Food

The Best Italian Restaurants in Manila for Every Occasion

Italian cuisine is having a renaissance and it's happening in Manila,
IMAGE Cibo.ph/Facebook La Spezia MNL
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Carbs are delicious. Italian carbs—even better. There's nothing compared to the culinary rewards you get in the best Italian restaurants in Manila. 

We don't have to explain why Italian cuisine is beloved the world over; food-crazy Metro Manila is no exception. Filipinos cannot get enough of Italian pizzas and pastas. Spaghetti sauce, macaroni, olive oil, and basil are pantry staples here, sharing space with rice, patis, and Lucky-Me.

Where are Manila's best Italian restaurants?

The best Italian restaurants in Manila are the old standbys for those of us who travel in packs since there is something for everybody. There is brawny bistecca Fiorentina for dad; gooey burrata and arugula salad for mom; and creamy bowls of spaghetti carbonara for the little ones. It’s easy to develop habits in this cuisine that features comforting dishes and highlights fresh, premium ingredients.

Food industry insiders have noticed a spike in Italian restaurant openings lately, and it’s good to note those who are doing it right. Note that pizzerias are not included on this list: The mighty pizza deserves its own. Because our cravings tend to differ depending on our moods, this list is not ranked. Regardless of occasion, if you go Italian, it’s hard to get it wrong, especially with Manila's best Italian restaurants. What's even better than this list is knowing that more Italian restaurants are coming to Manila in the very near future. 

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1| Caruso

Fans of The Sopranos often comment how this slightly off-the-grid Makati establishment makes them feel like they just got off the boat from “the old country.” Another one of Manila's best Italian restaurants, Caruso's comprehensive menu contains all the classics and we recommend you enjoy a long, leisurely meal here. While the food is consistently stellar, the starched linens, elegant bottle service, and quick, friendly service will make you want to stay anyway.

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Carbo-load on: Garganelli di Mamma Martina, Pizza Caruso, Scaloppine di Vitelo al Limone

Nicanor Garcia Street, Bel-Air, Makati; 02-895-2451

2| Finestra

With its branding as an “Italian steakhouse,” you can already categorize this fancy establishment under your “special occasion” list. The wine menu is 30 pages long, and the food menu reads like a shiekh’s pantry. Hokkaido scallops, fin de claire oysters, Omi Wagyu—everything is top-grade at this Italian restaurant. For the high-rollers at swanky casino hotel, Solaire, only the most expensive calories will do.

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Carbo-load on: Giant Burrata, Agnolotti Tartufo Carbonara, Omi Wagyu Tenderloin

Solaire, Aseana Avenue, Entertainment City, Pasay; 02-888-8888

3| Va Bene

A gasoline station on EDSA doesn't seem to be the ideal venue for a great Italian restaurant in Manila, but Massimo Veronesi makes pasta that is worth the pitstop. The former hotel chef prepares dishes worthy of a much flashier setting, but judging by its equally laidback BGC branch, Veronesi clearly wants to keep his food approachable. Va Bene has become another go-to Italian restaurant in Manila thanks to its reliable comfort food.

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Carbo-load on: Organic Eggs Tagliatelle, Veal Cheeks Spinach Ravioli, Mushroom Risotto

vabenepastadeli.com

4| La Spezia

IMAGE: Jason Mariposa

Like the quaint coastal town it was named after, this Tomas Morato eatery offers a refreshing respite amidst the area’s rather ho-hum food options. The menu is simple and straightforward, but done so incredibly well that pretty much everything it offers is worth coming back for. The two young chefs behind La Spezia are extremely committed to quality, importing tomatoes from Italy and crafting quarterly revisions to its menu. It's not a stretch to say that it's one of the top Italian restaurants in Quezon City.

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Carbo-load on: Spaghetti alle Vongole Veraci, Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Bistecca

Dr. Lazcano Street, Tomas Morato, Quezon City; 0956-517-845202-960-6903

5| Cibo

Cibo is probably the default Italian restaurant in Manila. This chain of casual dining eateries taught a whole generation of Filipinos what makes a good bowl of pasta. First, that it begins with good ingredients; and, second, it does not have to be complicated. For a time, all we knew were either red or white sauces over overcooked spaghetti until Margarita Fores introduced us to a world of possibilities. After over 20 years, Cibo's position in the local market is as al dente as ever.

