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Food options on table at Ragazzi
Photograph: Leigh Griffiths

The best Italian restaurants in Sydney

From fine dining to casual eating to classic pizzerias, it's our ultimate guide to Italian in Sydney

By Time Out editors
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Italian food is the unofficial second cuisine of Sydney (the first being Thai). Many of the city's best fine dining and casual eateries have heavily Italian influenced menus, and while good pizzerias and dirt-cheap red sauces places are harder to find than the poshest stuff, there are still spades of options to choose from. We've picked our favourites from every style, so no matter what mood you're in, there's something here for you. 

Not in the mood for pasta? There are also killer spots for Indian, Japanese and Korean in Sydney.

RECOMMENDED: The 50 best restaurants in Sydney.

The best Italian restaurants in Sydney

Bolognaise at Fratelli Paradiso
Photograph: Anna Kucera

1. Fratelli Paradiso

Restaurants Potts Point

What is it? A Potts Point restaurant boasting a full house rain, hail or shine, excellent service and a super-interesting wine list. What's good? All of it, but specifically risotto all’Ametriciana sees pearly, round little grains of rice cooked al dente with a chilli, fresh marjoram, fine shavings of Parmesan and thin stubs of pancetta, spread out in a thin layer over a shallow dish.
Dress up or down? Up. It's a Euro-leaning crown with designer duds and great hair.

10 William St
Photograph: Anna Kucera

2. 10 William Street

Restaurants Italian Paddington

What is it? A famously tiny wine bar that's a dinner destination thanks to it's incredible kitchen. People love it fiercely and getting in can be tricky.
What's good? Once the aroma of shellfish, garlic, and chilli in the tangled thicket of spaghettini hits you, you may as well relinquish your evening plans – and your budget for that matter. The only way out of a night of incredible wines and Italianish food at 10 William Street is through it.
Dress up or down? Up. The food is so good here it warrants a little fine tailoring, but if you're coming through after work that's AOK too.

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At Bondi Icebergs Dining
Photograph: Anna Kucera

3. Icebergs Dining Room and Bar

Restaurants Bondi Beach

What is it? The prima donna of statement dining destinations. This ludicrously beautiful dining room perched above Bondi Beach is a feast for the eyes as well as the belly.
What's good? Now's the time to luxuriate in the sweet life. There's caviar and truffles on the menus at the right time of year; pasta that plays with Asian influences, like a kangaroo ragu with XO; and a classic bistecca.
Dress up or down? Up! In the strongest terms. There's so many beautiful tanned blondes in here it may as well be the dining halls of Valhalla. Dress up, wear white, don a statement hat. It all flies here.

Cavatelli with sausage and pipis at Ragazzi
Photograph: Leigh Griffiths

4. Ragazzi

Restaurants Italian Sydney

What is it? The third venture from the Love, Tilly Devine and Dear Sainte Éloise crew, which combines some of the biggest trends of the past five years or so: natural wines; a nascent obsession with amaro; an interest in lesser-seen pasta shapes; the resurgence of fat; strong, graphic branding; a preference for snacking; Spritzes; Negronis; anchovies; butter.
What's good?
Cacio e pepe comes with good levels of warmth and sharpness, plus some sweet heat from Espelette pepper; a glorious goat rotolo, meanwhile, sees the braised meat rolled into a sheet of pasta, sliced into rounds and served in nut-brown butter with a blob of stracciatella.
Dress up or down? Casually up. Lush neutrals is the design brief, so crack out those unbranded tees, beautifully cut trousers and camel coats.

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Food spread at Totti's Bondi
Photograph: Anna Kucera

5. Totti's

Restaurants Italian Bondi

What is it? Bondi’s bright and airy lunchtime scene is an Italian restaurant tucked inside an old pub like some sort of dining hermit crab. Out in the sunny, white courtyard, beneath the skinny branches of two olive trees, Bondi’s most stylish gather for long lunches (oh look, it’s the Preatures). 
What's good? Your approach depends on your attention span. Do you want a plate of pasta all to yourself, or is it more fun to order puffy rounds of bread fresh out of the wood fired oven and then sift slowly through the antipasto menu like happily grazing cattle? We think the latter.
Dress up or down? You choose. The dress code here is properly casual so you could be just as comfy in a sundress as a linen suit. You do you.

