The Best Restaurants on the Island of Lampedusa, Italy

Rabbit Beach, with its turquoise water and white sands, is one of Lampedusa's finest
Rabbit Beach, with its turquoise water and white sands, is one of Lampedusa's finest | © Giacomo Scandroglio / Alamy

Risotto simmered in champagne at Michelin-tipped restaurants and beach clubs serving garlicky spaghetti rank among the top places to eat on the moreish Mediterranean isle of Lampedusa.

Italy’s southernmost territory is almost equidistant between Sicily and North Africa, beckoning Italians and in-the-know Europeans to its arid shores for unparalleled beaches and diving. With a hub of exotic marine life, from loggerhead turtles to bottlenose dolphins and neon-bright parrotfish, this diver’s haven is just as popular with landlubbers for its wilderness-backed coves and uncannily clear waters. Stop in at one of these glorious restaurants for a taste of the Mediterranean.

Cavalluccio Marino

Hotel Restaurant, Italian
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Cavalluccio Marino_0297030b
Courtesy of Cavalluccio Marino / Expedia

This swanky hotel restaurant not far from the main port has made it into the Michelin guide. Prim white-clothed tables line an elegant terrace edged by pines and palms, where grouper tartare topped with edible flowers is served in a shell-like ceramic dish and champagne-simmered prawn risotto comes topped with jewels of salmon roe. Both the five- and seven-course tasting menus feel well priced for the quality of fare. Book well ahead to score a sought-after table.

Cala Croce Club

Restaurant, Italian
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View of Cala Croce beach in Lampedusa, Sicily. Italy
© Giuseppe Anello / Alamy

On a sunny plateau above the small southern beach of Cala Croce, this breezy terrace under a thatched canopy has a lighthearted, beach-club feel. Platters of garlicky spaghetti come topped with prawns the size of a fist, antipasti platters overflow with charred aubergine and marinated anchovies and slivers of tuna crudo are fragrantly fresh. Come well before lunchtime to skim across the blonde sands and swim in lapis-blue shallows, then cool off with a cold beer in the shade.

I Gemelli

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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There’s a touch of North African opulence to this sophisticated local institution, its ceiling lit by a web of connected filament bulbs and coloured-glass lanterns, with rich, gilded fabrics mounted on the walls. Its menu is hearty, traditional and centred around fish: creamy grouper crepes, octopus shakshuka with sweet red peppers and tuna wrapped, Tunisian-style, in a brik pastry. An older, well-heeled crowd pours in after dark for fine wines and civilised conversation.

Il Balenottero

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Striking presentation is top of mind at this temple to seafood, set in a pretty, tiled residential building with a slim balcony terrace, in the main port. Scarlet hunks of tuna tartare are topped with seaweed crackers spun like fishing nets, sea urchins swim in their spiky shells atop twirling tornadoes of pasta and seared tuna is encrusted with vivid crushed pistachio, then sprinkled with edible flowers. A stylish crowd of young couples and groups from the mainland makes a beeline here for photogenic dinners, topped off with premium champagne.

Gastronomia Mancino

Restaurant, Italian
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A low-key cafeteria with pavement tables scattered over a central square, this is the place for home cooking surrounded by chattering locals. The must-tries are the arancini (fried rice balls), but expect to find crisp calamari, vinegar-doused octopus salad and chargrilled aubergines, too, as well as plenty of sugary baked treats. Close to bartering street vendors and facing a leafy square, it’s a no-frills lunch spot with tonnes of local atmosphere and charm.

Trattoria Terranova

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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In the inland province of Terranova, this family-run joint excels at fresh grilled fish and parmesan-showered pastas served on rustic, hand-painted platters. You start by filling up on a buffet of island specialities served aperitivo-style – couscous, anchovies, octopus salad – then move on to the mains, which host Gianni guides you through with great charm. It’s high quality, but with more generous home-style portions than the fine-dining institutions on the island.

Controvento

Restaurant, Italian
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This east-coast restaurant has a romantic terrace cut into the rocks, topped with sails and scattered with nautical blue-and-white painted chairs. Couples graze by candlelight on juicy grilled squid, slivers of fresh fish crudo and peppery seared tuna served on elegant slates or glossy glazed ceramics. At night, the stars in this low-lit area appear piercingly bright. Then again, by day, the seas off this strip of coast glow a surreal shade of aquamarine, so you may be tempted to come for a lunch as well as a dinner.

Le Mille e Una Notte

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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On the eastern side of the island’s main port, this spot fuses the whisper of Arabic-speaking North Africa with the Mediterranean in a cave-like space, with its buffed checkerboard flooring, mosaic-tiled arches and silky golden upholstery. This is traditional rather than modern fine dining, but it’s loved by a whole new generation for its reverent, attentive service. You’ll tuck into pasta topped with crispy artichokes and seafood soup amid beautiful gilded design features and antiques.

Looking for more? With an enormous choice of things to do in Lampedusa – including a visit to its most beautiful beaches – make sure you stop off at one of the best bars for a greater taste of the island. And with plenty of choices for a place to stay, book into one of the best hotels in Lampedusa with Culture Trip. If you’re still looking for more inspiration, we’ve compiled the top reasons why you should visit this Italian isle.

These recommendations were updated on July 28, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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