, whereas white wines are textural, weighty, and savoury.
This calls for cocktail time. The comfort of our patrons is of the utmost importance to us here at Bar Liberty (most are pre-batched but more technical). This list revives the practise of shaking and stirring in the theatre. The piece is written in a very conventional style (limoncello spritz, grapefruit Americano). Camomile, saffron, orange, and amaro are commonplace, and their bitter and sour flavours predominate. The grapefruit granita Campari float is an option for dessert.
Comfortable furnishings in maroon and ivory create a warm atmosphere. Art Deco light fixtures illuminate the bare and clothed wooden tables, bentwood chairs, and banquette seating, while also setting the mood for a sensual evening. The Italian discos played here were curated by Sam Rogers, who previously worked as a music producer in Berlin and now oversees front-of-house operations.
One of the co-owners of Taquito is Alec Villarreal, who was born and raised in Mexico City before relocating to Melbourne. It can be found in the Carlton neighbourhood, on a quiet stretch of Drummond Street. Guests can choose from three unique restaurants and bars at this location. It's possible that, during the warmer months, the outside tables will be more popular than the inside ones. After all, eating tacos while sitting outside is a great experience.
You can go one of two ways once you're inside. The front room also has a bar with mostly stool seating, for those who prefer a less formal atmosphere. All the windows that look out onto the street make for a very light and airy space. There is a bottle shop tucked away in one of the rooms, and it is the best place in Melbourne (and the only place) to buy obscure bottles of tequila and mezcal to enjoy later.
It's also possible to eat in the downstairs dining hall. Subtle Mexican touches can be found everywhere, from the cacti and monstera leaves to the fabric used to cover the booth seats. The open layout, high ceilings, and proximity to the kitchen all contribute to a relaxing atmosphere.
Paul Clarke, formerly of Mesa Verde and now a co-owner, is the man in charge of the kitchen and one of the two men who own the business. We suggest the taco sampler with a side salad if you're on the lighter side. Tacos are made in a DIY fashion with a pot of beef short rib birria (spicy stew) and a stack of tortillas.
Also reasonably priced is the "feed-me" option, which includes six courses. Taquito makes all of its tortillas in-house and grows its own authentic Mexican ingredients like epazote (an aromatic herb)
Taquito produces a variety of products, including horchata (a sweet rice milk and cinnamon drink). Seasonally-adapted drink selections give equal weight to both Australian winemakers and Mexican spirit producers like Tequila Tromba, for those who prefer their libations with a bit more of a kick.
FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants
Some of the more popular European Restaurants in Carlton, according to TheFork users, include Paris Go, Aperitivo Bar Ristorante, and Little Lygon. Discover all restaurants: European restaurants near Carlton.
Carlton is probably one of the Best Inner-City Suburbs in Melbourne! Lots of Designer Brand Shops, Cafes, Restaurants & Cinemas! & is also walking distance from the Victoria Markets, Melbourne University IMAX, & the Shopping Malls at the Melbourne CBD (e.g. Melbourne Central, QV etc.).
Carlton is known nationwide for its Little Italy precinct centred on Lygon Street, for its preponderance of 19th-century Victorian architecture and its garden squares, including the Carlton Gardens, the latter being the location of the Royal Exhibition Building, one of Australia's few artificial sites with World Heritage.
Carlton is a suburb in southern Sydney, in New South Wales, Australia. Carlton is located 15 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district and is part of the St George area. Carlton lies across two local government areas, the Georges River Council and the Bayside Council.
Some of Melbourne's best restaurants can be found in Carlton, which is also known as Little Italy. Almost without exception, the best Carlton eateries serve Italian cuisine. After being closed for two months to get renovated, the Carlton Wine Room reopened in February of 2018. Modern Australian cuisine is given a European twist at the upscale Kazuki's restaurant. Kingfish crudo is a monochromatic dish consisting of thinly sliced raw fish atop a dollop of creme fraiche.
Retired sommelier Travis Howe compiled the wine list of one hundred bottles. After the renovation, the Tsuyas look like an entirely new clan. The wine list is brief and focuses on European selections, with a focus on biodynamic and small-batch manufacturers. Many traditional French dishes are offered alongside those with Greek and English influences. When you get off work, stop by Hannah's Bar for a drink and a game of backgammon.
