Best Italian Restaurants in Australia
Read below to discover the best Italian Restaurants in Australia
Reviews by Anthony Huckstep
A slender room houses a long marble table where the pasta-making magic happens every day. Out the back it’s more “casual trattoria” but don’t let the cool vibes fool you – if it’s not the best pasta in town, it’s the most satisfying. A trip to chef Eugenio Maiale’s table is not complete without ordering the pappardelle con ragù, which changes daily from rabbit to duck and even beef shin. For something lighter, ribbons of tagliatelle entwine calamari slivers and cherry tomatoes. Cremino – chocolate mousse, meringue and hazelnut – is the cherry on top of a cracking night.
348 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst; (02) 9331 7871
Reviews by Larissa Dubecki
It’s amore. The devoted diners making a beeline for this seductive bistro know there’s substance to the warm lights twinkling between wooden venetians, the classic wainscoted good looks of the Latin power-eating hotspot with a wine list full to bursting with Old World loveliness. You’d do well to brace yourself for some bill shock, though prices become irrelevant when the parade of Italian classics begins arriving. Everyone seems to order the calamari, lightly floured and fried, on a thicket of rocket but from there it’s anyone’s game, whether it’s the rich Gorgonzola funk accompanying fresh figs, the white anchovy and pink peppercorn zing to the Wagyu carpaccio or the dolce-time frenzy of fairy floss and pop rocks with steamed cheesecake and blueberry and violet-essence sorbet. As for the waiters… at Il Bàcaro, being wooed is to be expected.
168-170 Little Collins Street, Melbourne; (03) 9654 6778
Image credit: Christine Francis
Open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and seven days for dinner Neil Perry doesn’t do things by half-measures. Rosetta, which joined his steakhouse Rockpool Bar & Grill and the regional Chinese Spice Temple on the Crown riverfront three years ago, is cinemascope Italian: a fully realised vision of mid-century opulence complete with russet-coloured velvet banquettes, acres of marble and black-and-white portraits of Italian starlets and playboys. Italian in the classic sense (simple, unfussy and utterly produce-driven), pasta is the restaurant’s long suit. Sophia Loren may well owe everything she has to tagliolini tangled into a garlicky mass and anointed with spanner crab or agnolotti stuffed with a delicately herby farce of veal, rabbit and pork. Roasted meats are another highlight: twice-cooked porchetta with preserved peaches, salsa verde and sanguinaccio (blood sausage). No funny business here; just sheer Italian delight.
Riverside, Crown complex, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank; (03) 8648 1999
Reviews by Morag Kobez
In a precinct where Brisbane’s beautiful people come to see and be seen, Bucci gets the style-to-substance ratio just right. For starters, the food is prettier on the plate than most Italian fare. The sleek, contemporary interior is open to the footpath – all the better to watch the passing parade – but when the food arrives, all eyes are down. Clever re-creations of classics make for lighter, brighter pasta dishes like chilli, parsley and lemon linguine tossed with sweet Sunshine Coast spanner crab. Same goes for secondi; Bucci’s saltimbocca is a smoked-pancetta-wrapped, pink duck breast with cheesy semolina gnocchi and a lemon, caper and herb butter. For dessert, bite-sized orbs of buttermilk panna cotta flanked with zesty lemon butter and fresh and freeze-dried mandarin keep up appearances – proof that beauty can be more than skin deep.
15 James Street, Fortitude Valley; (07) 3252 7848
Image credit: Daniel Maddock
Set in one of the most charming historic buildings in Brisbane, 1889 Enoteca is like a classic film – you know the storyline well but it’s so lovely, you want to keep returning to it. The opening credits are parmesan and rosemary crisps on which to nibble. Then perhaps the vitello tonnato or excellent fried zucchini flowers filled with mozzarella and anchovies. The signature gnocchi is a captivating scene you’ll be keen to replay over and over; dainty pan-fried dumplings with pork-and-fennel sausage in a criminally rich parmesan cream with black-truffle tapenade. As in the traditional enoteche of Italy, wine is just as important as the food. Waiters are well versed in a wine list spanning an astonishing array of naturally made wines from small Italian producers that you won’t find elsewhere in town.
