Italian. Ask anyone what their favourite cuisine is and, nine times out of 10, it'll be Italian. Pizza, pasta and antipasti—what's not to love? But not all Italian joints are created equal, so we've done the hard yards (and carbs!), to bring you our pick of the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast. Buon appetito!
One of the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast, and a firm favourite of The Urban List crew, is Palm Beach’s Balboa Italian. Like a glistening beacon of beauty on the Gold Coast Highway, this treasured neighbourhood haunt is serving the locals fine Italian fare with a contemporary twist, all in the most magnificent of settings. With towering ceilings, a grand chandelier and the perfect amount of rustic charm, Balboa’s decor is all kinds of Insta-worthy. Come prepared to devour plate after plate of antipasti, woodfired pizza, handmade pasta and risotto. Almost a year on from opening and this beauty still books out on the reg. So, if you arrive early, plonk yourself down at the sexy bar and sink an espresso martini to get yourself started.
A packed dining room seven nights, plus lunch Thursday to Sunday, is a testament to the young Carney brothers who introduced some of the most authentic Italian fare to the Gold Coast. Gemelli, translating to ‘twin’ in the mother tongue, is the original trattoria in this hospitality empire and is somewhat of an institution among pizza and pasta lovers. These handsome gents were making pasta sauce before most of us had learnt to read and write, and it’s their traditional recipes, passed through the generations, which are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike at their Broadbeach restaurant. Come for the woodfired pizzas, melted gnocchi bowls and those drool-worthy Nutella Bomba desserts. What do they say? Nom nom nom.
Goccia Italian Pizzeria
For top-notch pizza, pasta and share plates that won’t break the bank, it’s obvious why locals have fallen head over heels for Goccia. Cosy up inside close to the wood-fired pizza oven or dine alfresco under the festoon lights, Goccia (pronounced ‘gotcha’) is like a warm hug from family, made all the more authentic by the Italian accents taking your order with a smile. In all seriousness though, we’re going to be bold and claim Goccia are serving up some of the absolute best pizzas on the Gold Coast. Bellisimo!
Step past the open plan kitchen and crackling woodfired pizza oven and you’ll be transported to a little slice of the Amalfi Coast right here in Broadbeach. We love Cucina Vivo’s retro ‘60s colour palette of dusty pink and seafoam blue, decorated with oversized pendant lights, plantation-style shutters and a chic white terrace overlooking The Star’s sparkling resort pool. Work your way through a menu of antipasti, woodfired pizzas, handmade pastas and Alla Grigila mains (from the charcoal grill). Our tip? You must not leave without trying Cucina Vivo’s legendary Cioccolato Rosso Ferrari.
Isle of Capri
What will strike you first about Isle of Capri’s Cicchetti, aside from the contemporary dining room with floor to ceiling windows, grand vaulted roof and striking chandeliers, is the eatery’s finest asset—its staff. When the all-Italian team members constantly break into their mother tongue, you know you’re in for a fun night! Need to unwind on Friday with cocktails, live music and antipasti boards? After a romantic-but-not-too-intimate first date option or perhaps somewhere that welcomes the extended family (kids eat free on Sundays)? You’ll find what you’re looking for at this upmarket pizza and pasta bar. From traditional spaghetti al pomodoro to caserecce di montagna or pesce al cartoccio (AKA oven-baked barramundi with capers, tomatoes and olives) you’d better bring a dining partner that likes to share. For southerners who rarely venture north of Broadbeach, clearly you’re missing out on one of the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast.
The king of Italian food in Burleigh, Justin Lane has been providing a warm welcome to those seeking a charismatic dining experience since 2011. Hands down a local institution and one of the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast, there's a constant thrum to this fantastic spot. Get in early to nab a seat on the open-air terrace for a few Negronis in the late afternoon sunshine, before moving inside to a swanky leather banquette in the upstairs dining room or an intimate table for two in the festoon-lit arcade laneway. Our pick for dinner? The prawn, calamari and garlic woodfired pizza on sourdough never disappoints.
