The round-up: feast like royalty at Brisbane’s best Italian restaurants
We’ve already delivered our verdict on Brisbane’s finest pizza parlours and pasta spots, but we couldn’t take ourselves seriously if we didn’t acknowledge Italian cuisine at large. Brisbane is flush with authentic Italian eateries, from the ultra-modern fine-dining sort to the rustic family-oriented restaurants. If you’ve been hankering for some hearty fare, it’s near impossible to look past Italian. In no particular order, here are some of our picks for Brisbane’s best Italian restaurants. Spettacolare!
OTTO Ristorante, South Bank: Renowned as one of the best restaurants in Brisbane, OTTO Ristorante at 480 Queen Street has earned its rep with its fresh, seasonal and produce-driven cuisine inspired by the southern regions of Italy. Head Chef Will Cowper lets the ingredients speak for themselves, with stunning dishes such as zucchini flowers with ricotta, pecorino and parmesan, spaghettini with champagne lobster, garlic and chilli, Gooralie pork jowl with pickled pear and fennel, and butterflied spatchcock with pancetta, white beans and cotechino.
Biànca, Fortitude Valley: Pairing an eye-pleasing, peach-hued interior aesthetic with tongue tantalising flavours has proven to be a winner at Biánca, which has become one of Brisbane’s most popular Italian restaurants since opening in 2021. Folks flock to this trattoria for its astounding antipasti (the mortadella, whipped ricotta with Jeruselem artichoke and fried scamorza and tomato risotto are winners), pasta (the paccheri al pomodoro with stracciatella is a must), and mains like cotoletta di pollo, wagyu bistecca alla Fiorentina and porchetta alla Romana.
1889 Enoteca, Woolloongabba: This intimate award-winning restaurant specialises in Roman fare and handmade pasta, not to mention an incredible wine selection to boot. The Roman-style eats include fried artichoke with gremolata and lemon mascarpone, rigatoni ‘all’amatriciana’ with tomato sugo, guanciale and Pecorino Romano, and the saltimbocca alla Romana – that is veal with prosciutto, sage, broccolini and lemon.
Beccofino, Teneriffe: Teneriffe mainstay Beccofino rarely fails to deliver, especially when it comes to unctuous pasta sauces, rich meat dishes, wood-fired pizzas and delicious dolci. Regulars rave about dishes such as the flat-ribbon pasta with a duck and tomato ragu, crispy skin boneless chicken Maryland with roasted kipfler potatoes, cime di rapa and an anchovy lemon dressing, and vanilla-bean pannacotta with poached rhubarb, pears and spiced crumbled biscotti.
La Lupa, West End: At La Lupa, diners are encouraged to eat and drink like the Romans do! Offering a selection of Italian bites, Roman-style pizzas and an incredible range of natural wines and craft beer, loyal fans come from far and wide to sample the fare. Here, the signature-long fermented pizza (called lupacchiotti) topped with the likes of prosciutto di Parma, whipped tomato and burrata is a must-try item. Beyond that, you can’t go wrong with sea urchin spaghetti carbonara, braised Angus cheek with lemon potato puree and burrata with prosciutto and pickled fennel.
Sasso Italiano, Woolloongabba: Want a restaurant dripping in style and a menu of indelible Italian eats? Meet Sasso – a restaurant oozing personality in spades. Sasso Italiano’s menu is an ode to unctuous family-style Italian cuisine, delivering home-style fare elegantly. Think puffy pane served next to a plate of burrata with bagna cauda, wakame and capers bread crumble, Tuscan steak with bone-marrow butter, raviolone with ricotta, yolk and burnt butter, braised pork and beef meatballs and fancy negronis.
Rosmarino, Fortitude Valley: This intimate ristorante and wine bar presents Italian cuisine in an elevated manner, with head chef Dario Manca turning out a menu of contemporary eats like Sardinian-inspired culurgiones alle Castagne (three ravioli filled with noisette chestnut puree and bathed in burnt butter and sage sauce), pappardelle with roasted Maremma duck ragu and steak al cioccolato (grilled tri-tip, dry aged in white chocolate with black bagna cauda anchovy sauce). Rosmarino’s hand-curated and award-winning wine list (featuring drops from Mount Etna) is also worth a browse!
