The Best Italian Restaurants in Melbourne
Those who are lactose intolerant — look away.
THE BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANTS IN MELBOURNE
Those who are lactose intolerant — look away.
UPDATE Tuesday, August 31: Victoria is currently under stay-at-home orders so, while you can't visit these restaurants in person, you can still show your support with takeaway and online orders. For more details on Victoria's current restrictions, see the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website.
What's the best way to treat those pesky winter blues? Pasta, pizza and a generous serving of tiramisu. Melbourne is known for its Italian cuisine prowess — home to everything from famed squid ink tagliolini to the old faithful wood-fired Margherita; rich duck ragus and golden-fried arancini balls.
We've hunted down the best Italian restaurants Melbourne has to offer, so you can eat your way through the best pizza and pasta across the city.
The word ‘institution’ gets thrown around quite a bit, but Tipo 00 can rightfully claim the title. Named after the finely ground flour used to make pizza and pasta, Tipo’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down – just try getting a table at noon any day of the week. Their menu is simple and reliable, with crowd-favourite dishes like the squid ink tagliolini (a narrower version of tagliatelle) which is served with squid and bottarga (cured fish roe). You can’t leave without ordering a plate (or two) of their famous Tipomisù — a ring of fudgey chocolate cake filled with mascarpone and chocolate caramel. Watch out for the intense kick of caffeine at the end.
Upon arrival, the close-knit tables are the first thing most diners notice at Thirty Eight Chairs. Reminiscent of a hole-in-the-wall in Italy, the lack of personal space increases the chance you’ll get to know your dinner neighbours exponentially — and that’s part of the charm. Thirty Eight Chairs’ menu focuses on all the family classics — think hearty duck ragu layered on top of freshly made, al dente pappardelle; or grilled octopus served on a refreshing bed of capsicum and orange salad. You won’t find any pizza here, but don’t forget to ask for the dessert menu which boasts a perfectly balanced tiramisu. Plus, each dessert can be thoughtfully paired with a recommended glass of sweet wine.
Just around the corner from Richmond station, Ms Frankie allows diners to get up close and personal with a glass-enclosed pasta-making room. Take a seat at one of the bar stools and watch them make your order from scratch — whether you’ve picked the pumpkin and ricotta stuffed ravioli topped with amaretti crumb ($32), slow cooked duck ragu with fettuccine ($34) or Giorgio’s signature spaghetti marinara ($38). Gluten-free options are also available for $5 per person.
Just a short stroll away from the hustle and bustle of Chapel Street, Eat’aliano is a little Italian gem that is blowing the minds of Melburnians. Their homemade pappardelle with slow-cooked lamb ragu ($26.50) is a crowd favourite – the rich, full-flavoured sauce coats every strand of their thick al dente pasta to create the perfect mouthful. End the meal with a generous slice of their traditional tiramisu ($10) or a sneaky cannolo filled with fresh ricotta and roasted pistachio. Suspending, hanging plant boxes and exposed industrial roofing gives the interior a laidback ambience, complemented by concrete floors and an open kitchen. Visitors can eye the prized wood-fire pizza oven, which features distinctive tiles with sleek white squares.
Loved by locals, Cafe Terroni is renowned in Melbourne’s west for its friendly service and warm atmosphere. Their pasta is freshly made every single day, from the pillowy ravioli filled with fresh crayfish, prawn and crustacean oil ($33.90) to their allergen-friendly vegan, almond-based, gluten-free beetroot gnocchi ($24.90). If you’re feeling adventurous, have a peek at their daily rotation of specials — the fish of the day is exceptionally fresh. Finding a park in the area can be a bit of a nightmare though, so we recommend catching a ride on Melbourne’s (mostly) reliable PTV for the night or pulling straws for the designated driver.
They dub themselves as ‘al dente hosts’ — that is, being neither “over” nor “under” cooked when it comes to customer service. Tiger & Lisa’s menu is small but mighty, and only features the absolute staples of Italian cuisine. Start with golden arancini balls made with ‘nduja’, a spicy pork sausage originating from the region of Calabria in Southern Italy. Then, dive into one of their four mains — all of the pasta is freshly made each day and coated in their homemade sauces. Expect an excellent guanciale ($23), their version of carbonara; wild mushroom and truffle-filled tortellini ($27); and beef cheek and nduja ragu ($25). Finish the meal with a slice of the creamiest burnt basque cheesecake and some bombolini (Italian doughnuts), served with espresso ganache and cream.
What started as a lasagne hotline side hustle has finally upgraded to a moody bricks-and-mortar diner. The warm, Italian-style haunt is low on pretension and filled with charming carryovers from its past life as an old-school pizza joint. A softly lit front bar is all exposed brick arches, timber panelling and curved high-top tables, leading to an intimate dining room through the back and cosy, vine-covered courtyard. The stars of the menu are Joey Kellock’s renowned vegetarian lasagne ($24) and carne lasagne (made with a mix of pork and beef mince, $24). Kellock keeps it simple with a small selection of other pasta dishes (gnocchi, pappardelle and fettuccine), as well as some classic garlic bread for sauce mopping ($8). It also means you can (somewhat) refrain from licking the plate.
Hi Italy is a cosy hole-in-the-wall slinging out some of the best pizza Reservoir has ever seen. Head chef Lucio hails from the island of Sardinia and is passionate about all things Italian. The pizza is freshly made to order in their small wood-fired oven, ensuring every single base is perfectly charred and slightly crispy. Like most Italian chefs, stingy is not a part of Lucio’s vocabulary — expect generous amounts of Prosciutto di Parma (lovingly shaped into roses) and freshly grated parmesan cheese by the handful. You’ll find classics like the Mortadella with tomato, mozzarella, gorgonzola and mortadella ($22.50), along with new school favourites like the signature Hi Italy with mozzarella, Proscuitto di Parma, cherry tomatoes, parmesan and rocket ($25.50). Remember to book in advance, their dining area is intimate and tends to fill up quickly.
Arguably one of the frontrunners of the artisan pizza revolution, D.O.C’s popularity (much like their cheese) stretches all the way from Mornington to New South Wales. Established in 1997, D.O.C has won over the hearts of Melburnians with their perfectly balanced pizza — thin, slightly chewy but crispy bases are layered with options like pork sausage (housemade at the D.O.C Deli next door) and melty mozzarella. If you still have room, their degustation of ‘3 Mozzarelle’ ($32) allows you to try a tasting plate full of authentic imported Italian cheese. Bellissimo.