The 20 Best Italian Restaurants in Cape Town

The 20 Best Italian Restaurants in Cape Town

Warm family trattorias and cool urban eateries in the Mother City.

From melt-in-the-mouth melanzane to irresistible tiramisu and perfectly prepared pizza and pasta, Italian cuisine is so darn delicious, and hard to beat in terms of the satisfaction quotient.

Whether you’re looking for an old-school trattoria, an edgy underground eatery that serves scintillating small plates and the sexiest aperitivi and cocktails in town, or a cosy café, Cape Town’s best Italian restaurants offer something for every occasion.

For the purposes of this article, we’ve focused on ristoranti that offer more than just pizza (we’ll do that in a separate round-up).  Have you dined at any of our picks? Which are your favourites? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Italian Restaurants: Scala

In the atmospheric below-street-level space formerly occupied by ASH, chef Luciano Monosilio has undoubtedly stirred up the Italian scene in Cape Town, and taken it up a few notches. He arrived from Rome with the ultimate culinary calling card: one of the youngest Italian chefs to gain a Michelin star (at age 27), and as consultant chef imparts his skills and secret recipes to a resident team headed up by executive chef Justin Barker. The pastas are served as sharing plates, made in-house from three different types of dough (semolina, egg and white 00 flour), and topped with a variety of delectable seafood, chicken, meat and cheese sauces. It’s a beautiful marriage of traditional and cutting-edge cool. Luciano also brings the aperitivo culture to our shores, with cocktails, spritzes and cicchetti (snacks) served daily from 4pm until dinner. Little wonder Scala was recently awarded Two Forks by Gambero Rosso International.
Good to know Gluten-free pasta is available.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 10.30pm
Contact 021 424 7204,
Where to find 81 Church Street, Heritage Square, Cape Town CBD
Book through DinePlan


Italian Restaurants: LOCO

Benvenuto to the new Italian kid on the Kloof Street block. Chef Luca Toni hails from Bologna (via several years at Assaggi in Joburg) and brings that rich tradition of fresh antipasti, superb pastas, hearty meat dishes and decadent desserts to the space below Saigon, creating an unadorned family trattoria vibe. Good simple food takes centrestage, all the fresh pasta being made in-house. The sumptuous lasagne with asparagus and brie steals the show, although tagliatelle with fillet and mushrooms is a serious contender. A wood-fired pizza oven adds to the menu-decision dilemma, but make sure you leave space for dessert – both tiramisu and crème brûlée hit that irresistible sweet spot.
Good to know Loco’s cocktails are an extra attraction – a R45 cocktail happy hour lasts until 6.30pm every afternoon.
Opening times Tuesday – Thursday, 12pm – 10pm
Friday + Saturday, 12pm – 10.30pm
Sunday, 12pm – 9.30pm
Contact 021 424 7504, 076 376 0256 (Whatsapp),
Where to find it 70A Kloof Street, Gardens
Book Now

The Cousins Trattoria

Italian Restaurants: The Cousins Trattoria

Three Italian cousins – Simone, Luca and Andrea – decided that the one thing their adopted city was missing was a real Italian restaurant. So in 2012 they opened one. The Cousins Trattoria is a charming and cosy slice of Romagna in the East City. The pasta is made fresh each morning – the recipes come straight from nonna, so don’t ask for any changes! You won’t need to, though, because every plate is a hearty feast of flavours: lasagne made the traditional way of their hometown of Cesenatico, tagliatelle with an authentic bolognese sauce, potato gnocchi with gorgonzola. For a touch of theatre, order the Cousins pasta: tagliolini with cream, mushroom and thyme, tossed and served at your table from a giant Grana Padano cheese wheel. Save a little space for a vodka-infused sorbet or an excellent affogato, and end your meal off with a limoncello if you need some help digesting…
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 6pm – 10pm
Contact 083 273 9604,
Where to find it The Cousins, 3b Barrack Street, Cape Town CBD
Book through DinePlan