Food in a bowl at Kindred Darlington
Photograph: Anna Kucera

6. Kindred

Restaurants Italian Chippendale

What is it? A cosy, low lit, intimate terrace dining room that strikes all the right notes for romantic Latin feasting.
What's good? Matt Pollock's skills with pasta dough have garnered him a loyal following, so this is a good place to make cashing that cheat day carb pass. The carrot triangoli is still on the menu for good reason; parcels of savoury sweet carrot swimming in melted butter with the insistent funk of goat's cheese for balance and scattered pistachios for texture.
Dress up or down? Both. This is one of those mid-tier diners that Sydney does so well, which means your morning market clothes are just as appropriate as your slinkier duds.

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Margherita Pizza Madre
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

7. Pizza Madre

Restaurants Pizza Marrickville

What is it? An all vegetarian (and sometimes vegan) pizza restaurant that is sleek, modern, and delicious. This tiny corner pizzeria is the latest venue for Piero Pignatti Morano and Kim Douglas, the A-team behind the ever-popular Two Chaps café (also vegetarian), located only blocks away.
What's good? Their Margherita is as good as any in Sydney, but where they really stretch their creative muscles is on the vegan pizzas. They change regularly, so maybe it's seasoned broccoli puree scattered with a rainbow medley of fresh tomato with pine nuts and chilli; or perhaps they've smoked Brussels sprouts and layered them with bitter rapini and sweet caramelised onion.
Dress up or down? Down. This is very much a neighbourhood haunt with takeaway boxes flying out the door as often as people meander in for a table.

Food at Ciccia Bella
Photograph: Anna Kucera

8. CicciaBella

Restaurants Italian Bondi Beach

What is it? A Bondi Italian restaurant swinging effortlessly between snacks, pasta and things from the wood oven.  It pours wine with a natural lean from both here and the Bel Paese and is run by one of the city’s most astute hospitality groups.
What's good? A raggedy maltagliati sauced with braised rabbit ragù and topped with toasted pistachios is masterful – sweet from a glug of vermouth, rich, and without a hint of dryness. No one really cooks rabbit, this dish asks why the hell not.
Dress up or down? Up. It's Bondi, and it's a Terzini restaurant (of Icebergs fame) so it never hurts to be a little overdressed for dinner.

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Outside at Restaurant Leo
Photograph: Daniel Boud

9. Restaurant Leo

Restaurants Sydney

What is it? A new city diner from Lumi Dining owner and chef, Federico Zanellato, and ex-Oscillate Wildly restaurateur Karl Firla, tucked into the laneway between Ash Street and the birdcages of Angel Place.
What's good? A plate of koshihikari risotto dyed heavy metal black with squid ink is one of the city's most luxe plates of rice. A scattering of fresh green peas break up this silky suspension, and any sauce left over should be mopped up with the light-as-air house focaccia.
Dress up or down? Upwardly. It's in the CBD so smart jackets are the most common clothing item on the diners in our midst.

Food spread at Marta
Photograph: Anna Kucera

10. Marta

Restaurants Darlinghurst

What is it? A classic Italian restaurant with a sharp focus on all things Roman. This is where you can take a dining chair tour of Italy's capital, with a greatest hits menu inspired by the ten years Flavio Carnevale spent there as a young man. 
What's good? Ever had fried gnocchi? The little golden, crunchy nuggets come dressed in pecorino and black pepper, like a deconstructed cacio e pepe.
Dress up or down? Upward. In this neck of the woods even the casual outfits are quality, well-cut garments so aim for a credit average on the outfit stakes.

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Food at Otto Wooloomooloo
Photograph: Anna Kucera

11. Otto Ristorante Sydney

Restaurants Italian Woolloomooloo

What is it? This is a long-serving Italian restaurant with some of the most enviable water-front seats in Sydney, and a die hard fan base who love a long lunch with pasta and wine.
What's good?
You know a restaurant has the heart of the city when they try and take a dish off the menu and the hysterics can be heard across the city. That's what happened when Otto tried to remove their al dente strozzapreti with whole king prawns, salty black olives, and a rich ragu made with calamari from the list.
Dress up or down? Up. A fresh haircut wouldn't look out of place here, nor would Europe's latest looks.

