Reliable and sage, Brisbane's best Italian restaurants come steeped in tradition and aren’t about to go switching up their menu with a drastic revamp anytime soon. As 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 and fuzzy feeling of a home-cooked meal and the swish delights of eating out.
Here’s where we reckon you’ll find Brisbane’s best Italian restaurants:
Part restaurant, part wine cellar, 1889 enoteca is the first name in intimate dinners, lavish wine lunches, family spreads on Sunday, and of course, Roman cuisine. 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. Choose from Tocco’s expansive menu of rustic pizzas, luscious pastas, and perhaps the most comprehensive list of Italian desserts in town.
The pizza is the main spectacle at Little G. Putting a refreshing spin on classics, Little G tread the fine line between tradition and modernity, which ensures they stay interesting. Little G also offer a daily and inventive iteration of arancini, as well as some playful ‘not pizza’ options including potatoes with chimmichurri, corn with ranch and provolone, and their own take on fried chicken.
The vision for Ripiena is a pasta laboratory. Operating out of a bolthole-sized space, Ripiena ascribes to traditional methods of pasta-making to produce fresh, artisanal pasta daily. Their small team of passionate pasta makers use only the finest ingredients, and specialise in pastas like tortellini, hence the name Ripiena the Italian word for ‘filled’.
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 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.
Four floors up and swimming in natural light, OTTO's ultra-modern 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. Check out their BYO Saturday lunch for a taste of their menu standouts.
Touted as the best pizza on the strip, the slicers at AJO’ Dimoniusare saviours of the late night. Their hand-stretched pizzas are available until late six nights a week, providing the finest, crispiest and carbiest Sardinian pizzas in town.
Known for their Italian feast and signature slow-roasted Gippsland porhcetta, Popolo is a classic and hearty Italian stop. Their riverside locale inspired Popolo to offer a bunch of picnics for groups of two, four, and above which include antipasti, fresh pizzas, and soft drinks as well as a bunch of other menu heroes.
Paring things back to their absolute classics, Luigi’s is a classic Italian restaurant. Serving up quality pizzas and traditional Italian dishes like eggplant parmigiana, polpette, and carbonara, Luigi’s is a comforting haven of Italian cuisine.
Their dining menu is a collection of classics like risotto and gnocchi, but Il Verde is perhaps best known as the home of parmesan wheel pasta. It’s well worth a visit on Tuesdays and Thursdays when they roll out an entire wheel of cheese and swirl fresh spaghetti around inside it for an even coating.
Like something a bit more hands-on? Check out Brisbane's best pizzas.
Image credit: Hayley Williamson for The Urban List