Discover the tastiest Italian food in Newcastle
When it comes time to decide where to dine out, more often than not, I'm drawn to Italian food. I'm obsessive about this cuisine – its emphasis on using the best quality ingredients, simple but genius flavour pairings, and, of course, carbs, make it food I never get tired of.
Luckily in Newcastle, we're not short on outstanding Italian restaurants. Keep reading for our guide to Newcastle's best Italian restaurants, including some restaurants that aren't strictly Italian – but their take on Italian food is too good to leave out.
One of the newer additions to Newcastle's restaurant scene, alfie's has to be the chicest Italian joint in town. The divine Pizza Bread bears a resemblance to a dish from a certain Italian establishment in Sydney, but we reckon alfie's is even better. Smother it in an assortment of the restaurant's antipasti (we recommend the whipped ricotta with garlic and chilli oil). Or, use it for scarpetta – the act of scooping up the leftover pasta sauce on your plate with bread. No drop of sauce wasted.
Where: 2/52 Regent St, New Lambton
When Italy produces some of the world's most iconic food products – think prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella di bufala, and balsamic vinegar – dedicating a deli to these culinary treasures was a no-brainer for Italophile Will O'Brien. Arno Deli serves up unreal panini, snacks, and wine alongside its deli offering. Now open on a Friday night, enjoying an aperitivo at Arno Deli will have you feeling like you've been dropped into the streets of Florence.
Where: 181 King St, Newcastle
Italians essentially invented happy hour with aperitivo, and what better place for a vino and a snack (or a whole feast) than Bar Solè. This joint has a buzzing atmosphere, and will have you lingering into the night over a few drinks and pizzas, soundtracked by live music. The best part? Bar Solè is BYO, so you can choose a vino to suit your budget before devouring your pizza.
Where: 173 Maitland Rd, Tighes Hill
Basement on Market Street has long been an inner city favourite for Italian fare. It's an atmospheric spot perfect for a date night or a meal out with friends. Build your own antipasto to share, or choose from the classic Italian starters like Arancini, which change depending on the Chef's special. The Rigatoni Alla Vodka is a stand-out on the pasta menu, as is the Picante pizza. Basement on Market St is also known for its cocktails – the Limoncello Sorbita is an ideal accompaniment to an Italian feast.
Where: 2/2 Market St, Newcastle
Bella Italia is a delightful Italian experience, from the exposed brick walls, to the scent of freshly-baked pizzas, and the friendly staff. Pick one of the indulgent starters, like the Antipasto Bella Italia between two, then settle on a main from the whopping selection of dishes on offer – the Lella Porchetta is a highlight. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss Nic’s secret recipe Tiramisu or the Cannoli Siciliani. Bella Italia has one of the most extensive vegan menus in Newcastle, so those eating plant-based won't miss out on an Italian feed.
Where: 545 Hunter Street, Newcastle
With metre-long pizzas, stacks of pasta dishes, and creative cocktails on the menu, Criniti's has something for everyone. The wood-fired pizzas are a highlight of the huge menu, with a perfectly fluffy yet crisp base. With a menu this massive, you'll just have to come back again to try it all.
Where: Westfield Kotara Rooftop, Park Ave, Kotara
DiRoma has been a local favourite for authentic Roman pizza and pasta since its inception in 2017. Now with a second space in New Lambton, DiRoma certainly isn't slowing down. Expect classic pizza toppings plus DiRoma's own gourmet creations, all made from high quality, fresh ingredients.
Where: 144 Glebe Rd, Merewether | 52 Orchardtown Rd, New Lambton
Don Beppino's has been an iconic staple on Newcastle's Italian food scene for decades. The unmistakeable little house on Merewether's Railway Street, decorated in the colours of the Italian flag, has been an unwavering supplier of quality Italian takeaway for 50 years in 2023. You can't beat Don Beppino's for affordability either, making it the ideal spot to grab pasta and pizza when the Italian cravings hit.
Where: 45 Railway St, Merewether
We couldn't write this guide without including a Lake Macquarie favourite: Emilio's Ristorante. This restaurant is all about home-made, home-style Italian cooking – get togethers at Emilio's feel like you're guests in owner Angelina's home. Originally located in Darby Street, this restaurant has stood the test of time thanks to its extensive menu full of Italian favourites, friendly atmosphere, and fantastic service. Don't miss the gelato to finish off your meal.
