Bursting with culture and known for its vast array of cuisine, there are so many great restaurants in Manchester to sink your teeth into. But sometimes nothing else cuts it quite like some tasty Italian food. If you ask most people in the UK what their favourite foods are, chances are pizza and pasta will feature somewhere around the top spot. They’re the perfect comfort dishes that can’t help but satisfy your cravings and remind you of summers abroad.
For a relatively small country, Italy’s cuisine has been exported far and wide to make it some of the world’s favourite fare, including Manchester, a region that has a significant connection with Italy. They don’t call Ancoats ‘Little Italy’ for nothing. Here, you’ll find people passionate about making the best pasta in the country while others are on a mission to produce the perfect pizza. The nice thing, in fact, about many of the best Italian restaurants in Manchester is that they often specialise in just one thing which means that exemplary crust or the ultimate silky sauce that has taken years to get just right.
Thanks to the thousands of Italians who migrated in the 19th century and have been sharing their food with Mancunians for generations, it’s incredibly easy to get food bursting with authentic flavours. The problem is, there are so many options that it can be hard to know which to choose. With a number of Italian chains dominating the space, it can be easy to overlook those traditional and independent joints that are serving food the way it’s done in Italy. But you can still enjoy fresh Neapolitan pizza and pasta all the way to Sicilian cannolis and creamy gelato - if you know where to look!
From rustic pizza spots through to fine dining pasta specialists, the best Italian restaurants in Manchester are far-reaching and offer something for every occasion. Explore our favourites below.
Sud Pasta, Ancoats
What: Sud Pasta, previously known as Sugo Pasta Kitchen, is doing for Manchester what Padella did for London, taking pasta from a quick dinner fix to an in-demand dish worth queuing for. Here the talented team make pasta fresh each day and cook in front of guests via the open kitchen. As the name suggests, these dishes are inspired by the Italian south and their aim is to keep things simple but well done with a menu that features only 12 antipasti and pasta dishes on rotation. Interiors are trendy and there’s a liveliness in the air thanks to the mixed crowd of dates and mates.
Where: 46 Blossom Street, M4 6BF
Book now: Sud Pasta
Salvi's Mozzarella Bar, Corn Exchange
What: A family run eatery sharing the produce of Campania with the locals of Manchester. Starting out as a deli, Salvi's is now a treasure trove of Italian favourites featuring three sites across the region. With an alfresco terrace, this is a great spot for outdoor dining during those warmer seasons, while the cosy dining room comes into its own in the evening when gentle lighting creates a relaxing ambiance. Kick things off with antipasti options (calamari, bruschetta and arancini are all favourites here) before moving onto classic pizza, pasta and seafood mains.
Where: The Corn Exchange, M4 3TR
Book now: Salvi's Mozzarella Bar
What: As with many of the best Italian restaurants in Manchester, Ciaooo Pizzeria is found in Ancoats, known as the Italian Quarter of Manchester. There’s a small selection of Italian sharers and starters but after that it’s just pizza, pizza, pizza. Vegan and gluten-free options are available here, so it makes a great spot when dining in a mixed group. Don’t miss trying one of the brand’s signature pizzas con burrata for that cheesy goodness with additional topping options including pancetta, wild boar salami and nduja sausage. With new specials every week, there'll always be something new to try on your next visit.
Where: 62-64 Swan Street, M4 5JU
Book now: Ciaooo
San Carlo, Deansgate
What: Sicily-born Carlo Distefano is at the helm of the San Carlo group, a national chain of Italian restaurants that are famed for their ability to draw a glitzy clientele. While there are a handful of Manchester outposts, we think the original is still the best. Sleek interiors make for ideal social media fodder, while the menu is just as inspiring. Antipasti sharing platters come as perfect sharing starters, a theme which can be carried throughout mains with huge plates of pasta made for a minimum of two guests to enjoy together. Our favourite is the Spaghetti Frutti di Mare which is a classic shellfish pasta dish with clams, mussels, prawns, garlic and tomato.
Where: 42 King Street West, M3 2WY
Book now: San Carlo
Vero Moderno, Salford
What: Just outside the city centre, Vero Moderno is a great choice for anyone looking for an Italian restaurant near Salford. Combining a warm atmosphere with reassuringly familiar family food, Vero Moderno has made a name for itself thanks to its friendly team and infallible menus. While this isn’t fine dining, its low-key vibe ensures it never feels stuffy, and is ideal for taking the kids to or grabbing a table at with a big group of friends if you’re looking for a buzzy night out. With Italian brunches, Sunday roasts and special lunchtime offers, there are menu options for every day of the week too.
Where: Chapel Street, M3 5JF
Book now: Vero Moderno
What: Famous Clarence Street is the perfect location for this elegant restaurant, complete with open kitchen, cocktail bar and an oyster and caviar bar for more of a fine dining experience than other options on this list. Light and bright interiors and a far-reaching menu keep Piccolino packed most nights of the week. The cold counter is a popular place to start, showcasing some of Italy’s finest cured cuts and cheeses, while the sharing pizza-style breads are a classic choice with the option of rosemary and sea salt; tomato and basil; or mozzarella and smoked cheese. Favourites include tagliolini al tartufo, fresh pasta served with fresh truffle and parmesan sauce, and bistecca alla Fiorentina - an aged t-bone steak served with crisp golden fries.