A dish of fried zucchini flowers with a lemon wedge at Sagra
Photograph: Anna Kucera

12. Sagra

Restaurants Darlinghurst

What is it? This low key establishment in Darlinghurst belies its kitchen credentials. You don’t come to Sagra to show off. It’s not about pomp or prestige, any more than fiddly garnishes or fancy plating. But taking someone there will impress them, because this is one of Sydney’s most beloved modern Italians. What's good? The pasta is ace; the seafood fresh and unfussy; the wines are quiet achievers. The menu is kept short and changes regularly but the format stays the same.
Dress up or down? In between. This is a comfortable mid-tier restaurant that won't break the bank but can level up if there's something to celebrate.

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Broccoli pizza at Matteo, Double Bay
Photograph: Anna Kucera

13. Matteo

Restaurants Italian Double Bay

What is it? A slice of the Adriatic in the middle of Double Bay is a sure fire bet for a good time. The big, open, white space is relaxed and elegant (so are the staff, for that matter).
What's good? They put a whole orb of burrata on a pizza decked out in greens to balance that rich creaminess, or for snacky things, the lamb skewers are a must order.
Dress up or down? Both. Double Bay is the kind of place where people wear haute couture brands on a Tuesday, but it's also commonplace to see big family groups here.

Food at Alberto's Lounge
Photograph: Daniel Boud

14. Alberto's Lounge

Restaurants Italian Sydney

What is it? The Italian sibling of the CBD's favourite French bistro, Hubert. Alberto's is a tonier version where bucatini and gnocchi share your table with tripe and very expensive wine.
What's good? They're famous for their long noodles, be it bucatini in red sauce or thin spaghetti with prawns.
Dress up or down? Like its French brother, Alberto is a man about town and dresses to impress, so you might want to as well.

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Steak and broccoli at Pino Vino e Cucina
Photograph: Anna Kucera

15. Pino's Vino e Cucina

Restaurants Italian Alexandria

What is it? Like an oasis in the desert, a charming Italian trattoria is the last thing you expect to find in the quiet backstreets of residential Alexandria, especially one with a winning combo of dark timber, warm candlelight and soft leather banquettes.
What's good? A full kilo of Black Angus t-bone steak served on the bone with grilled lemon to cut through all that beautiful grain-fed fat.
Dress up or down? Are you on a date? Up. Treating yourself to a nice night out? Comfy casual is just fine.

at The Dolphin Hotel, Surry Hills
Photograph: Anna Kucera

16. The Dolphin Hotel Dining Room

Restaurants Italian Surry Hills

What is it? All the glamour and glitz of a Bondi Italian diner transported to the inside of an old pub on Crown Street. The Dolphin Hotel is owned by Maurice Terzini, the man behind Icebergs and Da Orazio, and he’s brought everything but the sand with him.
What's good? The wood-fired oven in the kitchen is pulling overtime, servicing the formal dining room as well as the public bar and terrace. But for our money it's all about the wine bar for snacks and exciting vino, with a killer tiramisu for dessert.
Dress up or down? Fashionably down, which is up in a lot of people's book.

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Preparing steak at Bistecca
Photograph: Anna Kucera

17. Bistecca

Restaurants Italian Sydney

What is it? A hidden steak restaurant behind a cocktail bar in a city basement with a open hearth at its centre.
What's good? This basement restaurant is devoted to Florence’s famous T-bone steaks. They recommend 600g as the minimum cut to achieve the full bistecca Fiorentina experience (anything less is getting to minute steak territory), but 800g is optimal.
Dress up or down? Upish. After-work drop ins make up a lot of the crowd here, so "business" is the major dress code.

Water exterior at Ormeggio at The Spit
Photograph: Anna Kucera

18. Ormeggio at The Spit

Restaurants Mosman

What is it? Ormeggio, the jewel of the Spit, has had a refresh in 2020 and is now a meat-free dining destination with an a la carte seafood menu care of new head chef Gianmarco Pardini, and a more casual vibe.
What's good? In addition to things like tuna crudo, picked spanner crab and swordfish tonnato, they're also offering a super luxe mud crab dish for two, served with a tomato risotto and the claws grilled over charcoal. 
Dress up or down? Up. It might be aiming at a more casual dining experience but this is still waterfront dining in Sydney's ultra-blue ribbon region so dress like you might have regular access to a yacht.

