Mamma Mia! Can't miss Italian restaurants in Victoria

Victoria may not have a designated Little Italy (unless the Leonardo da Vinci cultural centre counts), but it’s not lacking an Italian culinary scene. From authentic Old World dining to West Coast-flavoured contemporary Italian, from romantic candlelight meals to family-friendly feasts, this list has got your Italian cravings covered. Buon Appetito!

Il Terrazzo Ristorante

1
555 Johnson St, Victoria, BC V8W 1M2

A turn down historic Waddington Alley, still paved with wooden blocks, takes you to Il Terrazzo. Northern Italian specialties like risotto and osso buco are served at candlelit tables, while six brick fireplaces add to the romantic ambience. Try the zuppa di pesce, a fisherman’s stew prepared with Pacific seafood and don’t forget to take home some biscottino della casa to enjoy with your morning coffee. To sip while you sup, the restaurant offers over 1,000 wines. This is likely the most extensive menu in the city, and the knowledgeable staff can help you choose a bottle.

Il Covo Trattoria

2
106 Superior St, Victoria, BC V8V 1T1

A newer addition to the local Italian landscape, Il Covo is garnering rave reviews. From its Tuscan-inspired menu, choose the Italiano platter of cured meats, cheeses and marinated veggies before moving on to the agnolotti con sugo di noci or the delicate scaloppini di parma. Save room for torta al cioccolato (chocolate cake with a caramel reduction). On warm evenings, a seat on the beautiful garden patio is a must. And parents take note of the bambino menu, featuring kid-pleasing dishes such as spaghetti with meat sauce, and flatbread pizza.

Zambri's

3
820 Yates St, Victoria, BC V8W 1L8

This award winning trattoria blends the classic and the contemporary both in its decor and on its menu. Ornate chandeliers act as counterpoint to the expansive, street-side windows. The dinner menu offers a small selection of entrees in addition to pastas and pizza; the crispy pork shoulder is a standout. A sommelier is on hand to assist with the wine menu, which features regional Italian bottles.

Pizzeria Prima Strada

4
2960 Bridge St, Victoria, BC V8T 4T3

Prima Strada brings authentic pizza from Naples to this converted garage on an out of the way street. Neapolitan pizza makers (pizzaioli) use wood-fired ovens to achieve that special crisp crust, and so does Prima Strada. The restaurant even has a mobile version that appears at local events and markets. Try the classic margherita (tomato, basil, buffalo mozza) or the carpaccio (beef tenderloin, radish). Finish your meal with a bracing shot of grappa in your espresso (caffe corretto). A second location in town offers the same menu, with a little less ambience.

Fiamo Italian Kitchen

5
515 Yates St, Victoria, BC V8W 1K7

Fiamo’s offers several dining options, depending on your mood. You might chose to eat in the busy bar or the quiet dining room, while larger groups can enjoy the mezzanine. The restaurant supports an urban rooftop garden initiative that supplies much of its produce. The food is simple but well executed; meatballs, calamari, chicken Parmesan and linguini marinara are standard favourites. Excellent pizza makes for enjoyable late-night dining over a glass of wine.

Cafe Brio

6
944 Fort St, Victoria, BC V8V 3K2

Café Brio serves what it calls Italian-leaning cuisine using West Coast ingredients. Dishes such as pan-roasted rockfish with polenta gnocchi qualify as a resounding “leaning” success, as does grilled Pacific octopus. There’s no leaning when it comes to its family meals, six dishes chosen by the chef and served family style in the middle of the table in accordance with full-on Italian tradition. Cheese lovers will appreciate the large selection of local cheeses, and the eclectic wine list is big on North American West Coast vintages.

The Old Spaghetti Factory

7
703 Douglas St, Victoria, BC V8W 2B4

A local stalwart, this chain restaurant offers consistency and value. All entrees are served with bread, soup or salad, dessert and tea or coffee. And families, especially with younger children, will appreciate the kids’ menu. Typical offerings include house specialty baked pasta or chicken parmigiana served with a starter of steamed mussels or minestrone. While it may not be innovative or exceptional, the food is solid, comfortable and familiar. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Pagliacci's

8
1011 Broad St, Victoria, BC V8W 2A1

Irreverent, kitschy, corny, cheesy – how to describe a restaurant where every menu item is a bad pun? At least you can say Pagliacci’s, around since 1979, is never dull! In its heyday, luminaries such as Susan Sarandon and Bob Dylan dined here, and while it may not be up on contemporary Italian cuisine trends, it’s worth a visit if only for the one-liners on the menu. Sample Bill Murray’s Meatballs, the Shell Game (“we fix it, you can’t lose”) or Salmon Chanted Evening, and don’t say you weren’t warned about the puns.

Med Grill Royal Oak

9
4512 West Saanich Rd, Victoria, BC V8Z 3G4

Saanich’s former century-old municipal hall is home to Med Grill. Its seasonal menu is Mediterranean inspired, and everything is made in-house. The restaurant makes this list for its Tuscan table, a four-course dinner that changes monthly. Several choices are available within each course, and wine pairing is offered. Recent tables have opened with the heirloom tomato bruschetta and moved on to smoked ham and white navy bean zuppa followed by pan-roasted sockeye salmon Florentine, finishing with lemon brûlée cheesecake.

Business lunch isn’t always about meeting customers. Sometimes it’s about kicking ideas around during a casual lunch with colleagues. And a nicely priced meal in a sociable setting will do wonders for your productivity. Victoria has plenty of office-retreat eatery options. The common denominator in our list is fast, friendly service that gives you plenty of time to refuel and recharge before you’re back to the daily grind.
Victoria earned the unofficial title of Canada’s craft beer capital in 1984, when archaic BC liquor laws were overturned, allowing Spinnakers to become the country’s first brewpub. It was once illegal to serve beer in the same building where it was brewed, but thankfully this is no longer the case. With quality brewpubs and plenty of local taps, Victoria is the place for microbrew aficionados to raise a pint.
Afternoon tea dates back to 1840 England; Victoria, with strong historical ties to the British Motherland, upholds this tradition in fine style. But don’t believe it’s all stuffy, prim and proper – afternoon teas are becoming popular as children’s birthday parties. Whether you’re looking for a casual place for a light meal, or a more formal spot to impress your mother-in-law, this list has you covered.
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