Where: 8 Clarence Street, M2 4DW
Book now: Piccolino
What: Puffed up dough and charred crusts are the calling cards of Rudy’s - one of Manchester’s best restaurants for pizzas. Here the Neapolitan style is king, with a carefully curated run of toppings that allow both the base and the accompaniments to shine. Top shouts include a prosciutto and rocket option as well as the Carni, a meaty pizza topped with wild boar salami, basil and extra virgin olive oil. Pizzas are complimented by a small run of snacky bits like salads and bowls of burrata. Meanwhile, desserts change regularly but you can usually expect classics like tiramisu or gelato.
Where: 9 Cotton Street, M4 5BF
Book now: Rudy’s Ancoats
Don Giovanni, Oxford Street
What: For special occasions Don Giovanni in Manchester offers a more upmarket option with a menu replete with luxurious dishes. You’ll find a menu packed with fresh British seafood, including fresh mussels and clams served in a creamy sauce served with toasted bread, as well as lobster thermidor cooking with onion, parsley, cream and English mustard. Steaks are cooked over a josper grill if you fancy a decent red meat hit with that signature smoky flavour, while there is a whole selection of pizzas too, to ensure everyone’s catered.
Where: 1 Peter House, M1 5AN
Book now: Don Giovanni
Giorgio, Oxford Street
What: Located at the crossroad of Oxford Street and Portland Street, Giorgio Restorante Italiano is a bright and vibrant option complete with those classic Italian touches. A Neapolitan inspired menu full of classic dishes including tagliatelle marinara for the seafood fanatics as well as cannelloni di pollo, pancake field with chicken, spinach and ricotta. There's also got a pizza tropicale with ham and pineapple - if you’re wanting to spark a debate over dinner about this untraditional addition to the menu! Heavenly Italian desserts include panna cotta and affogato, a delightful way to end your meal.
Where: 131 Portland Street, M1 4PY
Book now: Giorgio
What: One of 14 locations across the UK, sit back and relax at Gusto with some elegant Italian dining and tuck into fresh food made from scratch. An extensive pizza and pasta menu are available but they’ve not limited themself to just the classics with options for burgers and chicken dishes as well. Gusto favourites include pulled pork gnocchi, crab fettuccine and a white base, truffle pizza complete with portobello mushrooms. With a lively atmosphere, relaxed interiors and an excellent cocktail list you’re bound to have a great evening.
Where: 4 Lloyd Street, M2 5AB
Book now: Gusto
Riva Blu, Corn Exchange
What: An Italian food lover's paradise, Riva Blu sits in the heart of the Corn Exchange, welcoming you to the south of Italy for an evening of classic and stylish dining. With plush, teal seating inside, as well as an alfresco terrace outside, there are dining options for all year round. Riva Blue specialises in rustic, no-frills dishes such as bruschetta with king prawns, beef carpaccio, and authentic Neapolitan pizzas with thick crusts. The dessert menu offers up a number of sweet treats including a lemon and berry panna cotta, and a chocolate and hazelnut cheesecake.
Where: 11 Corn Exchange, M4 3TR
Book now: Riva Blu
Noi Quattro, Northern Quarter
What: Forget family run restaurants, Noi Quattro is an Italian restaurant in the Northern Quarter run by a group of four friends. This is a more modern take on the classic dining experience, complete with an open plan kitchen that’ll even allow you to watch on as the chefs as they prepare your dishes. With fun additions to the menu that you won’t see elsewhere on this list, Noi Quattro serves ‘cuoppos’ - a paper cone stuffed full of delicacies such as potato croquettes, courgette flowers flavoured dough balls. Tuck into these, alongside an extensive pizza menu and a long list of regional wines.
Where: 120 High Street, M4 1HQ
Book now: Noi Quattro
Sicilian NQ, Northern Quarter
What: Coupled with an on-site patisserie, enjoy traditional Sicilian food & drink as well as cocktails and gelato at Sicilian NQ, a neighbourhood bistro in the heart of the Northern Quarter. With exposed brickwork and utilitarian wooden tables there's a real rustic vibe that brings an authentic slice of Italy to its little corner of Manchester. Not to be missed is the famous arancini, a real favourite amongst locals, as well as a wide variety of cannolis, also available in a cannolicchio version as well (for a bite size after dinner treat). There's also an option to add bottomless prosecco, aperol spritz or limoncello to your plate.
Where: 14 Turner Street, M4 1DZ
Book now: Sicilian NQ
Vincenzo Trattoria, Deansgate
What: Cosy and low-lit, the arched, brick walled dining room at Vincenzo Trattoria makes for the ideal date night venue or gathering spot for friends. Here you’ll find pizzas, pastas, mains and sides on the a la carte menu, an offering which is pleasingly varied. Start perhaps with sauteed king prawns in a lemon, garlic, chilli, white wine, and cream sauce, before moving on to something like a classic veal Milanese. This is a northern city after all, so spud lovers need not despair – chips and sauteed potatoes are both optional sides, and there’s a tasty selection of desserts on offer each day too.
Where: 34 St. Ann Street, M2 7LE
Book now: Vincenzo Trattoria
For more Manchester dining inspiration, take a look at our roundup of the best restaurants in Manchester, which includes everything from relaxed modern British bistros to curry houses and cafes.