10-12 Logan Road, Woolloongabba; (07) 3392 4315
Reviews by Lucy Barbour
Italian and Sons
This slick and bustling trattoria introduced Canberrans to smart dining without the frills and locals keep lining up for more. There’s theatre everywhere. Waiters with thick accents dart gracefully between small tables, carrying plates of bubbling wood-fired pizzas topped with portobello mushrooms and house-smoked ricotta. Cured meats dangle from above the bar (lined with cognac, grappa and liqueurs) and make for a more-ish charcuterie plate served with grissini and broad bean pesto. Weekday specials like wood-fired spatchcock and salt-crusted, dry-aged sirloin are rustic and delicious but al dente ribbons of maltagliati laced with garlic, chilli and fresh scampi tails are hard to beat.
7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon; (02) 6162 4888
Reviews by Jo Cook
This cosy modern Italian and Mediterranean neighbourhood restaurant seats just 20. Chef Matt Breen and manager Chris Chapple run with a small weekly-changing menu of eight dishes and a wine list with at least one choice each of fizz, white, rosé, orange and red (or BYO for $15). Order from the à la carte menu or go with the chef’s selection and enjoy Breen’s no-fuss-on-the-plate cooking. Start with gnocco fritto (a fried puff of dough wrapped in prosciutto) and a glass of Italian sparkling then move on to farfalle or gnocchetti with a tasty tomato sugo and house-made bottarga. There’s veal cotoletta with zucchini pickles, pork scallopini with lemon, sage and potatoes and just one perfect dessert: silky panna cotta with white nectarine. They do two seatings, at 6pm and 8.30pm. Book ahead.
98 Patrick Street, Hobart; (03) 6234 7659
Reviews by Nigel Hopkins
Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar
With its wall shelves stuffed with cookbooks and Italian pantry items, you’d think you had walked into Nonna’s kitchen. Owner-chef Andre Ursini has enormous passion for Northern Italian cooking – but it’s not all about polenta. You might start with meltingly tender Black Angus beef carpaccio, followed by addictive, chunky white polenta chips with tomato sugo then baked mulloway with mussels, prawns and roast fennel purée. If it’s a day when the kitchen does freshly made gnocchi, grab it. The polenta dishes are great, too. Go on an empty stomach and opt for the “feed me” fixed menu, which is exceptional value. Book ahead as Andre’s can be very busy.
94 Frome Street, Adelaide; (08) 8224 0004
Reviews by Sam McCue
This Italian joint has the checked tablecloths you’d expect but no roof. “Kitchen Under the Stars” pops up by the sea from May to mid-November in the dry season. Line up for more-ish wood-fired pizza, handmade pasta, risotto or fennel-rubbed porchetta. Salads might include Caprese, zucchini and mint or something else fresh and seasonal from horticulturist-turned-restaurateur Benjamin Matthews’ garden. Pull up a chair or bring your own picnic blanket and drinks. Save room for the vanilla panna cotta with strawberry and basil or passionfruit sauce, or the espresso panna cotta with dark chocolate and brandy sauce.
Le Stelle Seabreeze car park, Chapman Road, Nightcliff; 0449 731 490
Reviews by Max Veenhuyzen
Blessed with a profound understanding of Northern Italian traditions as well as contemporary food movements, Joel Valvasori-Pereza is one of the city’s best chefs. While his handmade pastas remain as dependable as ever wise eaters know the value-packed “il Capo” tasting menu ($58 per person) is where it’s at. From the deluxe whipped smoked eel and potato “dip” with squid ink crostoli to the elegant house-made ricotta teamed with seasonal accompaniments such as figs, this shared table is a mighty fine endorsement for both Lalla Rookh and cucina Italiana.
77 St Georges Terrace, Perth; (08) 9325 7077
Credit – article first appeared in Qantas – Travel Insider