Nonna Lina

Italian Restaurants: Nonna Lina

Famous for its delicious thin-crust pizzas, this cosy ristorante pizzeria has been popular with locals and Labia cinema-goers since it opened in 2003. Named for owner Antonello Scamuzzi’s beloved nonna, he takes inspiration from her authentic Sardinian and Italian recipes. There’s a welcoming, informal family feel here, both indoors by the wood-fired pizza oven and outdoors in the courtyard and terrace. If you can resist the pizzas (it’s hard), you’ll discover an array of pastas, including homemade culurgiones (a traditional Sardinian stuffed pasta with mint potato and pecorino), antipasti, and mains such as calamari and pudda (chargrilled chicken with lemon), the flavours of Sardinia, as well as Italian staples such as tagliata di manzo (rump steak) and tiramisu or ricotta cheesecake for dessert.
Opening times Monday + Tuesday, 4.45pm – 10.30pm
Wednesday – Saturday, 12.15pm – 10.30pm
Sunday, 12.15pm – 10.15pm
Contact 021 424 4966
Where to find it 64 Orange Street, Gardens
Book Now


Italian Restaurants: Limoncello

Under the shade of ancient milkwood trees, with ocean and mountain views, Limoncello is the Noordhoek reinvention of Luca and Cecilia Castiglione’s original southern Italian ristorante in Gardens, which was sorely missed when it closed in 2012. When they re-opened here in 2019, they kept the spirit of the original eatery – its neighbourhood family feel and delicious food from Luca’s native Naples – adding a breezy Noordhoek vibe (a tree grows inside the light-filled dining room). Luca loves cooking seafood, so you might find fish caught that day by a local fisherman on the chalkboard special menu, and old favourites like melanzane alla Parmigiana, risotto with roast peppers and stracciatella cheese (cooked fresh and worth the wait). Then there’s an appealing selection of wood-fired thin-based pizzas with mozzarella from Puglia Cheese. Don’t leave without enjoying a shot of Luca’s homemade limoncello!
Opening times Tuesday – Thursday, 5pm – 10pm
Friday – Sunday, 12pm – 10pm
Contact 071 114 8947,
Where to find it Corner Beach Road & Pine Street, Noordhoek
Book through DinePlan

Carne on Kloof

Italian Restaurants: Carne on Kloof

Uncompromising on quality, with very definite ideas on the right way to do things, Giorgio Nava sees no reason to change a winning recipe. You can rely on finding your old favourites at his two Carne restaurants (Kloof Street and Keerom). Classic Milanese cooking with a focus on meat (carne is after all Italian for meat), Giorgio offers the finest cuts of pasture-raised beef, Dorper lamb, and game, and encourages you to try lesser-known cuts such as the spider, hanger and flat-iron steaks. Start with old-school classics such as lamb (or butternut) ravioli, gnocchi alla gorgonzola, or pan-fried sweetbreads in white wine, butter and sage. And save room after your meat dish for a fondente al cioccolato, the classic chocolate dessert with liquid chocolate centre that Giorgio made popular in Cape Town when he brought it here 20 years ago.
Good to know Carne on Kloof and Carne on Keerom share the same classic menu.
Opening times Monday – Thursday, 6pm – 10pm
Friday + Saturday, 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm
Contact 021 426 5566,
Where to find it 153 Kloof Street, Gardens
Book through DinePlan


With its wide terrace overlooking Main Road, and cosy interior bedecked with Italianate trompe l’oeil murals and old family photos, Posticino is something of a Sea Point institution. Childhood friends, Gioacchino (Jack) Gasparre and Enrico (Eric) de Siena, took over the existing restaurant in 1998, injecting new life into it with their mothers’ southern Italian recipes (their families are from Bari and Naples respectively). Abundant toppings on their wood-fired pizzas (crispy and thin-based Roman-style) are a star attraction, and generously-sauced pastas easily accommodate local palates (the flexible mix-and-match pasta menu boasts 24 different sauces). Look out for an old family favourite from their nonna’s Sunday table, penne al forno (baked pasta with napolitana sauce and meatballs) and the handmade ravioli delivered fresh daily.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12.30pm – 10pm
Contact 021 439 4014,
Where to find it 323 Main Road, Sea Point