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Carbo-load on: Penne al Telefono, Linguine alla Ghiotta, Linguine al Nero

cibo.ph

6| Bellini’s

IMAGE: Jose Enrique Soriano

The Cubao institution owned by former Italian paparazzo Roberto Bellini and wife Maria Luisa, continues to thrive despite the competition. While the food might have been inconsistent over the years, the irrepressible character of its feisty owner and kitschy interiors is hard to resist. The excellent pastas are good enough to make up for its secondis. Its overall charm gives it a well-deserved spot in Manila's best Italian restaurants list.

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Carbo-load on: Spaghetti with Truffle Cream and Prosciutto, Pizza Salsiccia, Orange Cake

Cubao Expo, General Romulo Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City; 02-913-2550

7| Mama Lou’s

Do not scoff at the campy, family-friendly atmosphere because the food here is seriously good. What began as a small operation in BF Homes is now a chain of casual eateries known for well-priced Italian fare. This Italian restaurant is the perfect venue for gatherings and celebrations because it is wholesome, hearty, and relatively cheap.

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Carbo-load on: Vesuvio, Chicken Picatta, Spaghetti Seafood Olio

Mama Lou's

8| Francesco’s Kitchen

Former hotel chef Francesco Rizzo (of EDSA Shangri-La Hotel’s Paparazzi) dropped the fancy frills of his previous employ and settles nicely into the residential area of San Juan. The homey vibe of his spacious restaurant harks back to his childhood growing up in Italy and cooking with the women in his life. Though it's not the most popular Italian restaurant in Manila, it's worth the trip. Many of his dishes are heirloom recipes.

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Carbo-load on: Orechiette with Broccolini and Bottarga, Beef Cheeks Risotto, Polpette di Mamma

Mabini Street, Addition Hills, San Juan City; 02-777-97-77

9| Pasteleria La Nuova

This old-school joint in the metro’s fanciest neighborhood stays true to a tried-and-tested formula that keeps its regulars coming back. While the sign says pasteleria (or cake shop), the menu is straightforward Italian with antipasti, pizza, pasta, secondi, and of course, desserts. The casual space is perfect for a quick meal, or score a quiet corner and enjoy a languid, Italian-style lunch that could last hours. It's a dessert shop, primarily, yes, but it's also one of the best Italian restaurants in Manila.

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Carbo-load on: Liguine Tartufo, Ravioli Verdi, Pasta Pasteleria

San Antonio Plaza, McKinley Road, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City; 02-817-856802-867-2370

10| Da Gianni

Southern settlers swear by this establishment which just happens to belong to actor Matteo Guidicelli and his family. The star power here, though, truly lies in the heirloom recipes of the Guidicelli nonno and nonna who migrated to Cebu from Italy. Now, it's one of Manila's best Italian restaurants. The Alabang branch is a more upscale version of its trattoria in Cebu, but the homey classics that put them on the map remain. 

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Carbo-load on: Tagliatelle Ragu Bianco, Four Cheese Gnocchi, Prosciutto Pizza

Westgate Center, Filinvest City, Muntinlupa City; 02-839-01760917-167-8350

11| L’ Opera

This BGC restaurant is frozen in time, and this is exactly how we want it. Even in its old Makati location, this fine-dining Italian joint was the favored venue for first dates and marriage proposals. Decades later, it is still one of the best places to bring that special someone wishing to be wined and dined.

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Carbo-load on: Duck Ravioli, Champagne Risotto, Tiramisu

Fort Strip, 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; 02-889-2784; www.loperagroup.com

12| Osteria Daniele

This newly opened Italian restaurant in BGC is helmed by the same group of guys behind Las Flores, Tomatito, Rambla, and BCN. The Bistronomia's experience in the industry allowed them to craft a fully realized concept that puts together great food, a great look, a great atmosphere, and (if you know their restaurant's history), great drinks. 

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Carbo-load on: Spuntini, Tuna Carpaccio, and that extensive drinks menu

Tower 1, High Street Corporate Plaza, 9th Avenue corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; +63915-8745-792.

13| Cicchetti


Tucked away in a the quieter side of BGC, this obscure eatery offers Venetian-style small bites best consumed with wine. Named after the Italian-style tapas, Cicchetti allows guests to indulge in a dizzying array of flavors without feeling overly stuffed. Still, its selection of unique pasta dishes are not to be missed.

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Carbo-load on: Cicchetti flight, Spagghettoni ala Vodka, Crab and Ricci

MDI Corporate Center, 10th Avenue corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

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About The Author
Jaclyn Clemente Koppe
Chinkee writes and eats for a living. By living, she means cake. Or steak. When she's not eating, she's running her own blog-shop, OneBigBite.com.
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