Located in the Linden Woods suburbs, Bellissimo brings fine Italian dining beyond downtown and Little Italy. This sophisticated restaurant seamlessly blends Italian tradition with contemporary flourishes—from veal scaloppini to lobster mac and cheese—with enough variety to please all palates. Tender agnolotti make a satisfying vegetarian option, enrobing pockets of spinach, sweet mascarpone and spiced squash filling, and basted with a sage and brown butter sauce.
Location: 1-877 Waverley St, 204-489-0495
This cozy bistro has been tucked in its Lilac Street location since 1989. Classic Italian dishes spiked with global flavours and far-flung ingredients have given Café Carlo its status as a beloved destination for imaginative pastas. Don’t skip Chef David Hyde’s inspired curry cream pappardelle. The addition of curry paste kicks up the luscious sauce, sweetly balanced by apple and raisins.
Location: 243 Lilac St, 204-477-5544
This way-south St Vital restaurant wears its Italian heart on its sleeve, encouraging sharing familia style. Carb-ivores fall head over heels for Harth and its menu rife with spaghetti, gnocchi, rigatoni and more, freshly made in house. Soft tortellini, plump with a mixture of herbs and kale ricotta, are sauced in lemon-scented white wine sauce. It’s pasta perfection.
Location: 1-980 St Anne’s Rd, 204-255-0003
For more than 30 years, South Osborne mainstay Monticchios has been serving up Nonna-approved dishes worthy of old-country kitchens. The benchmark of any great Italian joint is its pastas and sauces, and Monticchios does it right—a taste of spaghetti and meatballs, penne arrabiato and baked ravioli will guarantee return visits. Fusilli alla pistachio is draped in nutty sauce, lifted by plenty of lemon, and tossed with chicken, sundried tomatoes and goat cheese.
Location: 684 Osborne St, 204-477-4773
Classic dishes with house-made everything are key to upholding rustic recipes at south end staple Nicolino’s. Sauces, dressings, bread and desserts are all made from scratch, but it is the pasta that’s the talk of the town—al denté fettuccine, delicate sheets of lasagna and pillowy gnocchi are but a few of the exquisite varieties made daily. Lasagna Emiliana, true to its namesake, is made in the style of the northern region, with tangy béchamel a revelatory addition to layers of Bolognese and gooey cheese.
Location: 4-2077 Pembina Hwy, 204-269-5004
Tre Visi Café
Italian food acolytes find the answer to their prayers at Tre Visi Café, where modern classics excite the palate. Nimbly executed house-made noodles are the draw here, yielding tender pasta with rich flavour. Penne campagnola is particularly divine, enriched by sweet Marsala cream sauce and finished with a generous sprinkling of chopped basil and Parmigiano.
Location: 926 Grosvenor Ave, 204-475-4447
The Mitchell Block
Mediterranean influences are evident in the masterfully plated dishes at The Mitchell Block, a mod Italian restaurant nestled in the red brick and wrought iron heart of the Exchange District. Chef/owner Sean McKay demonstrates his talent in the kitchen through classic preparations amped up with unexpected ingredients; look no further than fettuccine spiked with fermented chile, or beef ragu studded with cocoa nibs. Delicate, hand-formed agnolotti stuffed with sweet potato and bathed in browned butter sauce is a perennial favourite.
Location: 173 McDermot Ave, 204-949-9032