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Must-Try Italian Restaurants in the UK

Friday 13 October 2023

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Searching for a taste of the rolling hills of Tuscany, the crystal-clear sea of the Amalfi Coast or the ancient streets of Rome? We’ve taken a look at the best of Italian cuisine in the UK and created a definitive list of some absolute must-try pizza and pasta restaurants. From the picturesque corners of Edinburgh to Cambridge’s charming streets, these restaurants have earned a reputation for providing customers with delicious, authentic, and creative Italian food. Join CrossCountry as we taste-test the best Italian restaurants in the UK.

Azzurro Ristorante, Manchester

Established in 2004, Azzurro Ristorante is nestled in the fashionable village of West Didsbury in Manchester. This independent restaurant prides itself on market-fresh seafood specials and mouth-watering Italian dishes. We’re particularly keen on Nonna’s Cannelloni, a simple and flavoursome dish with butternut squash, ricotta, and spinach. Look out for their ever-changing specials board where you’ll find authentic delights such as Seafood Linguine.

On a summer evening, sit outside with a crisp glass of Gavi di Gavi, enjoy the lush greenery of Burton Road, and taste some great food with your friends. Azzurro Ristorante is open on Fridays and Saturdays only, so be sure to make a reservation in advance. The restaurant is also available to hire so if celebrating a birthday in Italy isn’t on the cards, this might be the next best thing!

Getting there by train: Azzurro Ristorante can be reached by tram from Manchester Piccadilly station.

La Locanda, Edinburgh

In search of an authentic Italian restaurant in Edinburgh? Look no further than La Locanda, located in Edinburgh’s enchanting old town. La Locanda captivates with its impressive wine list, featuring favourites like Barbera and Barolo, and a dynamic menu inspired by Italy’s culinary heritage.
Dig into some homemade pasta, much loved by regular customers, like fresh lasagne or ravioli, or try a delicious daily special. This warm, inviting restaurant is the perfect setting for an intimate dinner with your significant other, with candlelight and flowers complementing the romantic atmosphere.

To ensure your table at La Locanda, we highly recommend making a reservation, as it’s a city favourite. Please note that reservations are limited to a maximum of four people, so plan accordingly and get ready to savour the genuine taste of Italy in Edinburgh.

Getting there by train: La Locanda is a short walk from Edinburgh Waverly station.

Cucina Rustica, Birmingham

Cucina Rustica is a beloved Italian restaurant in Birmingham – and for good reason! Located in the vibrant Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, Cucina Rustica specialises in delicious, authentic Italian dishes at budget-friendly prices.We’d particularly recommend the Penne della Cucina, a garlicky chicken and king prawn medley that promises to be a taste sensation. Cucina Rustica draws inspiration from all over Italy, from Southern favourites like Arancini to Northern delights like Minestrone soup.

The restaurant's wine menu is a sommelier’s dream: featuring fruity and floral whites, like Chablis and Vermentino; full-bodied reds, like Primitivo and Barolo; and, of course, a great selection of bubbly! Cucina Rustica is a spacious establishment with plenty of room for group bookings, making it the perfect place for birthday parties or work drinks. The tasteful interior, lined with Italian wines, makes for a great atmosphere.

Getting there by train: Cucina Rustica is a fifteen-minute walk from Birmingham New Street station.

Limoncello, Cambridge

Limoncello is a pretty little Italian bistro found on Mill Road in Cambridge. Its versatile space is perfect for casual daytime and evening dining experiences. Limoncello’s menu features seasonal Italian sensations like Porcini Mushroom Risotto and Quattro Stagioni Stone-Baked Pizza. Their dessert menu also features classics like Tiramisu and Affogato.

Beyond their culinary treats, Limoncello also boasts a small shop stocked with Italian staples with the opportunity to buy beautiful hampers of homemade pasta sauce, wine, olive oil, coffee, amaretti, and more. The restaurant takes reservations for dinner on its website, and if you’d like to pop in for lunch, Limoncello is happy to welcome you.

Getting there by train: Limoncello is a fifteen-minute walk from Cambridge station.

Casanova, Cardiff

Casanova is a charming Italian restaurant in Cardiff with a commitment to using the best of local Welsh produce to create authentic Italian dishes. What you see on the menu depends on the time of year you visit, as Casanova is particular about providing seasonal produce to ensure it’s the best it can be.

Menu highlights include the rich and hearty Venison Ragu and the Misto de Pesco - a delectable crab gnocchi with king prawns, fish fillet, octopus, and tomato. To finish off, why not try a classic Italian dessert? Casanova has panna cotta and cannoli for the sweet-toothed among you, and artisan cheese boards for those that like to extend the tastes of dinner.
In the unpretentious ambiance of Casanova, you'll discover an enjoyable Italian dining experience, ideal for intimate dates and gatherings of family and friends.

Getting there by train: Casanova is a ten minute walk from Cardiff Central station.

La Lanterna, Glasgow

In 2022, La Lanterna won first prize as Scotland’s Best Italian Restaurant in the West. This award is well-deserved for Glasgow’s longest-running Italian restaurant, which has been feeding happy patrons since 1970.

Located on Hope Street, La Lanterna’s interior is charming and inviting, with walls adorned with rustic sketches of the Italian countryside. There is also a bar stocked with all sorts of delicious wines and Birra Moretti on tap. Customers can expect to be delighted with gastronomic classics like Lobster Ravioli and Risotto Pollo e Funghi. And why not finish your culinary journey off with a Creme Brulee and a cappuccino?

Getting there by train: La Lanterna is just over the road from Glasgow Central station.

If you’re planning to sample the best of the UK’s Italian food, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or the CrossCountry app. If you need more information, you can contact us here.

Written by Abby

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