Osteria Tarantino

Italian Restaurants: Osteria Tarantino
House & Garden

A staircase on Waterkant Street in De Waterkant leads you up to this delightful pocket-sized osteria, whose owner Enrico Tarantino (yes, he is distantly related to Quentin) is as charming and unpretentious as the delicious plates he dishes up. The daytime vibe is warm and rustic (think unsanded wooden tables, chalkboard menus and easy-listening Italian music), which gets a makeover when the sun goes down, with white tablecloths, dim lighting and a cosy fireplace for winter nights. Luscious burrata salad or Tuscan cigars (stracciatella mozzarella and rocket wrapped in Parma ham) are divine starters. Creamy gnocchi gorgonzola, pillowy and comforting; decadent ravioli with a truffle cream sauce; or the signature 4 Ps pasta (pappardelle, porcini, parmesan and pancetta) come sizzling in pans. And a short main menu includes veal meatballs and saltimbocca.
Good to know Booking is essential.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 1pm – 9pm
Contact 076 505 1771
Where to find it 125A Waterkant Street, De Waterkant

Mamma Roma

Italian Restaurants: Mamma Roma

Situated in Dean Street Arcade with ample underground parking, Mamma Roma specialises in authentic northern Italian cuisine and is usually packed with regulars who keep coming back for the consistently good food, homely atmosphere and efficient service – not to mention the generous portion sizes. Hands-on owners Romano and Christina Gorrini have been playing to packed houses in Newlands since 1998 (and before that in Stellenbosch), with a menu of old favourites such as risotto porcini, linguine pescatore (seafood), melanzane alla parmigiana – and a chalkboard menu of specials that features the seasonal hits. Look here for asparagus and artichokes in season, roast veal and fresh fish dishes.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 9pm
Contact 021 685 2051,
Where to find it Dean Street Arcade, Newlands
Book Now

Gusto Urban Italian

Italian Restaurants: Gusto Urban Italian

Casual urban chic is the vibe at this newish Italian eatery (that opened in February 2022). Hidden away in the latest development of Century City with a light-filled interior and serene, green views over canals and Ratanga Park, it’s a neighbourhood favourite in the making, with friendly and attentive service. Fresh Italian flavours come through in antipasti such as the roast melanzane with tomatoes and basil, gamberi alla Busara (prawns grilled in a tomato sauce) and spinaci saltati (spinach sauteed with garlic), as well as a classic array of pasta dishes. Plus delightfully crispy thin-based Neapolitan-style pizzas from the wood-fired oven.
Good to know Gusto serves the Bridgewater Hotel, and also has a breakfast menu and a café feel sitting outside at pavement tables on the mini piazza. Live music on Friday and Saturday evenings adds to the vibe, plus there’s an aperitivo social hour (two-for-one special on house wines and Gusto Lager) from 5pm – 7pm every weekday.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 6.30am – 9.30pm
Saturday, 7am – 9.30pm
Sunday, 7am – 2.30pm
Contact 021 202 9142,
Where to find it 4 Conference Lane, Bridgeways Precinct, Century City
Book through DinePlan

Riva Italian Fish Restaurant

Italian Restaurants: Riva Italian Fish Restaurant

If you love your seafood packed with authentic flavours, and served by warm, passionate hosts, then you must try Riva. Opened in July 2018 by Italian chefs and friends, Nico Rovarini and Federico Rocca, it’s a popular informal haunt in the buzzy De Waterkant neighbourhood. The short menu changes weekly, according to the catch available, and majors on fresh and excellent ingredients. Try the risotto mare (seafood risotto) or the beetroot risotto with prawns tartare, the tuna carpaccio, or the pasta scoglio (fresh paccheri with clams, mussels and prawns) if they’re on the menu. And look out for the fish of the day, which also stars in the bouillabaisse alongside crayfish, prawns, mussels and clams.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 6pm – 10pm
Contact 021 418 0657,
Where to find it 24/4 Napier Street, De Waterkant, Cape Town

