The Best Italian Restaurants in Melbourne

Updated 1 month ago

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There’s no denying Melbourne hospitality’s strong Italian accent. Institutions like Grossi Florentino and The Waiters Restaurant set the table early, opening their doors in the first half of last century. While the post-World War Two immigration boom helped to accelerate the cuisine’s popularity here, there’s more to our Italian bent than regional pastas and Napoli-accredited pizzas. It’s the commitment to using high-quality ingredients, allowing seasonality to shine through simple preparations, and of course, service with old-school charm.

Whether they’re longstanding institutions or future classics with contemporary edge, Melbourne’s best Italian joints are bound by another notable European import: a respect for food as the great unifier. Gather your favourite people and book a meal at one of these spots, curated by Broadsheet’s expert food and drink editors.

  • The CBD sequel to restaurateur Rinaldo Di Stasio's St Kilda institution goes just as heavy on the hand-made pastas. But it also throws high art into the mix, with video installations and dramatic artworks lining the walls of the restaurant’s brutalist, contemporary interior.

  • There aren’t many Melbourne restaurants left where they’ll open the door for you, pull out your chair and fold a napkin on your lap. Impeccable service is a fine backdrop to a three-course meal of traditional Italian decadence.

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  • After all these years, moody Tipo 00 still attracts queues of people hoping for a taste of its simple yet meticulously assembled pastas. A couple of secondi and dolci also grace the menu, alongside salumi best enjoyed at the marble bar, spritz in hand. Make sure you arrive early – very early – if you don’t have a booking.

  • Tipo 00’s younger sibling stretches beyond the pasta bar concept with meat and seafood dishes straight out of a modern Italian osteria. An enormous cellar below stocks Italian necessities like wine and house-cured charcuterie.

  • Inspired by Italy’s Piedmont region, the Scopri team plates up house-made pastas and heavy-hitting secondi such as kid goat cooked on the bone. Don’t be fooled by the starchy white tablecloths – there’s nothing but a friendly, welcoming vibe at this Carlton classic.

  • This fun Italian joint, from Bar Liberty’s crew, takes plenty of cues from North America – with deep-dish pizza “squares” and rich, fermented base “rounds”. While the US gets a big look-in, the wine list is almost entirely Italian.

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  • Originally a lockdown pasta delivery service by a stood-down chef, this swish spot doubles as a restaurant and locally focused wine bar. Come for signature tortellini, sterling seafood and classic Italian desserts in a chic neighbourhood dining room.

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  • Housed in a 19th-century building, this spot freshly extrudes pasta shapes such as rigatoni and bucatini in-house – an expensive process rarely seen in restaurant kitchens. Try them in the cosy dining room, or pull up at the parklet.

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  • The owners at this sleek osteria show their Italian roots with varieties of filled pasta that hail from the Lombardy region in Italy’s north – where the owners are from. In a nod to their second home Down Under, there’s a big focus on local produce and a wine list featuring all-Australian drops.

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  • A cosy wine bar with quality pasta, hard-to-find wines and waiters clad head-to-toe in white Japanese denim. Set within an iconic heritage building, this place is a Melbourne interpretation of a classic Italian enoteca.

  • Look for the lush olive-green facade on Prahan’s High Street to find this handsome restaurant and bar. Inside, a dedicated “pasta lab” produces all shapes and sizes, with a big emphasis on egg-based pastas specific to northern Italy. The wine list includes a handful of Italian varietals produced here in Victoria.

  • White-jacketed waiters delivering discreet, attentive service and a consistently excellent menu have made Rinaldo Di Stasio's intimate dining room a pilgrimage for lovers of fine Italian food. The seasonal set menu is an excellent way to dive in.

  • Choose your own adventure at this cosy underground institution. If you fancy casual Italian dining, pull up a table in the cafeteria opposite the bar. For a more refined atmosphere, make your way to the dimly lit trattoria lined with bottles of vino.

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  • Venetian elegance, New York energy and Melbourne nostalgia collide at restaurateur Chris Lucas’s lavish brasserie and grill. Settle into the grand dining room for charcoal-fired bistecca, show-stopping tiramisu, quintessentially Italian cocktails and lots of tableside theatrics.

  • Sip Martinis while overlooking 360-degree views of Melbourne, indulge in classic pizzas and pillowy house-made gnocchi or descend into the neon-lit basement for a signature late-night cheeseburger.

  • Taking cues from the trattorias of northern Italy, Emilia has you covered for all occasions. Do a casual lunch of tagliatelle alla bolognaise, or come later for a degustation featuring main dishes inspired by Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. It all comes together in a rustic, timber-clad space.

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  • A tribute to the owner’s Calabrian-born father, Umberto plates up cucina casalinga homestyle cooking and classic Italian aperitivi in a former shoe shop. It’s also home to Gigi, a rooftop bar where you can sip a Negroni with one-of-a-kind views.