A charismatic new addition to the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast, we adore Surfers Paradise’s revamped The Island boutique hotel with its glittering downstairs bar and restaurant. A cracking new dining option in the heart of the city’s busiest tourist hub, this chic eatery has floor to ceiling wood panelling, a luxe marble-fronted bar, statement pendant lights, vintage prints and photos smattered across the walls and large windows if you just wanna linger over a glass of vino or craft beer while watching the world go by. But you’re here for the food and drinks obvs, so start with a crusty creation direct from the Naples-imported woodfired pizza oven before moving onto a flavour-packed plate of homemade truffle and ricotto gnoccho with mushrooms and braised duck. Next stop for a nightcap? The Island’s sprawling rooftop bar is crazy cool.
Baby brother to Broadbeach’s much-loved Gemelli Italian, you may be tempted to dine at Gemellini for the eye candy alone. Or not, we don’t mind. A refined addition to Nobby’s hipster scene and one of the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast, Gemellini is dishing up authentic woodfired pizzas and homemade pastas with recipes inherited from nonna. What ever you do, don’t leave without trying The Carne pizza with pomodoro base, salsicce (a house-made fennel pork sausage), ham and salami. Delish!
Another veteran among the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast, Ristorante Fellini has been operating, very successfully, for a staggering 21 years, so know you’re onto a winner. Located overlooking the water at stunning Marina Mirage, family-run Fellini has every element of Italian cuisine absolutely perfected. From meticulously crafted pasta and stuffed zucchini flowers to fresh-off-the-boat seafood, traditional desserts and an extensive wine list. With a team of heavyweight restaurateurs, chefs and sommeliers, Fellini is one of the city’s most respected institutions and will no doubt be sticking around for another few decades yet. Date night, anyone?
When Italian fare is this good, it’s worth hunting down. Which is exactly what you’ll need to do if you wanna try Gemelli Sorrento—one of the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast. With two thriving restaurants already under their belt, brothers Alec, James and Paul aspired to create a social meeting place for the neighbourhood of Sorrento, where residents could wine and dine without needing to drive or book a babysitter. With a menu bursting with Gemelli classics and authentic recipes from the motherland, for the rest of us, a drive into the backwaters of Broadbeach is definitely worth it to sample one of the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast. Oh, and did we mention it’s BYO?
Quickly earning itself a cult following in Coolangatta, we reckon Francie’s pizzeria is one of the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast if you find yourself wandering around the southern end with a hunger you need to crush. With cool vibes, a laidback local clientele, hip staff and wood-fired neo-Neapolitan-style pizzas featuring cheeky names like Pears Brosnan and Cheese Louise (not to mention an entire vegan pizza menu!), Francie’s is unassuming but a total fan favourite.
Double Zero take a very traditional approach to their craft, creating pizza exactly as they are made at their birthplace in Naples, Italy; which of course means an authentic woodfired oven, traditional cheeses and true, Italian flavours. So it’s no surprise they’re certified by Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana as one of Australia’s most authentic Italian pizzerias. An impressive feat indeed and good reason to hop in and try Double Zero’s genuine Napoletana creations for yourself or, better yet, book in for a pizza making master class and learn the true art form direct from the professionals. Belissimo!
You know if your Italian dinner destination is called Mario’s, you’re in good hands. There’s also a good chance you’re going to upload an Instagram photo of your enormous and indulgent meal with #carbloading #foodporn #doyouevenpasta. With a staggering 20-plus pizzas to tempt you, from the simple Capricciosa to the Zingara with garlic prawns, spinach and camembert, it’s inevitable you’ll be rolling outta here. Undergoing a mega transformation in early 2017, after 18 years on the scene and a big favourite with both locals and tourists, it would be a crime to leave Mario’s off a list of the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast.
Salt Meats Cheese
Salt Meats Cheese in Surfers Paradise is a hot contender among the best Italian restaurants on the Gold Coast. This vibrant, casual bistro serves up classic, tasty Italian cuisine with some special twists thrown in for good measure—spaghetti served from a wheel of cheese, anyone? Start your meal off with a loaded platter of imported cheese and cured meats then move onto their range of delicious pastas. On a budget? Salt Meats Cheese’s weekly $10 lunch special gets you a personal woodfired pizza with a glass of vino or beer for just five bucks more or, go for $25 all-you-can-eat pizza on Mondays. We call bargain.
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Image credit: Hayley Williamson for The Urban List