What makes the ultimate Italian meal, and who is serving it up in Brisbane? We asked you, our readers, what restaurants you love and why and the results are in. Read on to find out the best Italian restaurants in Brisbane.

When deciding on what puts a restaurant above all others, what needs to be considered?

Is it the ability to create the perfect pizza, drizzled in cheese and traditional toppings, coming piping hot out of the oven and onto your plate? Or is it a dreamy, creamy pasta dish that slides down your throat, leaving a flavoursome trail of delight? The ambience and atmosphere? The size and strength of the wine list? These were all factors our readers had to consider as they cast their vote.

There are hundreds of great Italian restaurants in Brisbane, and thousands of votes came flooding in. But there can only be four winners — let’s find out who they are, shall we?

The Rustic Olive

79 Redcliffe Parade, Redcliffe
3889 3199

Overall winner
North East winner

The people have spoken with their plates, and The Rustic Olive has been crowned the bmag People’s Choice for Brisbane’s Best Italian Restaurant. Once you’ve experienced a meal there, it’s easy to see why. Inviting a loyalty that is almost unheard of in today’s fickle foodie culture, The Rustic Olive wins not necessarily for the fanciest food but for the genuine service, the atmosphere and the consistency. Open from 10am until late, six days a week, the restaurant is situated on the waterfront at Redcliffe and it’s this beautiful location that creates such a relaxing ambience.

And of course the food is delicious, the portion sizes are very generous and the menu is extensive, with over 30 pasta dishes, 27 pizza options and 10 salads to choose from — then there’s the entrees, mains and desserts as well. This family-friendly place is always buzzing and packed with hungry diners so be prepared to wait for a table unless you’ve booked.

We talked to owner Sam Ayache about the exciting win and asked him why he thought his restaurant came out on top.

Why do you think people voted for your restaurant?

Honestly, I think it’s the quality and service that we offer. The team we have at the restaurant is truly amazing and we have earned a very very loyal customer base. The quality of our product is consistent, we deliver what we promise every time. And people know this and keep coming back.

What dish is the most popular?

People love our Fettuccine Monaco, a pasta dish with scallops, prawns and salmon in a dill cream sauce. It’s so delicious and so popular any night of the week.

Who is the head chef?
Joseph Alcala.

What makes The Rustic Olive different to other Italian restaurants?

The value we offer, the quality of the food and the consistent product. We cater to any taste by offering traditional Italian options, modern food trends and also a range of healthy choices for those who are very mindful of what they eat. Our menu is pretty extensive and covers all bases from seafood to steak to salad and pizza, pasta and desserts. And honestly, I think a big part of it is our dream team of staff. We have over 50 people who work for The Rustic Olive and most of them have been with us for over six years. They’re the backbone of the place and I am always amazed that they can keep up with the pace. But they do and they’re a big part of our success.

The Rustic Olive has won $2,000 cash and a $3,000 bmag advertising package, a plaque, and editorial in print and online!

The Roman Empire Restaurant

742 Creek Rd, Carina Heights
3420 0969

South East winner

The Roman Empire Restaurant have worked hard to develop an authentic Italian meal experience for all occasions and according to our voters, they have most definitely succeeded. Traditional recipes have been passed down from generation to generation with a modern touch by chef brothers, Giuseppe and Donato Laurito, who have owned this family business since 1998.

One of their points of difference is that they source fresh ingredients as locally as possible without compromising on quality. While other restaurants may prepare for a week at a time, Roman Empire do their prep and sauces every day. Their local suppliers deliver daily and nothing is frozen. Oh, and Pappa Laurito tenderly grows the best and freshest herbs and vegetables in his garden at home for this family enterprise. You really know you’re eating local when it’s come out of the patriarch’s garden.

We chatted to Donato Laurito about his winning venue.

Why do you think people voted for your restaurant?

Myself or my brother Giuseppe are always here to make sure everyone is happy, so we are truly a family business. My mother and father still work in the restaurant when we need them, too. Dad grows all the herbs at home and some of the vegetables as well. And Mum makes all the gnocchi, lasagne sheets, cannoli shells by hand and helps out in the kitchen when we need her and she’s 75 years old!

What dish is the most popular?

Fettucine Pollo, which has been on the menu since 1997. We like to call it the D&G special (because both myself and Giuseppe love it). It’s a pasta dish with chicken, macadamia nuts, semi-dried tomatoes and a deliciously creamy sauce.

Who is the head chef?

My brother is the main chef and he’s in the kitchen five days a week and I jump in there on the other two days. We are both qualified chefs but he is in the kitchen more.

What makes The Roman Empire Restaurant different to other Italian restaurants?

