It's time to check in with Brisbane's best and most loved Italian restaurants. Reliable and sage, these places aren’t about to go switching up their menu with a drastic revamp anytime soon. Brisbane's best Italian restaurants come steeped in tradition and are fuelled by a fiery passion to bring the power and glory of the land of Botticelli to your waiting gums.
The defining element of Italian food is the nourishing heft of it, hence we recommend checking out these places the next time you can’t decide between the warm, fuzzy feeling of a home-cooked meal and the swish delights of eating out (read: not feeling guilty for getting through an entire bottle of red with your main).
Here’s where we reckon you’ll find Brisbane’s best Italian restaurants:
Part restaurant, part wine cellar, all fabulous, 1889 enoteca is the first name in intimate dinners, lavish wine lunches, family spreads on Sunday, and of course, really slammin’ food. With an interior reminiscent of the Belle Époque, 1889 enoteca is your best lighting and your best bet at an authentic and refined Italian feast. We recommend the zucchini flowers and the truffle gnocchi.
Run by a stalwart of Italian hospitality, Tocco Italiano is the two-pronged dynamo shaking up Brisbane’s Italian scene. Where the Graceville restaurant is all about rich, authentic Italian feasts, the Teneriffe kitchen operates with a fine dining agenda and is headed by chef, Enzo Ninivaggi, who backed Bardolino’s La Veranda on to winning a Michelin star, so you know you’re in good hands. Choose from Tocco’s expansive menu of rustic pizzas, luscious pastas, and perhaps the most comprehensive list of Italian desserts in town.
One of the Brisbane restaurant greats, Bar Alto is a triple threat of style, substance and location. Perched alongside the Brisbane River inside the iconic Brisbane Powerhouse, this impeccable Italian restaurant is the spot to settle in to when you're craving authentic, hearty dishes from the motherland. From their famous kilo of mussels, to wood-fired pizzas, to their light-as-air fried zucchini crisps, Bar Alto sets the bar for unrivalled river views—pasta in face, Aperol in hand.
Along with their little brother Julius in South Brisbane, Beccofino has long wooed Brisbane’s hungry Italophiles. Front and centre on the ordering agenda is the perfectly tender calamari fritti, followed up with a main-sized serving of the duck ragu pappardelle. Get the full experience with a few glasses of Aperol spritz or a bottle of their finest red.
Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers
The people of Paddo damn near died of exhilaration when Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers decided to bring their food truck game to a permanent roost on Given Terrace. As the city’s first ever gnoccheria, this is one spot that’s always thumping with patrons fanging for those sweet, sweet pillows of carby joy. The duck ragu tends to be a fan favourite but we also dig the Genovese-style gnocchi with basil pesto.
If OTTO has proved one thing it’s that Italian food can be heckin’ mod and swanky when it wants to be. Four floors up and swimming in natural light, the ultra-modern feel of OTTO’s dining space transcends onto their food, which subs out the generous tangles of unctuous, rustic Italian in place of delicate and refined dishes that wouldn’t be out of place in any other hatted restaurant. If you’d like a cheeky frolic through their menu, check out their BYO Saturday lunch.
Touted as the best pizza on the strip, the slice queens at AJO’ Dimonius are saviours of our late nights. Their hand-stretched pizzas are available until late six nights a week, providing that witching hour salvation for the cravings that follows a night on the town. The slices are crisp, they’re carby, they’re the finest Sardinia has to offer, and they’re probably available right now so get around it, ya maniac.
Adored for their Italian feast, and signature slow-roasted Gippsland porhcetta, maybe the best part of Popolo are their picnics. Their riverside locale means the temptation to wander down to the water’s edge is too great to ignore, so to stop you abandoning your seat, Popolo offers a bunch of toteable picnics for groups of two, four, and above which include some stunning antipasti, fresh pizzas, and soft drinks as well as a bunch of other menu heroes for your and the pack to lounge on the grass with. That’s every Sunday afternoon sorted then.
Beneath the dark cloak of dusk, the retail store of Holloway Eyewear becomes quite a different place entirely. Serving up quality pizzas and traditional Italian dishes like eggplant parmigiana, polpette, and carbonara, Luigi’s is a comforting haven for any self-diagnosed sucker for classic Italian.
Better known as the home of parmesan wheel pasta, Il Verde is widely regarded as the sparkling centre of the bejewelled King Street. Come down on Tuesdays and Thursdays and partake in the marvel of hollowing out an entire wheel of parmesan cheese with spaghetti twirls, or stop by on any other day for a plate of risotto or Il Verde’s four-cheese gnocchi.
Like something a bit more hands-on? Check out Brisbane's best pizzas.
Image credit: Hayley Williamson for The Urban List