Where: 75 King St, Warners Bay
Now, let's clear something up before we cause controversy – you definitely won't find a margherita pizza or spaghetti marinara at Humbug. What you will find are contemporary takes on Italian snacks and pasta, featuring traditional Italian ingredients like taleggio, radicchio, and cavolo nero, often with an Asian twist (daikon and gochujang star on the current menu). It's fusion cooking at its best, paired with a superb wine list focusing on small production, thoughtfully-made wines. Don't skip the heavenly focaccia.
Where: 87-89 Hunter St, Newcastle
In Forno's menu is staggering in size, but don't let that deter you – it just means more Italian goodness to choose from. In Forno Owner Harry is dedicated to using the best ingredients in his menu, including Caputo flour, which is made in Naples, the home of pizza. You can't go wrong with a classic like the Margherita pizza with tomato pulp, fior di latte, parmesan and basil (picked fresh from the garden). For something a bit different, try the Gorgonzola Dolce pizza with gorgonzola dolce cream, fior di latte, leg ham, mushrooms, and pistachio cream.
Where: 79-81 Beaumont St, Hamilton
Brought to you by the team behind Napoli Centrale and Poppolo Gelateria, Italy's Pantry is exactly what it sounds like – a spot for tucking into the best of Italy's produce, both dine-in and takeaway. The restaurant serves up a range of classic Italian starters, pastas, pizzas, and desserts, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options throughout the menu. Don't miss A'La Carbonara Sunday, where the team sling out proper carbonara – no cream in sight – with a Peroni or wine for just $20. Bellissimo.
Where: 3/18 Throsby St, Wickham
Lock's Paddock is home to what is perhaps one of the most iconic Italian dishes in Newcastle – cacio e pepe, a Roman pasta dish of cheese and pepper, served in a wheel of pecorino cheese. Its service at your table is every bit as dramatic as you'd hope it would be, but it's not all theatrics – the dish can hold its own on taste alone. This buzzy spot is a favourite for Italian cured meats, pasta, and mains, as well as dishes influenced by flavours across the Mediterranean.
Where: 16 Watt St, Newcastle
Masa Madre is serious about its pizza. The dreamy dough is 100% natural sourdough, made daily and fermented for at least 24 hours. Then it's hand-stretched, topped with Masa Madre's unique topping combinations, and cooked in a wood-fired oven. The result is some of the best pizza in Newcastle, spanning classic flavours like the margherita, to more inventive (but no less delicious) iterations like the Hot Hippie, with mushrooms marinated in fennel seeds, garlic, and olive oil, fresh kale, ricotta salata, and sun-dried chilli.
Where: 1/40 Railway St, Wickham
Head to King Street and you’ll find Napoli Centrale, creating authentic, hand-made Neapolitan pizzas. Peruse the menu for tasty pasta, calzone, and gnocchi, plus a selection of sweet treats. The authentic flavours and ingredients are not the only reason to visit to Napoli Centrale – there's plenty of Neapolitan theatre and entertainment too. As Alfonso says, "We're very loud when we cook," adding that, "We like our guests to see what’s going on in the kitchen and see the whole cooking process."
Where: 173 King St, Newcastle
Parry Street Garage's modern Italian menu has been winning over locals for nearly 10 years. The huge industrial chic space is a favoured spot for big group hangouts, or cosy dates by the bar. The Sweet Potato Gnocchi with cavolo nero, soft feta, toasted walnuts, and sage butter is a HUNTERhunter favourite, and we'd bet the Parry Street Garage team would struggle to ever take it off the menu without uproar from its loyal customers.
Where: 106 Parry St, Newcastle West
Get your authentic Italian fix at Sapori at Tailors. Run by Roman husband and wife duo Francesca and Fabrizio, Sapori at Tailors is a cosy spot to enjoy pizzas, pasta, antipasti, and sweets. Everything is made fresh each day, including the desserts, which are a stand-out on the menu. Expect a Roman influence over the menu, with specialities like gnocchi amatriciana and supplí making an appearance on the menu.
Where: 10 Beaumont St, Islington
Enjoy world-class views as you experience the relaxed atmosphere and modern menu at Surfhouse Italian. Expect a comprehensive list of starters and share plates, like Nduja, a spicy, spreadable salami with buffalo mozzarella, lemon, and wood-fired bread, and a decent selection of pastas and mains. Make sure you order a dessert to finish too – we can't go past the Torta Caprese, a warm, flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulis and mascarpone.
Where: 5 Henderson Parade, Merewether
Una Volta was inspired by owner Nikki's travels through Europe, particularly a small family-run trattoria her and her husband would visit in Italy, that changed up its menu each day depending on what was available. Bookings are essential at this Watt Street restaurant, where the 4-course set menu changes up each week.
Where: 23 Watt Street, Newcastle