I think it’s because we’ve kept the menu very traditional and the food has that homemade feel to it. We’re also very kid-friendly. Both my brother and I have children so we understand that when the kids are happy, the parents can relax and be happy too. So it’s very important to us that families want to come here. We are all about eating together as a family.

The Roman Empire has won a $3,000 bmag advertising package and a plaque, as well as editorial in print and online!

Mariosarti Ristorante Italiano

41 Sherwood Road, Toowong
3870 4933

North West winner

Established in 1995, Mariosarti Ristorante Italiano has garnered a loyal following of patrons and has expanded to include another location at Bardon.

Taking over the reins in 2010, owner Risko Isic came to Mariosarti after a long and interesting journey through life. Moving from Bosnia to Switzerland, he studied Hotel Management and once he completed his degree, he worked in the hospitality and hotel industry for 10 years before immigrating to Australia. Finally, he bit the bullet and bought Mariosarti with Daniel Milos, his business partner. They continue the tradition created by past owners Mario and John and aim to bring you the finest ingredients and produce available, accompanied by some of the finest wines in the world. Sounds like the perfect combination.

Catching the hyperactive Risko at a quiet moment was difficult, but when we did, he explained how grateful he feels for the win and talked about his restaurant with passion and belief.

Why do you think people voted for your restaurant?

We always exceed expectations, I think that makes a huge impact on people’s dining experience. We pride ourselves on offering great food, great service and a great atmosphere.

What dish is the most popular?

Oh, that is such a difficult question as there are so many choices. But one that stands out straightaway is the Spaghetti Alla Marinara, which has Queensland tiger prawns, Moreton Bay bug, scallops and squid sautéed in chilli, garlic and a light Napoli sauce. This is such a popular choice. And also the Pancetta Di Maiale which is Mariosarti’s signature crispy skin pork belly with scented pumpkin and carrot puree, topped with green pea and roasted macadamia pesto.

Who is the head chef?

Ryan McIver.

What makes Mariosarti Ristorante Italiano different to other Italian restaurants?

We have been around for 20 years and are one of the iconic restaurants in Brisbane. It’s a place that makes people feel warm and makes people feel good. Our team of staff are so helpful, friendly and welcoming that people instantly feel comfortable. We really want to make you feel like one of the regulars even if it’s your very first time in the restaurant.

Mariosarti Ristorante Italiano has won a $3,000 bmag advertising package and a plaque, as well as editorial in print and online!

dell’Ugo Southbank

182 Grey St, South Brisbane
07 3844 0500

South West winner

dell’Ugo Southbank is all about Italian Venetian style cuisine, using fresh local produce and imported ingredients, and you enjoy all this in a beautifully elegant venue. Opened in 2004 by Soula, Michael and Yianni Passaris and their partners Joe and Gloria Robertiello, this modern restaurant offers southern Italian cuisine specialising in seafood, meat and homemade pasta and many imported Italian items as well.

On the menu, you will find many modern Italian meals from many different regions of Italy and customers are able to experience the wonderful dishes specially prepared by the team of experienced chefs from Italy.

They’ve just introduced their summer menu, which also includes many vegetarian dishes.

We got Yianni on the phone to talk about the win and why dell’Ugo Southbank stands out from the rest.

Why do you think people voted for your restaurant?

We’ve been established for ten years now and we’ve maintained our excellent reputation. I think it’s because we use such good quality produce and offer such good quality service that people want to keep coming back. Our consistency is one of our main strengths.

What dish is the most popular?

Our signature dish the Lasagna con granseola e gamberetti (Crab and prawn lasagna w/ tomato béchamel) or the Linguine dell’ egadi (Squid ink linguine, prawns, cherry tomato, basil, garlic and chilli). Both are very popular and are delicious.

Who is the head chef?

Domenico Romano.

What makes dell’Ugo Southbank different to other Italian restaurants?

We’re a family-run business and we make people feel welcome as soon as they walk through the door. We all work in the business ourselves so we’re always there and know what’s going on. We know all the names of our customers and the welcome when you walk in will make you feel very valued and special. And we want each visit to be an experience. We love teaching people about the menu, how to work their way through it and explain how it all works. Some people don’t understand the beauty of eating well and choosing the right dishes in combination. We also have an excellent selection of wines that all our staff are very educated about so we love to share all that knowledge so the customers have a perfect meal.

dell’Ugo Southbank has won a $3,000 advertising package and a plaque, as well as editorial in print and online!

There’s one more winner to be announced, of course — congratulations to voter Damien Mifsud, who’s been randomly selected to win $500 to spend at the winning restaurant, as well as $500 cash! 

Who did you vote for? What do you think of the final winners? Was your favourite Italian restaurant skipped over or justly rewarded? Let us know in the comments below!