Pizza Vesuvio

Named after the Vesuvio volcano in Italy, the Cozzolino family’s homely trattoria at the Tyger Waterfront combines Italian sophistication with rustic simplicity (a combo only the Italians have mastered), from the decor to the food. They’ve been making Neapolitan-style pizzas since long before they became a thing – Gerardo is from Napoli and takes pride in his 72-hour fermented dough. As well as the pizzas, pastas with an authentic ragu (bolognese sauce), penne al salmone (salmon and cream sauce), or homemade pappardelle and gnocchi take centre stage with a variety of classic and creative sauces. Finish with crispy fried cannoli or a tiramisu.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 12pm – 10pm
Contact 021 914 1414
Where to find it Waterfront and Fountain Roads, Bellville Park, Bellville

A Tavola

Italian Restaurants: A tavola

A Southern Suburbs Italian institution, ever since it opened in 2008, A Tavola continues to deliver traditional Italian flavour to packed houses. A casual ambience looking through glass walls onto Library Square in Claremont is enlivened by hearty aromas wafting into the dining area from the open-plan kitchen. Fresh, seasonal produce is the order of the day – in true Italian style, owner David Haupt is committed to using organic herbs and vegetables, pasture-reared beef, sustainable fish and handmade pasta. Old favourites include tagliolini ai funghi e tartufo (fresh pasta with mushrooms and truffle), linguine gamberoni (pasta with queen prawns), and tagliata di manzo (sliced rib-eye with roast Roma tomatoes and broccoli). Explore the winelist, which goes beyond local to include Italian classics such as Chianti, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, and Amarone della Valpolicella.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 12pm – 3pm; 5.30pm – 10pm
Saturday, 6pm – 10pm
Contact 021 671 1763,
Where to find it Library Square (opposite Kingsburg Hospital), Wilderness Road, Claremont

Magica Roma

This traditional ristorante Italiano in the heart of Pinelands has maintained a fine reputation for serving delicious, authentic Italian food in congenial surroundings. Although the 1970s decor appears dated, it is this comfortable and familiar environment that is so charming. The efficient waiters are warm and friendly and, if you’re a regular, chef-owner Ezio De Biaggi will come over and explain the specialities of the day. He and co-owner Franco Zezia have put together an extensive menu of authentic Italian classics, and will even tailor-make a dish for discerning palates. Start with a selection of antipasti or the penne arrabiata, followed by the zuppa di pesce (seafood soup) or tagliata Fiorentina (sliced grilled fillet dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a herb sauce), and end with the decadent tiramisu – if you have room. The excellent winelist includes local and Italian wines.
Good to know Booking is essential, especially if you want to sit at the far end of the restaurant away from the buzz.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 12pm – 2pm, 6pm – 9pm
Saturday, 6pm – 9pm
Contact 021 531 1489
Where to find it Central Building, 8 Central Square, Pinelands

Il Leone Mastrantonio

Italian Restaurants: Il Leone Mastrantonio

This convivial Green Point ristorante serves traditional and modern Italian dishes with robust flavours, and is always packed with loyal locals and tourists from the nearby hotels. A stalwart of the Cape Town Italian scene since it opened in the 1990s, the historic Green Point building ties in with the upmarket trattoria vibe, together with art on the walls. It’s great for people-watching – but book well in advance to get a table downstairs, which is where you want to be. Favourites from chef Daniel Toledo’s menu include carpaccio di manzo (finely sliced raw beef fillet with Parmesan shavings, mushrooms, celery and rocket); the legendary penne gamberetti (baby prawns in olive oil, fresh tomato, cream, garlic and chilli); tagliata alla Mastrantonio (medallions of grilled sirloin topped with fresh rocket).
Good to know It has private dining rooms available for functions.
Opening times Tuesday – Sunday, 12pm – 3.30pm, 6pm – 10pm
Contact 021 421 0071
Where to find it 22 Coburn Street, (corner Prestwich Street), Green Point

