Italian culture and cuisine has been a staple of Melbourne life since the 1850s when immigrants from southern Italy flocked to Australia during the Victorian gold rush era, and as a result, introduced the renowned flavours and techniques of Italian cuisine to the city. Since then, thousands of people claiming Italian heritage have made their home in Melbourne, with Italian restaurants a common sight in every suburb. You’ll find cosy and rustic spots in hidden alleyways, or discover Melbourne’s very own Little Italy on Lygon Street, or perhaps you’re after something in the heart of it all? No matter what you’re after, there’s an Italian restaurant in Melbourne just right for you. So explore and discover them for yourself, with Quandoo.
Italian is one of the finest cuisines in the world, renowned for its wealth of ingredients, regional variations and streamlined approach to recipes. Even at the most refined Italian restaurants in Melbourne, dishes tend to be defined by the superior quality of the ingredients used, rather than fancy frills and elaborate presentation. Regional differences have narrowed somewhat since the unification of Italy in the 19th century, but a proud sense of tradition has ensured that many parts of the Italian peninsula are still synonymous with signature dishes and produce.
Italian restaurants in Melbourne are plentiful, and the many restaurateurs running them claim ancestry from immigrants who flocked to Victoria from Calabria and Sicily in the 1800s, so you can expect a showcase of Mezzogiorno flavours at Italian restaurants in Melbourne. Calabrian cuisine is well-known for its magnificent Mediterranean character, with a healthy balance of meat and vegetable based dishes, alongside delicious cold cuts and mouthwatering seafood specialities. Affectionately known as God's Kitchen due to its abundance of premium produce, Sicilian cuisine is brimming with rich dishes veering on the healthy side with plenty of vegetables, lean meats and fresh seafood. Artichokes and aubergines form the foundation of many meals, while sea bream, swordfish and sardines ensure the simplest fish supper is bursting with flavour.
We honestly, have no idea! Lucky for us, Italian restaurants in Melbourne know what they’re doing, with proper pizzerias serving up stone-baked and woodfired pizza, done the traditional way. Craving a margarita? Or perhaps a pumpkin & prosciutto is more your style? You'll find some of the finest pizzas in Australia in the Victorian state capital. In fact, the city is home to Australia’s very first pizzeria, going strong since 1961. Prefer pasta to pizza? Dive into a generous portion of spaghetti alla puttanesca, a spicy twist on the pomodoro recipe, enriched with capers, black olives and fresh oregano, or feast on homemade gnocchi with a rich tomato sauce brimming with flavour.
In Italy itself, there's several types of eateries where diners can indulge, and Italian restaurants in Melbourne honour this healthy diversity. A classic ristorante provides you with sophisticated surroundings, extensive menus and an enchanting atmosphere – ideal for first dates. If you're not up to such a formal affair, you might want to give osteria Italian restaurants in Melbourne a try. You can expect a good range of wines, simple flavours and a relaxing atmosphere at these eateries. Need more choice? A traditional trattoria restaurant captures the charm of casual dining, but delivers a greater variety of rustic dishes.
With so many Italian restaurants in Melbourne, it’s easy to enjoy an authentic Mediterranean feast. Kick things off with an aperitivo and raise a toast with chilled prosecco while enjoying some delicious antipasti. Following on, a primo plate is your second course, with popular choices including risotto, pasta and polenta. A secondi course ups the portion sizes, with flavourful fish like salt cod and salmon common, although poultry and red meat can also serve as the cornerstone of this course.
Now, we know you’re definitely going to be full after indulging in all of the delicious dishes we’ve spoken about. But one thing is simply a must, when you are treating yourself to an evening on Lygon Street, or at any of the wonderful Italian restaurants in Melbourne, you’d be remiss to not opt for a dessert to perfectly round off your meal. Regional cheeses and fruits are a delightful end to your meal at one of Melbourne’s best Italian restaurants, but if you’re after something truly decadent, there’s no better way to cap off an authentic Italian feast than with a tasty tiramisu or panna cotta. And topped off with a fresh espresso, there’s no better evening spent than one at an Italian restaurants in Melbourne.