The polls are in and the votes have been cast; Italian is undoubtedly one of our favourite cuisines and, with one of Australia's largest Italian communities, Melbourne is home to many of our top restaurants. From Lygon street and beyond, here are our top picks. Mangia!
With its New York bistro style, Sarti is a refreshingly modern restaurant, right in the heart of Melbourne's CBD. Creativity is served in abundance with dishes such as pork belly and fillet, served with salsa verde, green apple and baby onion or 2 Points lamb rack and fillet with pistachio crumbed bone marrow and Jerusalem artichokes. The menu is sharp and so is the wine list but if you don't know your stuff, don't worry, the sommelier will hold your hand and guide you through the lengthy list.
This is not only one of the best Italian restaurants, Il Bacaro is also one of the most romantic restaurants in Melbourne. The intimate Little Collins Street space delivers a menu that treads a fine line between bistro classics and contemporary Italian dishes.
With commanding views over the bustle of Flinders Lane, The Italian is tucked inside a trendy Collins Street Office building. This expansive marble restaurant is a beautiful ensemble of moody dark timber panelling, lush red leather banquettes and crisp white linens, providing the perfect setting to enjoy modern Italian fare.
Named after owner and wine grower, Ronnie Di Stasio, this restaurant is one of Melbourne's most popular eateries. Start with a drink at Bar Di Stasio next door, before enjoying classic Italian dishes such as oven roasted suckling pig and pork and beef ragout with handmade spaghetti.
From Thai to Italian, Baby is the mastermind of Chin Chin restaurateur and owner Chris Lucas. The pizza here is not your ordinary sort; the base is made with Caputo Molino 00 flour imported from Naples and, while not traditional, there's also speciality pan-fried and grilled pizzas.
In the midst of one of Melbourne's most popular dining precincts, Bottega has stood the test of time. Sink into plush leather seat set beneath soft teardrop lights; Bottega is great spot for a pre-theatre dinner, or skip the show and order another glass of vino.
He may not be renowned for his Italian cooking but Neil Perry' s professionalism and expertise has resulted in another cuisine conquered. Next door to Rockpool Bar & Grill in the Crown Casino, Rosetta's menu pays homage to Italy's diverse regional fare with 16 handmade pastas on offer combined with a handful of dishes that employ the restaurant's wood-fire oven and chargrill. The wine features 700-plus wines, of mostly Italian varietals.
Lygon Street will never be short of a pizza kitchen, but few are as serious about the art of pizza as 400 Gradi Pizzeria. Owner Johnny Di Francesco has sent all his chefs to Naples to receive the required training - from none other than the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana - bringing authentic Naples-style pizza to Melbourne. The margarita, while simple, remains a crowd favourite.
The classic Italian menu at this art deco Richmond restaurant gets a modern Australian interpretation, thanks to the extensive use of Victorian regional produce. Housed in a giant old metalworks building, Church Street Enoteca is consistently good - with BYO Mondays and superb lunch deals, drawing in a crowd on a daily basis.
Chef Guy Grossi's Italian empire now spans across two levels with four dining areas; Ombra, Florentino Grill, Cellar Bar and Grossi Florentino Upstairs. The essence of Grossi Florentino Upstairs is accessible luxury and timeless Italian style, which is evident in the grandeur of the Renaissance-inspired decor. The modern Italian menu is equally lavish.