Mangia Italiano: Where to find Christchurch's finest Italian restaurants
We've searched out Christchurch's best establishments offering a slice of the good life, inspired by the fields of Florence, streets of Rome and canals of Venice.
Words by: Petra Nyman
Photos by: Nancy Zhou and Anna Briggs
Who doesn’t love Italian food? Be it thin-crust pizza, handmade pasta or beautifully flavoured risotto, it’s hard to go wrong with offerings from the Mediterranean culinary heaven.
Seeped deep in history, Italian cooking is so much more than just a way to fill hungry tummies; it is a form of art, a way to show love. It is culture and heritage developed from recipes passed down by generations. While Italian cooking is inherently regional, an overall adherence to seasonality and fresh produce, liberal use of olive oil and fresh cheese, and meals paired with local wine, can all be considered staples of the cuisine.
Now that we’ve got you thinking about all of these wonderful culinary treats, you might wonder where to find authentic Italian food in Christchurch – and it just so happens that we’ve gathered up the best of the Italian restaurants right here. Whether you’re craving a plateful of quality gnocchi, a traditional spaghetti bolognese, a glass of Negroni, or perhaps a piece of heavenly tiramisu, Ōtautahi is home to a number of beautiful restaurants that can transport you to the streets of Italy in no time.
Francesca's Italian Kitchen Christchurch
149 Gloucester Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
Francesca's offers rustic, authentic Italian cuisine and hospitality right in the heart of Christchurch city. With a menu that is a complete Italian feast from primi to dolci, a centre-stage woodfire oven and a buzz like no other, this is one fantastic destination for an Italian immersion.
The Mediterranean Food Company
322 Tuam Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
If you have not yet walked through the doors of The Mediterranean Food Company, get ready to be wowed. Not only is this a destination for all your quality Italian home cooking needs, but it also boasts a restaurant with authentic offerings galore.
The menu has been inspired by the team’s favourite eateries across Rome, Venice, Florence and Bologna. In true Italian style, diners can begin with an antipasto platter full of cheese and meats from the deli and housemade bread and spreads, before continuing on to pizza, pasta, fresh salads and – of course – a scoop of gelato.
Sit outside in the piazza or find a nook inside and watch the buzz of the store while indulging in some delicious Italian cuisine.
270 St Asaph Street, Christchurch Central City
A hidden gem within The Boxed Quarter, ChiChi Kitchen offers a quirky Italian infusion menu, pairing different cultures and flavours together, the menu offering is a self-described quirky combination of Italian, Korean, American, Thai, Welsh and Japanese cuisine. Expect to stumble across dishes such as kimchi pasta, bulgogi pizza wrap or even green curry risotto!
That being said, the menu also boasts a bunch of classics done well. And like any self-respecting Italian restaurant, all the pasta is made from scratch in-house, as is the pizza dough, while high-quality seasonal ingredients help to seal the deal further.
76 Malcolm Avenue, Beckenham, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury
Tucked away in the quiet residential neighbourhood of Beckenham, The Birdwood is a corner shop restaurant with a beating Italian heart that pulls in locals and visitors alike. Famous for its homemade sourdough, which features as the base of its just-as-famous woodfired pizza, The Birdwood is a destination not to bypass.
Casa Nostra Italian Kitchen
2 Waterman Place, Ferrymead
Ferrymead may not be the first place that comes to mind when searching for some Italian culinary goodness, but let us prove you it should. Hidden within the strip malls of Ferry Road lies Casa Nostra, an authentic Italian restaurant known for its scrumptious handmade pasta and succulent seafood dishes. This is a spot that takes pride in great customer service and excellent ingredients. It also boasts an extensive take-away menu.
Photo: Stock (by Nancy Zhou)
13 London Street, Lyttelton
Perhaps the smallest Italian restaurant in Christchurch, Bomba in Lyttelton is all about quality, not quantity. Simply specialising in delicious pizza, here you can expect to dig your teeth into a proper, thick base covered with just the right amount of flavourful toppings.
During market days, it’s often possible to sample a slice if you’re quick enough – these sell quickly for a reason. For a bit of dulci, try Bomba’s selection of gelato, which is just as delicious as its savoury counterpart. We’re telling you, next time you find yourself in the port town, make sure to taste the offerings of this little gem.
Formaggio’s Ristorante & Pizzeria
150 Colombo Street, Beckenham
Formaggio’s on Colombo Street offers a family friendly dining experience with an abundant menu filled with options for all. A certified carbon neutral restaurant, this is the place for the environmentally conscious Italian food lover. There is a huge offering of plant based menu items all the way through from antipasti to dolce. Formaggio’s is a neighbourhood ristorante that is passionate about service, cuisine and ambience.
Photo: Stock (by Nancy Zhou)
168 St Asaph Street, Central Christchurch
One of the longest running Italian restaurants in Christchurch, Café Valentino draws inspiration from the cuisine of the Southern Coast of Italy. Expect to find a rich helping of seafood dishes along with other Italian classics, including Bruschetta, Eggplant Parmigiana and Lamb Flatbreads, alongside a lively atmosphere and friendly service.
Photo: Stock (by Anna Briggs)
192 Papanui Road, Merivale
An iconic slice of Italy in Ōtautahi, Tutto Bene has been providing Cantabrians with quality Italian food for over two decades. A down-to-earth, family friendly restaurant with quality at the heart of each dish, everything really is tutto bene here.
Located in the heart of Merivale, the neighbourhood restaurant is well-loved for its extensive Italian-themed menu of around 30 pizza and pasta dishes alone. Yet, Tutto Bene is much more than those traditional favourites, with a whole section dedicated to vegan eats as well as innovative New Zealand classics with Italian twists.
Photo: Stock (by Nancy Zhou)
More Christchurch & Canterbury Stories
Aotearoa's Underground Haunts, Rooftops and The In-betweens
From rooftop bars to underground haunts and hidden gems in-between, New Zealand has plenty of incredible spots hiding in our cities and towns. They may be a bit hard to find, but the best stuff takes a little effort, right?
New Brighton Good Life Guide: Jenna Ingram's Picks of the Neatest Things to do in New Brighton
Jenna Ingram is a Canadian-born, New Zealand-raised artist, mother, occasional MC/singer, and keen gardener who is slightly obsessed with growing and pickling pickles. She’s also the co-owner and Director of Fiksate Gallery, New Zealand's leading Urban Art gallery. We chatted to Jenna about her experiences in New Brighton and what makes it special.
Some Like It Hot: A Guide To New Zealand’s Best Hot Pools
Remedy your winter chills by submerging yourself in one of these dreamy (and super steamy) hot pools.
How to Survive a Hot Summer’s Day in Christchurch
An Interview with Josh Bradshaw of Sonder Leather Goods
Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places
Kokomo brings a modern coastal dining experience to Ōtautahi Christchurch.
Dark, a little brooding and faultless in its theme, Bessie is an immaculate display of fine dining in the inner city.
The Observatory Hotel
The Observatory Hotel is a beautiful central location in Christchurch, allowing you to leave the car for your stay and explore the city on foot.
Found down a laneway in The Crossing precinct, the retail heart of Christchurch’s inner city, shopping at A&C Homestore is always a dreamy experience.
If bars could be left or right handed, Dux Central would be ambidextrous. There’s nothing this place can’t be.