  • The tables at Bottega spill out onto the footpath much like they would in Rome or Florence, luring in passers-by with an energetic atmosphere. Mains usually feature produce from owner Denis Lucey’s farm, while an expertly curated wine list offers around 150 bottles from both Australia and Italy.

  • At this CBD stalwart, you'll find old-school service, a lengthy wine list and plenty of classic Italian charm. Dishes here have a Venetian focus, and include a zucchini risotto plus a signature Moreton Bay bug spaghettini. For drinks, opt for a classic Bellini or a parmesan-infused Martini.

  • When veteran restaurateur Rinaldo Di Stasio started serving pizza for the first time, people duly took notice. Come for classic Margheritas and luxurious lobster pies in a colourful, artwork-filled space.

  • Left-of-centre pizzas are the draw at this big, industrial-chic room from the Tipo 00 and Osteria Ilaria crew. Post up at the central bar for snacks and natural wines, or share bistecca and nebbiolo at a bistro-style table.

  • The relaxed diner – inspired by the intimate trattorias in Italy's northwest – specialises in cuisine and wine from Piedmont. Go for vitello tonnato, steak tartare and the region's two signature pastas. Plus, choose from an encyclopaedic leather-bound wine list of barolo, dolcetto, and more.

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  • Some places like to keep it simple: breakfast all day, coffee with full-cream milk and spaghetti with Napoli sauce. That’s exactly what you get at Marios. It’s as unpretentious as an Italian joint gets, with a neon-red sign that’s been buzzing day and night since 1986.

  • A strong player in the city’s crop of sharp, contemporary Italian joints. Find classic dishes with subtle twists, and a wine list that picks from the country’s premier growing regions. The commanding terrazzo bar is the best place to take it all in.

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  • The retro feel – complete with macramé and terracotta accents – is part of what makes this classic CBD bistro so great. But it’s the crowd-pleasing menu of pizza, pasta and secondi that keeps diners coming back for all manner of occasions.

  • Named for its dough’s 48-hour rise time (and officially recognised as one of Oceania’s best pizzerias), the menu here runs the gamut of classic and modern pies with notable vegan alternatives. The eponymous gnocchi is made small, “della nonna” style, and completely gluten-free.

  • Luxury and tradition collide at Cecconi’s, where Venetian food is the star of the show. The kitchen grows its own herbs, fruit and vegetables to use across the board, be it a seasonal risotto or garlicky seafood linguine.

  • The prefix for an international call to Italy is a fitting name for this tiny pizzeria (with big European energy). There’s enough pizza variety to satisfy any aficionado and an extensive antipasti selection, if you’re so inclined.

  • A farm on the Mornington Peninsula informs the degustation at Zia Rina’s, a rustic, candle-lit trattoria that celebrates the seasons with each lovingly prepared course. To drink, it’s southern Italian wines with a big focus on Sicilian winemakers.

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  • Inside a former ice-cream store, this little slice of Venice is big on protein – woodfired in a Josper oven imported from Spain. But if you’re feeling pastas, varieties such as tagliolini and pappardelle are rolled in-house. It’s all served in a terrazzo-and-timber space that’s casual and contemporary at once.

  • A cosy, familial Italian restaurant where the menu changes every week. Enjoy oysters, hand-rolled pasta and creative seafood dishes alongside wines from Australia, Italy and Argentina.

  • An Italian eatery tapping into pasta obsessions such as cacio e pepe and seafood linguine, plus protein-heavy mains. It’s designed to feel like an Italian dinner party – so gather your crew and make for the all-seasons rooftop courtyard.

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  • Like a fine Italian wine, Becco proves age is no barrier to quality. Focusing on the country as a whole rather than one specific region, the menu at this old-school eatery is a testament to the idea that – a lot of the time – simplicity is best.

  • If you’re after Italian with a fun, neighbourhood feel, head here. Restaurateur Chris Lucas’s buzzing southside spot turns out pizzas alongside salumi and traditional, crowd-pleasing pastas.

  • A swish Italian spot that reps lesser-known pastas such as paccheri and tortelli, and obscure wine varieties to drink with them. Also on the menu are house-made digestifs such as limoncello, Aperol Margaritas and an unmissable tiramisu.

  • Two childhood friends are behind this breezy upstairs Italian spot, which pays homage to the neighbourhood eateries of their hometown with textbook pastas, cacio e pepe toasties and a daily dessert that’s best paired with house-made amaro.

  • Rosa Mitchell’s menu is a masterclass in simple and supremely effective Italian cooking. Forget luxe imported ingredients – her unpretentious eatery in the heart of the legal district is all about making local produce sing.

