italian pasta is a white bowl

Whenever friends or family from out of town come to visit, they usually spend a night dining on Lygon Street in Carlton. After all, who doesn’t love a soul warming bowl of pasta or a pizza baked with freshly made dough? The question I’m frequently asked is what’s the best Italian restaurant that Carlton has to offer? Although there’s the occasional newcomer to the Carlton restaurant scene, it’s the household names that I love and still frequent the most.

What I love about these top 3 Italian restaurants:

  • authentic Italian cooking
  • traditional dishes that never fail to deliver on taste
  • a relaxed atmosphere to dine

Top 3 Italian restaurants in Carlton

These top 3 are in no particular order.

#1 Tiamo

If it’s the weekend, there’s a very good chance you’ll be lining up to get into this restaurant but don’t be put off. The line moves at a steady pace and the food is absolutely worth the wait. People wouldn’t be lining up if it wasn’t!

The Penne al Raghu and Gamberi pizza are both well worth trying, although in fairness, there is no weak link in their menu. It’s all good. If you have room, try the Nutella pizza for dessert!

Location: 303 Lygon Street, Carlton

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#2 Donnini’s

These guys know how to run a restaurant. Delicious food, great service and an uncanny ability to remember their customers. This makes you feel like a valued patron rather than a number.

Since the early 1950’s the Donnini family has had a culinary presence in Melbourne. Another well-known Carlton restaurant, University Cafe, was opened by the Donnini’s in 1952. It’s fair to say if you’ve been in the industry that long, you know your way around a kitchen. Their handmade pasta is exceptional. Try the spaghetti or prawn and asparagus ravioli for a taste sensation.

Location: 320 Lygon Street, Carlton.

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#3 Il Cantuccio

It doesn’t get more authentic than this restaurant – a traditional cantina which has been serving amazing Italian dishes since 1983. Il Cantuccio means “little nook” which is a fitting name. This intimate venue allows for an atmosphere which is relaxed, warm and inviting.

Expect food like you’d get in a small authentic Italian town. No over the top food fads, just old-school deliciousness.Try the homemade cannelloni and the chocolate mousse for a yummy treat.

Location: 209 Lygon Street, Carlton.

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