Elementi, Paddington: With a team helmed by a trio of ex-Julius Pizzeria and Beccofino veterans, you know you’re in good hands. Elementi’s menu traverses the width and breadth of traditional Italian cuisine, including pitch-perfect woodfired pizzas (of special note is the panotto, a large pizza panini filled with mozzarella, mortadella and pistachio béchamel), squid-ink tagliatelle with mussels, prawns and clams, and fried smoked mozzarella with eggplant caponata, anchovy and sage oil.
Bar Alto, New Farm: Known to many as the best spot to grab a pre- or post-show drink at the Brisbane Powerhouse, Bar Alto is also an underrated source of incredible Italian fare. If you’ve got time to pop in for dinner, you simply must sample the Venetian-style calf’s liver with smoked mash, pappardelle with a rich goat ragu, gnocchi with local spanner crab, and bistecca alla Fiorentina.
Tartufo, Fortitude Valley: A quintessential Italian dining experience is more than just food – attentive service and a lively atmosphere is just as important. At Tartufo, you get an authentic dose of all three aspects. Head chef Tony Peruoco specialises in authentic traditional Naples-inspired food (and flavours from surrounding areas of Tuscany, Umbria and Abruzzo), working with local suppliers to find the best ingredients for Tartofu’s seasonal menu.
Il Posto, Paddington: This Latrobe Terrace eatery is self-styled as ‘the place’ to go for authentic Italian fare. We’re inclined to believe them – especially after looking over the lengthy menu of antipasti, pasta, pizzas and mains! We suggest sampling the slow-braised veal shank with root vegetables, red wine and soft polenta, the fresh-egg pappardelle with twice-cooked duck and porcini mushroom ragu, and the Argentinian red prawn pizza, with mozzarella, marinated zucchini and toasted bread crumbs.
Julius Pizzeria, South Brisbane: Beccofino’s younger sibling continues the family lineage of incredible Italian fare, paying homage to the time-honoured classics, but not shying away from a sprinkle of modern techniques and tastes. A salivation-inducing range of red and white-base pizzas are joined by mains such as grilled free-range pork chop wrapped in sage and pancetta, seared beef carpaccio with marinated artichokes, and grilled Western Australian octopus with salmoriglio and a salad of chickpeas, olives, cucumber and cherry tomatoes.
Mosconi, Fortitude Valley: The team that originally opened beloved New Farm restaurant vibe expanded in 2019, heading to James Street to open cosy Italian eatery Mosconi. Although there’s a general European focus, Italian flavours are a standout. Dishes such as the potato gnocchi with gorgonzola and roasted beets, truffle pappardelle with osso buco, marrow and aged reggiano, and pork cotoletta with cauliflower puree and nectarine salad are must-try options.
Persone, Brisbane City: Persone – the Italian-centric eatery from acclaimed hospitality family the Gambaro Group – looks to break the mould of tradition with its menu. Regional favourites are brought to life with modern techniques and high-quality produce, with imaginative dishes including the tuna crudo with negroni syrup, the rabbit ragu with pecorino and herb crumb, crumbed veal cutlet with lemon and rocket, and the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, which continues the Gambaro’s famed steak lineage in the form of a one-kilogram T-bone that has been aged for three weeks.
Gusto Da Gianni, Hamilton: Gianni Greghini’s beloved riverside eatery is a top spot to enjoy Italian cuisine with a view. While the Brisbane River gently flows nearby, enjoy bites from the antipasti bar or tuck into something larger – we suggest the maccheroni all’ abbruzzese with veal mince and porcini mushroom ragu, the pan-seared barramundi with lemon zest crushed potatoes, wild broccolini and salsa verde, or tempura-battered zucchini flowers stuffed with goats cheese and topped with an olive tapenade. Gianni hasn’t stopped with his long-running Hamilton restaurant – be sure to also scope out Gianni’s Kitchen and Florentine Italian Grill and Wine Room, both in Newstead.