  • Pizza is king here, but the ex-DOC owner behind it also serves killer antipasto. Enjoy your pie with an extensive drinks list championing lo-fi wines from Italian regions like Puglia, Toscana and Piedmont, and small-batch Italian beers.

  • Starting in the 1940s as a place for migrant waiters to unwind after a shift, this Melbourne icon still serves reliably good pastas and desserts. There’s nothing fancy here – just good wine in glass tumblers, humble family-run hospitality, and a chalkboard menu of hearty Italian classics.

  • Little Italy wouldn’t be the same without this little joint. People have been lining up across its chequerboard floors for generous pastas, pizzas and parmigianas since the ’70s. But fear not – the queue moves fast.

  • After years delivering lasagne around town in a ’91 Holden Barina, owner Joey Kellock moved into a former pizza shop and started serving up the goods to his legion of followers. Now you can order a side of salumi and a spritz to go with his famous, saucy slabs.

  • Come to this buzzy restaurant for pizza like the Italians eat: simple and brilliant combos that don’t overload the palate, with a focus on best-in-class ingredients. It can be hard to squeeze in on a busy night – that’s half the fun.

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  • Not much has changed at this Chapel Street institution since it opened in 1988. Truth be told, not much needs to. There’s always a reliably good meat or fish of the day, plus pastas and risotto. And though it’s small, there’s a bustling energy to the place that’s all part of the appeal.

  • It’s a tiny spot, but the romantic, elbow-to-elbow ambience at Thirty Eight Chairs increases the chances of getting to know your neighbours – and maybe even sharing a bottle of wine with them. Pastas pay homage to all the family classics and are made from scratch.

  • With an impressive collection of art covering the walls, Cicciolina feels like a dinner party in an eccentric painter's home – and it’s almost always full. Diners young and old are drawn back for its simple Italian cuisine and lengthy wine list. Enjoy drops from Italy, France and beyond from the bar out the back while you wait for a table.

  • If you forget to book at this cosy neighbourhood restaurant, grab a seat at the bar, order a spritz and picture yourself in the streets of Palermo as you wait for a table. You’re in for home-style Sicilian fare, nostalgic Italian desserts and a welcoming vibe.

  • This Italian-leaning wine bar serves remixed pastas and classic Italian dishes in a room full of mid-century design flourishes. And there's an on-site bottle shop with Aussie and Italian booze.

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  • Florentino’s downstairs sibling is a casual, Tuscan-inspired steakhouse powered by a Josper grill. Grill dials down the formality and grandeur, yet retains the mothership’s passion for outstanding produce and Italian values.

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  • The permanent home of popular Italian sandwich pop-up, Rocco’s – with the addition of big bowls of pasta, house-made Italian liqueurs and a vibe reminiscent of an Italian nonna's house.

  • Sit up at the bar or outside in the heart of Fitzroy North village over an unpretentious and affordable bowl of pasta. The owner of the neighbourhood spot is a self-professed wine lover, filling out the mostly Victorian wine list with ones she’d drink herself. Better yet, you can bring your own.

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  • This family-run restaurant has been serving elevated Italian food to locals for decades. Go for saffron tagliolini with spanner crab, eggplant parmigiana or 12-hour roasted lamb shoulder. Plus, exclusive wines from small Italian producers that you’ll only find here.

  • This family-run restaurant has served comforting Italian favourites since 1988. Settle into one of its 135 seats for family-recipe gnocchi, traditional desserts and a 100-strong list of local and international wines. Or take a bottle and one of its heat-and-eat meals to go.

  • Hit this elevated Italian spot for 72-hour fermented pizza cooked in an imported Roman oven. Plus, house-made pastas and larger Italian plates. Behind the bar, the team mixes spicy Margaritas using house-infused jalapeno tequila.

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  • Watch chefs prepare Italian dishes at this upstairs wine bar, from the team behind the longstanding family-run grocer downstairs. Select a drop from two cellars’ worth of imported Italian wine. And consult the official head of cheese on the extensive selection of formaggio.

  • A corner eatery serving umami-heavy pizza, vegan “Notella” calzones and Aperol spritz on tap.

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  • D’asporto’s founder started making pizzas when he was seven. Today, his family-run diner serves some of the best pies in the west, alongside family-recipe pastas and plenty of Italian wines and beers.

  • Named for the legendary pasta sauce, Guy Grossi's Italian diner at the Clifton Hotel serves a handful of the chef's favourite dishes under one roof. By that we mean woodfired clam pizzas, bolognaise jaffles and an Italian-style riff on the pub burger.

  • Sosta’s owners show their Italian roots through house-made pastas, elegant mains and Italian wines. But they nod to their new home through native ingredients – which might show up in kangaroo carpaccio or Spanner Crab linguini.

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