Welcome to Lygon Street, the beating heart of Carlton, Melbourne's vibrant culinary scene. This vibrant thoroughfare, affectionately known as Melbourne's "Little Italy," is steeped in a captivating heritage that transports you back in time. As you wander through its lively streets, a sense of enchantment fills the air, beckoning you to delve into the story of this iconic destination.
With its rich history, diverse cuisines, and charming ambience, this famous street has evolved into a gastronomic paradise that beckons food enthusiasts from all over the world. Join us as we take you on a delectable journey through the best restaurants that call Lygon Street home.
Exploring the History of Lygon Street
Originally settled by Italian immigrants in the mid-20th century, Lygon Street became a hub of cultural exchange, bringing together a melting pot of traditions, flavours, and experiences. These pioneers, driven by their passion for good food, a love of their heritage, and a desire for community, transformed this once modest street into a true gastronomic haven that still thrives to this day.
Strolling along Lygon Street, it's easy to imagine the vibrant energy that permeated the area as Italian families set up trattorias, espresso bars, and gelaterias, infusing the air with mouth watering aromas and spirited conversations. The spirit of the Italian immigrant community is alive and well, as their influence can be seen and tasted in every corner of this gastronomic paradise.
Today, Lygon Street's Italian heritage continues to shine through in its charming sidewalk cafes, authentic pizza joints, and tantalising pasta houses. Step into the beloved haunts like Pellegrini's and you'll be transported back to a time when the clinking of espresso cups and boisterous laughter filled the air. Delight in a traditional coffee and soak in the ambience of a bygone era, where the love for food and community thrived.
Beyond the Italian Delights
It’s not only Italian cuisine that takes centre stage on Lygon Street. As the neighbourhood evolved, so did its culinary landscape, embracing new cultures and flavours. Alongside the Italian eateries, you'll find an array of global cuisines, from fragrant Thai dishes to succulent Middle Eastern delicacies to fresh Mediterranean plates.
This fusion of cultures adds yet another layer of charm to Lygon Street, making it a true embodiment of Melbourne's diverse and vibrant food scene. Each bite tells a story, a delicious chapter in the ever-evolving tale of Lygon Street.
Top Italian Restaurants on Lygon Street
Despite being home to a plethora of different cuisines and cultural gems, when it comes to Italian food in Melbourne, Lygon Street is second to none. The aromas of freshly baked pizza and simmering pasta sauces fill the air, luring you into a world of culinary delight. If you’re looking for a primo Italian restaurant on Lygon Street, try one of these delicious venues:
Da Guido La Pasta
130 Lygon Street
Situated at the outset of Lygon Street, Da Guido La Pasta offers a diverse range of fresh pasta and authentic Italian dishes. This culinary endeavour is inspired by the inaugural Da Guido restaurant, which originated in Jesolo, Venezia, Italy.
The core belief at Da Guido La Pasta is that prioritising quality over quantity is paramount, a principle that is evident in the meticulous attention devoted to each dish. Their menu remains in a constant state of evolution, showcasing seasonal ingredients and traditional recipes to ensure a consistently superior Italian dining experience for patrons.
From the authentic Bruschetta and the Piatto di Salumi Italiani starters, to the Agnolotti al Nero di Seppia pasta dish, this must-try Italian restaurant is a Lygon Street staple. They also serve a selection of delicious vegetarian options, like the Formaggio, the Spaghetti alla Contadina, and the Fagottini con Tartufo e Spinaci.
166 Lygon Street
Nestled opposite the renowned Argyle Square, in the heart of Carlton Melbourne’s beloved Little Italy, Il Gambero has become an iconic presence in one of Melbourne's most renowned gastronomic districts.
For five decades, Il Gambero has been dedicated to offering delectable Italian cuisine along Lygon Street, accompanied by the warm, personalised service that only a family-operated establishment can provide. Throughout their history, their fundamental principle has been to ensure that patrons, along with their families and friends, enjoy a top-tier dining experience without incurring excessive costs.
Il Gambero takes pride in sourcing the finest Italian and locally-sourced ingredients to craft their distinctive dishes. Some of our favourites include Dimattina pasta, Gambero’s famous garlic prawns, and of course, the classic Margherita pizza.
Lygon Street’s Family-Friendly Eateries
Exploring Lygon Street with your family? Fear not, for this culinary haven has something for everyone, even the little ones. Put these beloved Italian institutions on your next family travel list to indulge in delicious, affordable fare for decades. Their generous portions of pasta, wood-fired pizzas, and gelato are sure to satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.
DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar
295 Drummond Street, Carlton
Always abuzz with patrons, DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar radiates a delightful Italian ambience that's perfect for the whole family. Located just off Lygon Street, this establishment embodies Italian authenticity, boasting distinctive features such as a vibrant fire-engine-red, pedestal-mounted meat slicer and a wood-fired oven that meticulously crafts traditional Italian-style pizzas.
Families are particularly drawn to DOC, as the thin and crispy pizzas served here cater to all ages, celebrating dozens of fresh topping choices that are sure to please every palate (even the picky ones). In addition to its sumptuous menu, DOC offers a dedicated mozzarella bar, inviting guests of all generations to enjoy a tasting experience that includes a trio of distinct mozzarella varieties. It's a family-friendly destination where everyone can relish the true flavours of Italy.
If you and the family are more in the mood for an easy takeaway, DOC specialises in fresh, hot, and fast take-out meals available to order online. Because sometimes, it’s just better to kick back in your riverview hotel room and let the kids lounge while indulging in some of Melbourne’s finest pizza.
299 Lygon Street
No family outing is complete without a (slightly extravagant) dessert escapade. Be sure to save some room after a delicious meal out on Lygon Street for the unrivalled sweet-tooth extravaganza that is Pidapipo Gelateria.
Named after a cherished Italian childhood game, Pidapipo screams kid-friendly just as much as it screams for ice-cream – or should we say, gelato. A classic family owned and run business, brother-sister duo Jamie and Lisa Valmorbida craft their authentic gelato from scratch on-site. The gelateria uses only small batches with the finest ingredients, and never compromises on freshness or flavour.
This Lygon Street gem boasts classic yet mouth watering flavours like salted caramel, vanilla honeycomb, raspberry swirl, and (our personal favourite) coconut, roasted macadamias & white chocolate brownies. If you’re hoping to score some brownie points for yourself these holidays, be sure to take the kids to this unmissable gelateria.
Al Fresco Delights: Outdoor Dining in Carlton, Melbourne
As the sun sets, Lygon Street transforms into a lively outdoor dining scene, where you can enjoy the balmy Melbourne evenings while indulging in exquisite cuisine. If al fresco dining is your cup of tea,we recommend these delicious indoor-outdoor restaurants.
303 Lygon Street
Tiamo is an iconic Italian trattoria that boasts a charming al fresco area. Take a seat at the umbrella-covered tables lining Lygon Street and bask in the many flavours of pizza, pasta, and antipasti while savouring a spot of people-watching.
The vibrant atmosphere of Carlton Melbourne’s Little Italy is only matched by Tiamo’s exquisite menu. Highlights include the fluffy Garlic Focaccia, the classic Spaghetti Marinara, the indulgent Quattro Funghi pizza, and the decadent homemade Cannoli.
333 Lygon Street
Let’s take a short but memorable departure from our Italian restaurants on Lygon Street and delve into fresh seafood and vibrant coastal flavours served under the stars. For those seeking a taste of the Mediterranean, Jimmy Watson's Wine Bar is a must-visit.
With its cosy al fresco courtyard, this historic establishment offers an extensive wine list and a menu featuring delectable dishes such as charcuterie boards, gourmet burgers, and seafood platters. Sit back, relax, and let the warm breeze and cheerful outdoor ambience elevate your dining experience.
Some of our must-try menu picks include the Chilli Honey Prawns with Grain Salad, the Zucchini Flower and White Bean Falafel with Pumpkin and Rocket Salad, and the Buffalo Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil.
Immerse Yourself in Melbourne’s Beloved Culinary Culture
Lygon Street in Carlton, Melbourne is a true food lover's paradise, where history, culture, and mouth watering flavours converge. With its eclectic array of restaurants and bars, there's something to suit every palate and occasion. Whether you're a fan of Italian cuisine, seeking family-friendly eateries, craving al fresco dining experiences, or looking for a romantic retreat, Lygon Street has it all.
And what better place to enjoy all that Lygon Street has to offer than by staying at Crowne Plaza Melbourne? Located just moments away, our hotel puts the best of Melbourne right at your doorstep. After a day of culinary exploration, retreat to the comfort of our luxurious rooms, with beds so comfy you'll never want to leave. Immerse yourself in Melbourne's beloved culinary culture and book your stay at Crowne Plaza Melbourne today. You won't regret it!