Con gusto, Canberra!
When it comes to people-pleasing cuisines, you can’t go much wrong with a wholesome Italian feast. From pizza to pasta, caprese to ciabatta, sumptuous Italian dining is something for everyone.
And whether you’re after a family-friendly restaurant for a big celebration, or a romantic date night full of fine-dining, Canberra’s classy food scene will have what you’re looking for.
Here’s our run down of the best 10 Italian restaurants in Canberra.
The team at Belluci’s demonstrate a contemporary approach to food and its philosophy. Over time as Canberra’s food scene has evolved, so too has Belluci’s. Their menu is traditional, focusing on creating simple and rustic meals while never failing to deliver fine quality. We recommend the Risotto Al Gamberi ($35), with Queensland prawns and squid, chilli, prawn bisque and fresh herbs.
Found tucked away in the Melbourne Building in the CBD, Mama’s Trattoria is traditional Italian to the core. A wide variety of pasta staples and original concepts take centre stage, with every lunch, dinner and weekend sitting likely to be packed out by hungry food lovers. The restaurant offers a European flair through the outdoor dining which sprawls onto the pedestrian concourse, while also creating a rustic and warm dining experience. And of course, the menu definitely lives up to its name, Mama would approve.
Italian & Sons
With over 10 years on the Canberra food scene, Italian & Sons has had time to master their art. As the first premium restaurant in the now bustling Lonsdale Street, Italian & Sons is crowned for having single-handedly brought around the drastic (and brilliant) change to the Braddon precinct. The food is contemporary Italian, offering authentic favourites in a setting reminiscent of Rome. If a one-hat rating from the SMH Good Food Guide isn’t enough, Italian & Sons also holds a prestigious two-glass rating in the Gourmet Traveller Wine Australian wine list of the year awards. Awards which both speak volume and truth.
It’s the big brother of Italian & Sons – slightly larger and with more of an emphasis on fine dining. Here you’ll find half of the clientele in suits, dining on delicate plates of tortellini, while the other half are likely to be couples, enjoying romantic meals of Southern Italian cuisine. Oozing class and intimacy, Mezzalira Ristorante is Canberra fine dining at its best. Better yet, at the moment, they’re offering a tasting menu, set at $85pp, you’ll enjoy three courses of fresh and delicious Italian cuisine.
It’s a micro-eatery at its best. The tiny Pizza Gusto in Braddon is a wood-fired pizza joint, famed for its light, crispy pizzas. Located on Lonsdale Street, Pizza Gusto is the perfect midweek location for when there’s no food in the house and you’ve had a long day at work. Grab a seat at one of the tables outside or snag yourself some takeaway. We’re certain you can’t go past the Gusto – tomato and bocconcini cheese finished with prosciutto, rocket and a sneaky drizzle of EV olive oil. Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness obviously never ate at Gusto.
While the fine-dining scene of Canberra has grown in recent years and (in our opinion) can’t be faulted, there is something to be said for the longstanding local joints that dish up quality pizza and handmade pasta all topped with the freshest ingredients. Facing out from the ground floor of the Melbourne building, Briscola serves a varied crowd – business men and women, families, couples, groups of friends – all leaving well and truly satisfied.
Carlo Tosolini is a name that needs little introduction to any true Canberra foodie. Having owned and run Tosolini’s for 29 years, Carlo has since opened Molto Italian – the perfect mix of modern and traditional. There’s a rich sense of history teamed with the joy of cooking, Italian food and of course, culture. The restaurant is modern and sleek, and the food is dreamy to say the least.
Originally opened in 2002 on Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Chez Frederic has come a long way – literally. Chez Frederic prides themselves on producing innovative pasta and high quality interpretations of classic Italian dishes. This little restaurant offers diners a truly contemporary take on Italian dining, with items such as Jalapeno Garlic Bread ($5), Duck Ravioli ($22.50) and Cheeseburger Gnocchi ($23.50) – just some of the locals favourites.
It’s a funny concept – board games and beer in a restaurant that also doubles as a cafe. But that’s Guild- and it works. Get your geek on while chowing down on some mouthwatering wood-fired pizza. The kitchen is headed by chef Damien Maier and his team, who serve first class pizza, arancini and mezze platters.
This wood-fired pizzeria and restaurant is nestled in the heart of Manuka. They rely on their 300 year-old traditional Italian recipe to serve up authentic Neapolitan pizza, alongside some refreshing takes on modern classics for those who like their dinner a little less doughy. It’s bright and airy interior allows you to peek into the kitchen too, so you can see the chefs hard at work.
Looking for more Canberra restaurant recommendations? Get a taste of the top 10 steakhouses across the capital. If you’re planning a romantic date-night or a fun evening out, you have to hear all about Canberra’s upcoming floating cinema.