Indulge in a romantic evening or commemorate a special occasion at Scopri. In addition to serving as a wine bar and retail shop, Al Dente Enoteca also serves as a restaurant. In 1959, Da Salvatore Pizza by the Metre first opened its doors on Lincoln. MoVida Aqui and Supernormal's Chef Lachlan Cameron is known for his use of unexpected flavour combinations. Lean, deep, and aromatic are just some of the categories on the wine list.
Atmosphere-wise, CapitanoWine is a big deal at Bar Liberty. Almost all of their wines, around 95%, are either made entirely in Italy or use Italian grapes as their primary ingredient. Little cups of ranch dressing are provided "for dipping" with the restaurant's signature eight-slice pepperoni pizzas. The bottle shop is the best place in Melbourne to purchase rare bottles of tequila and mezcal, and the restaurant makes its own tortillas from scratch using local ingredients like epazote (an aromatic herb).
- It's no secret that Carlton is home to some of Melbourne's finest Italian restaurants, but you might be surprised to learn that the area is home to a much more diverse cultural population than you might have imagined.
- Carlton is home to a wide selection of restaurants serving up everything from authentic Italian to top-notch sushi and everything in between.
- Lygon Street, between Fitzroy and Elgin, is where you will find most of Carlton's finest dining options.
- Value of Restaurants Going for it in Melbourne's Carlton Some of Melbourne's best restaurants can be found in Carlton, which is also known as Little Italy.
- After being closed for two months to get renovated, the Carlton Wine Room reopened in February of 2018.
- Elegant, seasonally appropriate, and wine-friendly, the menu features a sophisticated take on contemporary Australian cuisine that draws inspiration from European cooking techniques.
- Travis Howe, a former sommelier and now co-owner of Coda and Tonka, compiled the restaurant's extensive wine list of 100 bottles.
- The husband-and-wife team of Saori and Kazuki Tsuya are the owners and operators of Kazuki's.
- Originally located in Daylesford, Victoria, the upscale European and Japanese restaurant relocated to Lygon Street in 2018.
- The extensive wine, sake, and spirit list spans a whopping 22 pages.
- There are a few $15 glass pours, but a good wine list will run you at least $200.
- Prominent producers share the bill with more experimental artists.
- Hellenic Republic, belongs to that rare but endearing breed of professionals whose warmth and sincerity are immediately apparent.
- Angie Giannakodakis' status as a hospitality industry icon is well-established.
- The 1884 Victorian terrace has been meticulously restored to its original state, right down to the original high ceilings, tall windows, and spacious proportions.
- Located on Carlton's Nicholson Street, Anthony Scutella and Alison Foley's excellent restaurant is a reflection of the couple's passion for authentic Italian cuisine and wine.
- It's an Enoteca, and they make everything to order, including the wine.
- In 2021, Vignali and his roommate Davide Bonadiman, formerly a chef at Florentino, opened Al Dente Enoteca, a wine bar, shop, and restaurant all in one.
- The menu at Al Dente is updated every week, but the spanner crab ravioli is a staple item due to its popularity.
- Iain Ling, formerly of MoVida Aqui, and his wife Stella bought the historic Carlton pub in late 2014, but they have made only superficial renovations to it.
- Chef Lachlan Cameron of MoVida Aqui and Supernormal uses unconventional flavour combinations to achieve this effect.
- It's not like you'd find bar food here because the menu is seasonal and adapts to the changing weather.
- The Lincoln's interesting beer selection distinguishes it from other establishments in a city where craft beer is becoming more widely available.
- Authentic Italian fare is served in the dining room, which is more of a cosy lounge than a formal restaurant.
- There are old, faded photos of the original owner, Salvatore Mercogliano, behind the pizza oven.
- Kitchen specialities include homemade pizza and pasta, as well as other shareable and approachable dishes that set the tone for a fun and energetic evening. CapitanoWine plays a big role in creating the ambience at Bar Liberty.
- Enjoying a plate of tacos in the fresh air is a wonderful pastime in and of itself.
- Taquito produces its own epazote and grows its own tortillas, giving it a distinct taste and authenticity (an aromatic herb)
- Horchata is just one of the many tasty treats that Taquito manufactures (a sweet rice milk and cinnamon drink).