Osteria Epoca, Yeronga: Nestled in the heart of Yeronga is a cafe, bar and alimentari that draws upon a storied lineage of home-style Italian cuisine. Inspired by the food of his youth – homemade pasta, the rich flavours of marinated vegetables and school lunches of salumi – Lorenzo Nobilio of Osteria Epoca is bringing these memories to life. Braised beef ribs with polenta and grilled radicchio, ricotta tortiglioni with pancetta, peas, mint and caramelised balsamic, and Piedmontese-style raw beef with truffle and crostini are just some of the dishes carrying authentic tastes of the past.
Pasta Club, West End: With a name like Pasta Club, you know that the menu here bound to be filled with pure Italian goodness. This happening spot is constantly abuzz with animated diners chatting over plates of pasta (made using locally sourced flour and organic eggs) while the sound of vinyl records fills the air.
Colle Rosso Ristorante Italiano, Red Hill: Colle Rosso’s traditional and rustic approach to Italian cuisine is what draws in locals every week for dine-in and takeaway. With a menu that mixes local produce with products that can only be obtained from Italian suppliers, Colle Rosso’s menu boasts the best of both worlds. We’re day-dreaming over dishes including Colle Rosso’s homemade potato gnocchi in pumpkin cream with prosciutto and goat cheese, roasted pork sausage served with black beans and cherry tomato sauce, and the classic four-cheese pizza.
Gemelli Italian, Fortitude Valley: Though a relative newcomer on the Brisbane scene, Gemelli is already an established presence on the coast with a loyal following enamoured with its home-style menu of eats. Beyond a terrific range of on red- and white-based pizzas, saucy pasta and antipasti, Gemelli on James Street is a great spot for vitello saltimbocca, grilled West Australian tender octopus and melanzane alla parmigiana.
Mina Italian, Bulimba: Though Fortitude Valley’s Roman-inspired Italian restaurant Eterna may have closed, its spirit lives on at Mina – the bright, Mediterranean-inspired eatery now open on Oxford Street in Bulimba. Here, guests can dine in the venue’s shaded alfresco space and devour coal-cooked dry-aged lamb skewers, veal carpaccio and figs with bufala, or go big with plates of bistecca di manzo, free-range chicken saltimbocca and osso bucco with polenta.
New Farm Deli and Cafe, New Farm: New Farm Deli and Cafe is a local institution, full of continental delights from cold meats to handmade gelato and gourmet provisions. Not only can you get your hands on smallgoods and take-home meals, the cafe also dishes up all-day breakfast bites, fresh salads, traditional pasta dishes and more. Pop in and sample the likes of the Sicilian brekkie with Sicilian-style pork-and-fennel sausage sautéed with a ‘caponata’ of roasted capsicum, onion, spinach and potato, beef meatballs simmered in Napoli sauce and tossed through spaghetti, or ricotta ravioli that has been cooked in creamy truffle and mushroom sauce and finished with shaved parmesan and truffled pecorino.
Honourable mentions: Italian is undoubtedly one of Brisbane’s most popular cuisines, and it would be next to impossible to feature all the amazing restaurants here. That being said, we’d like to give special shot-outs to some eateries delivering some terrific Italian or Italian-inspired fare in their own right. Check out Massimo Restaurant & Bar on Eagle Street, Ronnie’s Clubhouse in Middle Park, Bella Cosi in Chermside, Barolos in Toowong, La Costa Restaurant and Ripiena in Fortitude Valley, Popolo Italian Bar & Kitchen in South Bank, New Farm’s Casa Italia Community Centre, Tocco Italiano in Chelmer, Polpetta and Ciao Papi at the Howard Smith Wharves, Salt Meats Cheese in Newstead, Casa Cibo in Chermside, Bulimba’s Il Molo, Il Verde on King Street, Pizzeria Violetta in Kenmore, and The Spaghetti House Trattoria in South Bank.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.