Presented by The Australian Financial Review, the 2018 Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants Awards list was released on Monday and includes 10 Italian restaurants.
The prestigious awards are uniquely peer-voted from a list of 500 restaurants, rigorously compiled by a team of critics and editors.
It’s the ultimate chefs’ guide to the country’s best dining experiences.
The highest-ranking Italian restaurant was LuMi Bar & Dining, which jumped nine spots from 2017 to come in at no.13 on this year’s list.
Located in Pyrmont, NSW, the restaurant serves modern Italian food with a Japanese twist.
“In spite of his high-energy, umami-fuelled tasting menu, Federico Zanellato is very much an Italian - albeit one in love with Japanese flavours and techniques,” the AFR wrote.
“His glittering glass-walled jewel box of a restaurant is home to parmesan chawanmushi, fine-skinned agnolotti and battleship sushi that (spoiler alert) combines arborio rice, stracciatella and sea urchin.”
Photo: LuMi Bar & Dining
Despite dropping twelve spots to no.19 this year, Melbourne restaurant Tipo 00, which specialises in mouth-watering pasta, is still a favourite among the nation’s top foodies.
“Even if this tiny, elbow-to-elbow dining room was triple the size, it would still be packed to the rafters every lunch and dinnertime,” the AFR claimed.
“Such is the appeal of Tipo’s uniquely Melbourne/Italian hospitality, not to mention Andreas Papadakis’ gnocchi with braised duck and porcini mushroom, and squid ink tagliolini with squid and bottarga.”
Photo: Tipo 00
Potts Point institution Fratelli Paradiso jumped 10 spots this year to no.22, cementing itself as the go-to for great Italian fare in NSW.
“A genuine desire to share all things Italian has won Fratelli Paradiso a hard-core legion of regulars ever since Marco Ambrosino and brothers Giovanni and Enrico Paradiso first scrawled ‘calamari San Andrea’ on the blackboard wall, back in 2001,” the AFR wrote.
“A refurb in 2017 has raised comfort levels, and the natural wine list is an on-going adventure all of its own.”
Photo: Fratelli Paradiso
Its little brother, intimate two-story bistro 10 William St, also moved its way up the list, jumping 15 spots to no.28.
“Like its big brother, Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Point, this natural, always-busy, industry-magnet of a tiny wine bar and restaurant takes no bookings,” the AFR wrote.
“That must be why everyone in there always looks so smug as they tuck into Enrico Tomerelli’s ‘twisted classics’ – maybe scampi and fennel ravioli with prawn head butter, and pipi and nettle spaghetti.”
Photo: 10 William Street
Lulu La Delizia, a small eatery and wine bar in Subiaco, impressed with its delights of Friuli and the Venetian spice route, ranking no.63.
“At this small but welcoming Subiaco pasteria, Joel Valvasori-Pereza makes pasta the only way he knows how – by hand, like his nonna – but with a twist,” the AFR said.
“So there’s smoked spaghetti with mushrooms, garlic and sage, and pig’s blood tagliolini with prawns, white vermouth and fennel seed. And Negronis, and Nonna’s meatballs, for days.”
Photo: Lulu La Delizia
Adelaide restaurant Osteria Oggi’s method of serving seasonal produce in a way that is designed to share proved to be a winning one, as the eatery made its way onto the list for the first time, sitting at no.68.
“With its Italian piazza feel, private booths and pasta made daily, Oggi has upped Adelaide’s Italian game with a little that’s familiar and a lot that’s new,” the AFR said.
“Exec chef Andrew Davies and head chef Mimi Rivers keep the dolce vita flowing with fregola with octopus and vongole, a massive angus Bistecca alla Fiorentina and a racy little tiramisu affogato.”
Photo: Osteria Oggi
Meanwhile, long-standing St Kilda venue Cafe Di Stasio remained a fixture on the prestigious list, albeit dropping 25 places to no.72.
“Dear Cafe Di Stasio, we love you. For forty years, you have been true to yourself, embodying the true spirit of 'Italianality' with your every faithful regular, hideaway corner, white-jacketed waiter, killer Negroni and immaculately conceived pasta,” the AFR wrote.
“Your next-door bar is dangerously good, and soon, you will open Di Stasio Citta in Spring Street. Salute.”
Photo: Cafe Di Stasio
From old to new, Hobart restaurant Fico made its first appearance on the list this year, coming in at no.76.
The venue is the brainchild of Federica Andrisani and Oskar Rossi, who came together in northern Italy four years ago.
“Great wine, music, and a focus on game, seafood and hand-made pasta – and bee pollen gelato with white balsamic meringue and hibiscus – make it one to watch,” the AFR affirmed.
Waterside eatery Ormeggio at The Spit made it onto the list again this year, dropping 41 spots to no.80.
“Perched on the water overlooking Middle Harbour, Alessandro and Anna Pavoni’s highly polished restaurant puts an elegant spin on Italian dining, with lively 4- and 6-course menus that include vegetarian and, in season, truffle,” the AFR wrote.
“Star chef Victor Moya is clearly the influence behind an 11-course, 3-hour gastronomic menu that promises a ‘trip via Spain’.”
Photo: Ormeggio at The Spit
The final Italian restaurant to be named in this year’s top 100 is a well-known one: Sardinian chef Giovanni Pilu’s Pilu at Freshwater in NSW, which ranked no.86, down 30 spots from last year.
“Jason Saxby first fell in love with Sardinian food - and ocean views - when he was a young chef at Giovanni Pilu’s Freshwater restaurant in 2009,” the AFR recalled.
“Now the prodigal son returns as head chef, devising dramatic compositions of Cone Bay barramundi with ham consommé, saffron spaghettone with braised duck and Pilu’s signature roast suckling pig.”
Photo: Pilu at Freshwater
Like those before it, this year’s list of Australia’s top 100 restaurants was heavily influenced by Italian cuisine, proving our nation just can’t get enough of la dolce vita.