Old Town Italy (High Constantia)

Italian Restaurants: Old Town Italy

When the moon hits the sky, like a big pizza pie, you know you’ve arrived at OTI! Neapolitan songs blare from the raised terrace of this old-school trattoria, hinting at what you can expect: a homely vibe, nonna-style pasta dishes, creative pizza toppings on crisp wood-fired pizzas, and friendly service. There’s a wide outdoor seating area with green High Constantia views and a fire indoors for winter. And a rather enticing deli section, too, where you can stock up on sourdough breads, formaggio and Parma ham to take home.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 8am – 10pm
Contact 021 569 3784,
Where to find it Shop 12 High Constantia Centre, Groot Constantia Road, Constantia
Book through DinePlan

Ariel Modern Italian

Italian Restaurants: Ariel Modern Italian

Buzzing beneath The Amalfi Hotel you’ll find Ariel Modern Italian. An enticing, rosy-hued space where Naples meets New York, it’s the perfect place to wind down the day – whether it’s negronis with a bite on the side, or a fabulous meal with someone special. Combining the energy of these cities with authentic ingredients on the plate, the menu is a contemporary interpretation of the classics – antipasti of flatbreads with burrata or ricotta, marinated anchovies or sardines, ravioli arrabbiata, truffle-flecked mushroom tagliatelle, a wagyu burger or chicken piccata, or a short selection of Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzas. Finish off with desserts such as a luscious Cremino, tiramisu or a classic NY-baked cheesecake. The neon-lit wall light spelling out “Baci Bella” (“beautiful kisses”) says it all…
Good to know The Amalfi Hotel is also home to Jarryds, a popular brunch spot and daytime eatery, as well as spunky Johnny Shawarma (the name says it all).
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 10pm
Contact 021 023 3643,
Where to find it 90 Regent Road, Sea Point
Book through DinePlan

Villa 47

Italian Restaurants: Villa 47

Change is afoot at what has been a stalwart on the Italian dining scene in Cape Town for close on a decade. At street level is Locanda, the lifelong realisation of current owners Luciano Previtera and Michele Mirotto, where diners can expect everything from antipasto platters (showcasing the best imported Italian hams, salamis and cheeses) and classic pastas, to saltimbocca, fritto misto, or sirloin steak with truffle sauce.
Martini Terrazza Lounge is a sophisticated fusion-cocktail lounge on the first floor, where the Italian sensibilities of aperitivo entertaining are the order of the day.
Good to know Breakfast is served until 11.30am.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 7am –10pm
Saturday, 8.30am – 10pm
Contact 021 418 2740,
Where to find it 47 Bree Street, Cape Town CBD
Book through DinePlan

Woodlands Eatery

Italian Restaurants: Woodlands Eatery

This neighbourhood gem was taken over by Matteo Santini and Maurizio Carlo in June 2017, who brought their Italian heritage to Cape Town with recipes learnt and passed down from their nonnas. One move of location on, they’ve kept the homely, intimate ambience and continue to be the life and soul of this cosy, unpretentious eatery. Their slow-cooked lamb dishes are legendary (try the fettuccine al ragu di agnello, or the lamb-and-crème-fraîche pizza). Generous portions, homemade pasta, and tasty vegetarian options (such as the mushroom-and-artichoke ravioli with mascarpone and walnut sauce) make this a regular neighbourhood favourite for all the famiglia.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 10pm
Contact 063 710 4742,
Where to find it 8 Breda Street, Oranjezicht
Book through DinePlan

Discover all of the Cape’s hidden gems – subscribe to our weekly newsletter.


The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 15 March 2023

Loading comments...