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If you’re looking for authentic italian, Lygon Street is the place to go. Home to Melbourne’s Little Italy precinct, this is where Melbourne’s famous cafe culture was born! There are infinite options to pick from when it comes to restaurants, bars and cafés in Carlton.
Here’s our pick for the best spots for a night in Carlton starting with an Aperitivo and ending on a Gelato!
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Aperitivo is something like a pre-meal drink, accompanied by a small little bite. Of course, for italians the experience of aperitivo is a cultural ritual. The word derives from the Latin aperire, meaning “to open”, and in this way, “to have aperitivo” literally means to open up your stomach for what’s to come! Italians believe that “eating awakens the appetite” and who are we to question that?! Have a look at our favorite aperitivo spots in Carlton.
Vibrant and charming! The perfect place to set you in the right mood for the whole evening. Head to this joint if you’re looking for simply delicious pizzas or a packed meat and cheese board to share. Feel free to grab a glass of a refreshing Aperol spritz, a classic negroni or maybe a glass of full bodied italian vino. Check out their other venue, D.O.C. Espresso for your pasta fix.
📍 295 Drummond St, Carlton
This cozy, but super chic, bar/café is open day and night for you to enjoy simple, yet delicious, creations. Swing by for an early croissant and a coffee or, perhaps, for a lunch porchetta roll! One thing you must not miss is their cicchetti! These are small bites or snacks, similar to Spanish tapas but with a Venetian twist, which are perfectly matched with a spritz or any other option from their aperitivo cocktail selection.
📍 329 Lygon Street, Carlton
Although not exclusively Italian, we love this place for its infinite cheese selection from all over the world! Start your night with a cheese flight and some perfectly paired wine or perhaps with some fondue to share. For every taste, there’s a specific cheese awaiting.
📍 323 Lygon Street, Carlton
You’ve done aperitivo, you’ve awakened your hunger. Now it’s time to head for something more substantial.
If you’re on the lookout for a traditional, home-style cooked meal, then Bar Idda is just the place for you. Their menu has a focus on seasonal produce and is inspired by Sicilian cuisine, introducing hearty meals made to share. Unlike your familiar italian joints, Bar Idda stays away from the pizza and pasta you already know to bring you something special and different from a very particular region. Let yourself be immersed in the experience.
📍 132 Lygon St, Carlton
A classic, simple and very rustic pizza joint. It might not look like the fanciest of places, but that does not matter at all when the food in front of you is the main attraction. This pizzeria follows the Silician tradition of pizza making, bringing exciting toppings and a dough that is both fluffy and crispy at the same time. Don’t you dare miss the broccoli pizza. I know! Very odd… but delicious.
📍 19 Lincoln Square South, Carlton
Scopri means to “discover” in Italian and that is exactly what this restaurant allows you to do. The menu is based on the endless travels of Scopri’s owners. They’ve travelled across the regions of Italy discovering the diversity of its cuisine. At Scopri, you can find a seasonally varying menu showcasing dishes that represent each region of Italy. The perfect place for a date night or a celebratory meal.
📍 191 Nicholson Street, Carlton
You know there’s always space for dessert.
An extremely popular gelato house and the queue is SO worth it. Here you can find traditional gelato flavours like pistachio, coconut, ricotta and fig. The coolest thing, though, is they also have a chocolate tap that fills up the inside of your cone with dark, milk or white chocolate! A dream!
📍 299 Lygon Street Carlton
This is, without a doubt, a Carlton institution. Brunetti has been serving authentic Roman-Italian pastries and sweets for decades! Walking into their store in Carlton is an immersive experience as you soon evidence the biggest array of cakes, biscuits, pastries, pizzas and paninis. Another great thing about this place is that it closes late (at midnight on Friday and Saturday), so you have plenty of time to grab a coffee with your preferred sweet choice (or choices) after your meal.
📍 380 Lygon Street, Carlton
A traditional gelateria, this gelato bar has been operating since 1980! It has certainly won the hearts of locals due to the extreme creaminess of its gelato, but also because they’ve got 62 flavours to choose from!
📍 163 Lygon St, Carlton