It’s no secret the world over has a deep love affair with Italian cuisine. You could list the reasons at length – artisan produce, indulgent flavours, a rich cultural appreciation for food (and that’s just for starters).
But it’s the kind of love affair which runs particularly deep amongst Australians. Influenced by a wave of Italian immigration during the 50s, the newcomers redefined our tasting palate and it’s something I’m sure we’re all happy about.
This history is most apparent when you consider the huge number of Italian restaurants in Sydney. Locals are always hungry for the best Italian cooking, those authentic dishes that find the perfect balance between being both comforting and gourmet.
To help the hunt, we’ve put together a list of our favourite Italian restaurants in the city. Sixteen eateries, to be precise. From Sydney’s best pasta joints to some of the country’s leading hatted restaurants, there’s something for whatever dining experience you’re after.
Best Italian Restaurants in Sydney
An all-day eatery accommodating any occasion, Bartolo is a classy gem in Surry Hills that will charm any visitor regardless of the hour. Guests can pop in during the morning and have an espresso, enjoy a long weekend lunch in true Italian fashion, unwind with an aperitivo cocktail after work, or have a romantic dinner for two. Expect traditional flavours and nice ambience.
Open Monday to Thursday from 7am – 3pm and 5:30 – 10pm, Friday from 7am – 3pm and 5:30 – 12am, Saturday from 8am – 12am, Sunday from 8am – 10pm.
359 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney 2010
Bacco Osteria e Espresso
What sets apart Bacco Osteria e Espresso, a One-Hat eatery located in the heart of downtown, apart from other Italian restaurants in Sydney is their meticulous dedication to sourcing the best produce. Organic and sustainable goods from local producers ensure the artisanal approach to Bacco’s menu is traditionally Italian and the in-house bread, pasta and soft cheeses are made fresh daily. There’s also an excellent Italian wine list.
Open Monday to Saturday from 7am – 10pm.
2-12/1 Angel Place, Sydney CBD, Sydney 2000
Baccomatto Osteria is an Italian restaurant in Sydney with a well-established reputation for serving authentic food in an atmosphere of elegance and simplicity. With a new location opening up in Randwick come December 2019, having now left their long-standing Surry Hills location, the team will be bringing new energy and zest to the eatery and mostly serving Roman-inspired cuisine. And for sure, the quality will be as high as ever.
Open Monday to Thursday from 6pm – late, Friday to Sunday from 12 – 3pm and 6pm – late.
162-164 Barker Street, Randwick, Sydney 2031
Great wine, delicious food and genuine service is all rolled into one at Fratelli Paradiso, a friendly One-Hat restaurant in Potts Point. Although not as swanky as other restaurants on the list, the hospitality here makes you feel right at home. Match that with a seasonal gourmet menu and you’ve certainly got one charming, laid back eatery worth visiting. FYI, they’ve also got a great sister restaurant called 10 William St in Paddington.
Open Monday to Saturday from 7am – 11pm, Sunday from 7am – 10pm.
12-16 Challis Avenue, Potts Point, Sydney 2011
Wheat & Barrel
A neighbourhood gem in Cronulla, Wheat & Barrel is a boutique pasta and wine bar that loves simple yet artisan food and drink. Premium product like prosciutto di Parma, pecorino sardo from Sardinia and Calabria-style ‘ndjua spicy salami grace the delicious antipasto platters. Fresh handmade pasta in traditional sauces, meanwhile, are the stars of the show. The wine selection is equally noteworthy, with a handful being available on tap and quality wines by the bottle.
Open Wednesday and Thursday from 12 – 3:30pm, Friday and Saturday from 12 – 9:30pm, Sunday from 12 – 9pm.
2/59-65 Gerrale Street, Cronulla, Sydney 2230
LuMi Dining is one of Australia’s leading fine dining establishments, an innovative restaurant from the talented couple Federico and Michela Zanellato, the respective head chef and sommelier. Since opening in 2014, this waterfront eatery in Pyrmont has been awarded Two Hats for inventive Italian cuisine with a Japanese twist. A small bar menu is available, but for a true culinary experience make a booking for their seasonal degustation tasting menu.
Open Wednesday and Thursday from 6:30 – 11pm, Friday to Sunday from 12 – 4pm and 6 – 11pm.
56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, Sydney 2009
Ormeggio at the Spit
One of Sydney’s darling restaurants, Ormeggio at the Spit captivates diners in a number of ways. Guests can enjoy a romantic waterside setting down at The Spit, professional yet laid back service and atmosphere, as well as modern Italian cuisine which is both refined and innovative. The quality here is indisputable and the restaurant has Two Hats from the Good Food Guide to prove it. You can find a more in-depth spotlight on Ormeggio here.
Open Wednesday to Thursday from 5:45 – 9:30pm, Friday to Saturday from 11:45am – 3pm and 5:45 – 9:30pm, Sunday from 11:45am – 3pm and 6:30 – 8:30pm.
