It's well known that the Italian community in Melbourne is quite prominent. With an influx of Italians migrating in the 1950's onwards (including our very own founder, Tony Longo), the early settlers built a steady Italian community that has influenced many factors of Melbourne's culture.
Today, there is a plethora of Italian eateries around Melbourne. But with variety comes saturation; you need to know where the best ones are. So, we've gone around the office to ask the team their go-to's when dining Italian in Melbourne.
Located on High Street in Windsor, Tipico is a polished pizza and cocktail bar serving authentic, modern Italian cuisine. Somehow rustic yet hip, Tipico has quickly become a local favourite, with dishes like 'Sardine and Polenta (fried sardines with polenta chips), gnocchi mushroom ragu, salsiccia pizza, and patata pizza dominating the menu.
Our favourite: the Tagliatelle with braised beef ragu is to die for! Shred with parmigiano cheese and a glass of red and your night is set.
Tipico is pretty forgiving when it comes to dress code, and what to wear sort of depends on the time of day. For a casual Saturday lunch, especially during the warmer months, try some CALIFORNIA almond driving shoes with light-washed jeans and a linen shirt. Just make sure to keep that cuff nice and high. For Friday date night, go for the DEXTER brown Chelsea boots instead, matched with dark denim and a button-up shirt. Pro tip: accessorise this look with a leather belt and vintage dress watch.
Photo by Jana Langhorst
For a simple, authentic Italian experience you won't forget, try Trattoria Emilia, just off Little Collins Street in the CBD. Although it’s a little hard to find, that’s kind of how the owners like it. Trattoria Emilia feels like discovering an old-school pasta bar down some side street in Florence. And if you love your pasta, then this is the place for you. They make it daily here, by hand, and the menu changes with the seasons.
Sourcing the best Italian DOP produce, including Tradizionale Balsamic Vinegar di Modena, Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Almonds, Walnuts and Pistachios from Noto, Trattoria Emilia pulls out all the stops. Our favourite: To start: Salumi e Gnocco Fritto from the Emilia-Romana region. For mains, the Tortelloni Emiliani is a must, featuring morsels of mortadella, prosciutto, parmesan, walnut and balsamic dressing.
For Trattoria Emilia, you want something warm and classic, like our TOMMASI brown brogues. Match these with some navy dress chinos, a knit blazer and sky-blue button-up shirt – that’s a sophisticated semi-formal look with tonnes of character. For the business lunch, go for some BERESFORD black dress shoes instead, paired with a white shirt and charcoal wool suit. If in doubt, err on the more formal side here. No-one at Emilia will throw you out for wearing sneakers, but casual shoes don’t really suit the atmosphere.
Photo by Wayne Taylor
Another CBD gem, Osteria Ilaria is tucked away on Little Bourke Street, offering modern Italian cuisine in a relaxing, chic environment. This place is the little sibling of the famous Tipo 00 (another of our top Melbourne recommendations), but while Tipo 00 is all about pasta, Osteria Ilaria is obviously shooting for a modern osteria. It’s thoughtful, cosy and tantalising, perfect for date night or a traditional Italian meal with a modern twist.
Our favourite: The Chef's menu at $80pp is fantastic! Experience dishes like rabbit sausage with spiced apple & pine nuts, roast corn-fed duck with radicchio & hazelnuts, and mandarin millefoglie to finish.
This is another venue where you really want to bring your A-Game. For date night, start with a pair of Chelsea boots, either the HARLEY in dark brown leather or the DEXTER in khaki suede. Match those with some tan or navy chinos, button-up shirt and suit jacket. For a more relaxed dinner with friends, try the BECKETT brown suede Chukka boots with slim-fit dark jeans and a comfy crew knit.
For authentic Sicilian cuisine, you can't go past Bar Idda on Lygon Street, right in the heart of Melbourne's 'Little Italy'. This place is all about authentic Sicilian cuisine with a focus on fresh, seasonal produce. It’s a great spot for a Sunday lunch with friends.
Sicilian food, if you haven't experienced it before, is quite different from traditional Italian cuisine. Influences from Greece, Spain, France and the Middle East all come together on the one plate, and the result is nothing like your classic northern spag bol.
Our favourite: The Capretto (Anchovy & buttermilk slow roasted goat with wild fennel and lemon) is unbelievably good. The Capunata, a truly authentic Sicilian dish, is a must (sweet & sour fried eggplant, zucchini, capers, green olives & chickpea purée).
Bar Idda is pretty chill. In summer, set yourself up on an outside table with a glass of limoncello and a pair of loafers or driving shoes. Maybe the ALBERTO tassel loafers in croc brown leather, or some CALIFORNIA moccasins. To style these, all you need are some navy chino shorts, invisible socks, and a white linen shirt. Throw on some vintage sunnies and you could be sitting seaside in Palermo.
Hailed as one of the best pizza's in Melbourne (and with good reason), Rita's is a small Italian cafeteria located on the hustle and bustle of Johnson Street in Abbotsford. It’s been winning the hearts of locals for over 10 years.
Warm and inviting, Rita's specialises in traditional Italian cuisine with a modern spin. The pastas on offer are house-made, and the pizzas are thin, tasty and cooked to perfection.
Our favourite: The Salty Pig Pizza, with tomato, mozzarella, chilli, garlic, pancetta, capers and anchovies. Simply delicious!
No need for anything too fancy here. Rita’s doesn’t have a dress code. Some DECO sneakers in grey nubuck or white leather will match with any outfit, or you could try the ever-reliable desert boot. These guys are our go-to for casual dining, especially when you want to look just that little bit sharp. Throw on some BRODY desert boots with cuffed indigo jeans and a cotton hoodie. Job done. Time for pizza.