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Pizza oven at Maybe Frank
Photograph: Katje Ford

19. Maybe Frank

Restaurants Surry Hills

What is it? There's not many better places for bitter Italian Aperitif cocktails, wood-fired pizzas, classic lasagne and banter than this jovial Italian dining room in the gusty complex at the base of the St Margarets apartment building on Bourke Street.
What's good? Get the pizza. Get one each. Get one with eggplant and salami and taleggio washed rind cheese, or one with tomato sauce, mozzarella, capers, anchovies, olives, oregano, and basil for an all umami jamboree.
Dress up or down? Down. This is just as good for a weeknight flyby as a birthday all-you-can-eat celebration.

Food at Lucio's Paddington
Photograph: Kai Leishman

20. Lucio's Italian Restaurant

Restaurants Italian Paddington

What is it? This is the restaurant that schools the old school. It's a white tablecloth mainstay with walls filled with art and wines that go down too easy.
What's good? Thin green strands of pasta interlaced with blue swimmer crab, bound with tomato are always a safe bet. Or for wintery tastes, order roast duck with pickled cherries, chicory and poached fennel.
Dress up or down? Up, but don't look like you tried too hard. Like an architect who lived it up in Sydney's heyday and now owns a five-story terrace and has theatre subscriptions.

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A shot of the Margherita pizza at Da Mario
Photograph: Anna Kucera

21. Da Mario

Restaurants Rosebery

What is it? A classic pizza, pasta, wine and good times restaurant in an expansive corner of the Cannery is Rosebery. It's accessible, casual, warm and affordable. Don't try and tell us that isn't a recipe for a nice time.
What's good? There's the Margherita 'extra' (the extra is buffalo mozzarella), as well as their wonderfully simple patate (potato, rosemary, sea salt).
Dress up or down?

Tablelay at Lumi, Pyrmont
Photograph: Anna Kucera

22. LuMi

Restaurants Darling Harbour

What is it? A modern Italian-Japanese fine diner with extensive glass walls balanced out on a wharf – it feels as if you’re almost floating on the harbour, surrounded as you are by water. 
What's good? Technique and seasonality are watchwords here, and the menu is an ever-changing beast, but prepare to be surprised and delighted. Here a minestrone is not a bean soup, but almost like a colourful ballpit of fresh veg in a gentle miso broth.
Dress up or down? Up. You're in serious power lunch territory, and the casino is right behind you so a freshly pressed collar wouldn't go astray.

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23. Pilu at Freshwater

Restaurants Freshwater

What is it? An aspirational Sardinian fine diner in an old weatherboard house perched above the golden sands of Freshwater beach. It's like you've teleported to a summer holiday location for the duration of your meal.
What's good? Chef Giovanni Pilu created one of those dishes that make dining here a destination all on its own. The slow roasted suckling pig is part of SYdney dining folklore, with meltingly tender flesh and golden skin, served with potatoes.
Dress up or down? All the way up, with a coastal bent. This is special occasion dining that people travel for.

24. Bar Reggio

Restaurants Darlinghurst

What is it? A cheap as chips red sauce joint in Darlinghurst that's popular with the after school crowds from Sydney Grammar up the road, and later on caters to the pre-party crowds with cheap pizzas and BYO.   
What's good? The pasta comes in 20 different flavours, the risotto comes in eight and the steaks even count a proper Diane sauce amongst the options.
Dress up or down? Both. If you're just here for dinner there's no need for popped collars, but if you're starting here before the party you could roll in decked out in sequins and no one would blink.

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25. Bar Italia

Restaurants Leichhardt

What is it? One of those long-standing red sauce joints in Sydney's little Italy where you can eat here for under $16, there's excellent gelati for dessert, and if you've taken a punt on a date you're not sure about, it's loud enough to hide the awkward silences.
What's good? You want the pasta, be it fettucini Amatricana or tortellini boscaiola. It's all about the crowd-pleasing favourites, followed by coffee strong enough to stand a spoon in, fresh cannoli and tiramisu gelato.
Dress up or down? Down. This is a convivial family-friendly restaurant so wear clothes you don't mind getting Napoletana sauce on.

After a slice?

A margherita in a take away cardboard box at The Pizza Box
A margherita in a take away cardboard box at The Pizza Box
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The best pizza in Sydney

Restaurants Italian

Throwing all carb-caution to the wind, Time Out Sydney has gone on an eating rampage through Sydney's pizza restaurants to track down the city's best. You're welcome. Now get thee to a pizzeria!

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