D’Albora Marinas, Spit Road, Mosman, Sydney 2088
It seems unbelievable we haven’t mentioned a pizza joint until now. But that’s the reality when considering the tight competition between the best Italian restaurants in Sydney. Yet most deserving to be included within our list is Da Mario, an inviting pizzeria in Rosebery. Australia’s first member of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the official organisation who classify whether a pizza is authentically Neapolitan, Da Mario serves traditional wood-fired pies to die for.
Open Tuesday to Thursday from 5 – 9pm, Friday to Sunday from 12 – 3pm and 5 – 9:30pm.
Shop 1/36 Morley Avenue, Rosebery, Sydney 2018
Mark and Vinny’s Spaghetti & Spritz
Mark and Vinny’s Spaghetti & Spritz is a much-loved spot that isn’t afraid to take a playful approach to Italian cooking. As you’ve probably gathered from the name, the focus here is on pasta and spritz cocktails. Refresh yourself with Fly Me To The Moon Negronis, When in Surry Hills amaretto mixers, or classics like Peach Campari Spritz. There’s fun atmosphere in bucket loads here and they also have one of our favourite vegan selections in Sydney.
Open Monday to Saturday from 6 – 10pm, and Friday for lunch from 12 – 3pm.
38-52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills, Sydney 2010
Lucio’s Italian Restaurant
Established back in 1983, Lucio’s is a Two-Hat restaurant with a renowned reputation in terms of food, service and atmosphere. Their Paddington dining room is decked out in modern Australian art from top to bottom, creating a unique and charming space to enjoy traditional Italian cuisine. The focus here is on seasonal Northern Italian cuisine, with fresh pasta and seafood dishes being particular house specialities. A stand out restaurant, in more ways than one.
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 12 – 4pm and 6 – 11:55pm.
47 Windsor Street, Paddington, Sydney 2021
Bringing an unusual twist to Sydney’s Italian restaurant scene, Big Poppa’s serves modern Italian dishes and plays hip-hop music. It’s a unique combo, but one that works and creates a lively atmosphere. Tunes are playing non-stop until 3am daily, setting a tone for guests to enjoy gourmet cheeses, sharing plates, cocktails and wine amongst a fun atmosphere.
Open Monday to Sunday from 5pm – 3am.
96 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney 2010
Our other top pizza recommendation in Sydney is Vacanza. The approach here is “less is more” and high-quality Italian and Australian produce ensures every single Neapolitan-style pizza from here is authentic. The original shop is located in Waverley, but we like the more spacious Surry Hills location on the corner of Bourke and Fitzroy Street. Regardless of which you visit, it’s always busy and bustling thanks to Vacanza’s delicious food and endless appeal.
Open Monday to Thursday from 5:30 – 11pm, Friday to Sunday from 12 – 3:30pm and 5:30 – 11pm.
414 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, Sydney 2010
BISTECCA is a cocktail bar and restaurant in the CBD that specialises in Italian wines, aperitifs and steak. While the Italian drinks list will blow you away – we’re talking Negronis, bitters, digestives, grappa and a 19-page wine menu – this establishment is most well known for Tuscany’s famous bistecca alla Fiorentina. One of the best steaks in Sydney, these guys skillfully grill a premium T-bone cut over charcoal, ironbark and olive branch fire. Trust us, this is melt-in-your-mouth quality.
Open Monday to Friday from 12pm – 2am, Saturday from 4pm – 2am.
3 Dalley Street, Sydney CBD, Sydney 2000
One-hatted Mantecato is a neighbourhood eatery that’s dedicated to the art of risotto, an Italian dish which is all too often overshadowed by the fun of pizza and the popularity of pasta. The term mantecato refers to the final vigorous whisking-in of butter into a risotto, an essential technique ensuring a creamy, indulgent and rich dish. The restaurant serves other menu items, but the risotto you’ve got to try! It comes in three varieties – beetroot with stracchino cheese, saffron with pan-fried bone marrow, or porcini mushrooms with prawn ragu.
Open Monday to Saturday from 6 – 10pm, Sunday from 3 – 10pm (Tuesdays closed).
129/85 Reynolds Street, Balmain, Sydney 2041
Salt Meats Cheese
Known throughout Sydney as both quality purveyors and successful restaurateurs, the Salt Meats Cheese group is family-owned and has a deep passion for the honest cooking of Italy. There’s five locations in Sydney, but the flagship Drummoyne eatery is our favourite because it’s open from 7am. Yet regardless of which restaurant you visit, premium ingredients drive home a menu of Italian dishes which is always reliable.
It’s safe to assume that the waterside location and al fresco dining of OTTO Ristorante is the envy of any Sydney restaurant. Situated on Finger Wharf, this ambient One Hat eatery is ideal for a leisurely long lunch. To dine here is both smooth and effortless, with food and wine designed to complement the relaxed setting by tasting simple, generous and indulgent.
Open Monday to Sunday from 12 – 10pm.
8/6 Cowper Wharf Roadway, Woolloomooloo, Sydney 2011