A Guide to the Best Italian Restaurants in Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington in New Zealand is known for its diverse cuisine, particularly Italian food
Wellington in New Zealand is known for its diverse cuisine, particularly Italian food | jiGGoTravel / Alamy Stock Photo
Italian restaurants, while often having pasta, pizza and tiramisu in common, have evolved into diverse dining experiences from late-night pizza joints to contemporary shared dining eateries to fine-dining establishments. Here’s a list of the best Italian restaurants to visit in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington.

Aperitivo hour at Ombra Restaurant

Restaurant, Bar, Snacks, Italian, $$$

Warm up before dinner with a quick drink and small plate at Ombra Restaurant on Cuba Street in Te Aro. Inspired by the bacari (typical bar and restaurant of Venice), the interior of this stylish restaurant combines rustic and industrial design and serves budget-friendly Italian drinks such as Prosecco, Aperol Spritz, and Peroni with a complimentary bite between 3pm and 6pm. All plates are designed to share, so if you are planning to make a meal of it, order three to four dishes for two people. Start with a classic Venetian starter of baccalà mantecato crostino (whipped salted cod on toasted bread) and a crispy, creamy mushroom and mozzarella arancino (risotto ball) topped with truffle honey.

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Pasta on the go at 1154 Pastaria

Restaurant, Italian
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For a quick Italian bite, head down to 1154 Pastaria, on the corner of Cuba and Ghuznee Streets in Te Aro. This modern eatery specialises in homemade pasta made with free-range eggs and New Zealand semolina flour. The restaurant features shared dining spaces only. Order at the counter and the meal will be served in 10 to 15 minutes. It also makes fennel pork sausage, so try the gnocchetti sardi alla salsicca (short ridged pasta with Italian sausage, red peppers, parsley, parmesan and tomato sauce) for something a bit spicy. 1154 Pastaria serves organic wines; try the white wine spritzer with thyme, lemon and soda. If you are on a budget, it also has an Awesome Sauce deal available between 4pm and 6pm from Monday to Friday.

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Fine dining at Fratelli

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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For a special occasion, splurge on a set menu at Fratelli restaurant, situated on Blair Street. This restaurant features all the traditions of a fine-dining Italian experience with black and white family photos on the wall and a large map of Italy next to the long bar. The homemade tagliatelle with lamb, ricotta and parmesan meatballs in a Napoli sauce is a real indulgence. Enjoy slowly because it’s expensive but worth every bite.

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Humble Italian food at Cicio Cacio

Restaurant, Italian, $$$

Italian food is known for its simple dishes and humble ingredients; this can be experienced at Cicio Cacio on Riddiford Street in Newtown. Like a typical Osteria (a simple Italian restaurant serving wine and only a few dishes), Cicio Cacio serves only Italian wines. The menu (which is in Italian) changes regularly with dishes prepared according to what’s in season. In summertime expect to find dishes inspired by the south of Italy, like squid ink tagliolini with salmon.

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Late-night pizza at Tommy Millions

Pizzeria, North American, Italian, European, Fast Food
Tommy Millions Pizza
© chrisjtse/Flickr

A delicious end to a night out in Wellington’s party suburb of Te Aro can be found at Tommy Millions on the corner of Taranaki Street and Courtenay Place. This New-York-style pizza kiosk is great for takeaway slices or large pizzas that can be shared between two or three people. It specialises in using quality New Zealand ingredients on its pizzas. Try the Fun Guy, with mushroom, spinach and a bit of blue cheese with the usual mozzarella and pizza sauce on a crust that’s light, crispy and chewy all at the same time.

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These recommendations were updated on April 7, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.