At 10Best, we're always on the lookout for Victoria's best restaurants, and while we appreciate places that have a broad culinary range, we can't help but adore restaurants that specialize in a given cuisine. When we're in the mood for Italian food in Victoria, we head to II Terrazzo Ristorante - a reader favorite - or we count on Cafe Brio's solid track record and consistently great dishes. You'll find these places - and any of the restaurants on our list - to be fantastic options for Italian cuisine, and if you're looking to concentrate your efforts, start with the vibrant Downtown area.


Warm terra cotta tones, candlelight and hardwood floors make for an intimate dining experience at this Tuscan-inspired Italian restaurant. The menu changes daily according to the fresh produce and seafood available. For an appetizer, try homemade pork, fennel and red wine sausage. A popular entrée is crusted Alaskan scallops with tomatoes, basil and crème fraîche. There are plenty of pasta and vegetarian options for the non-meat eaters in your party. Victorians brag about Café Brio's great wine list – it's reasonably priced and features many local vintages. Smart-casual to business-dressy attire. Reservations suggested.

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The bustle and energy at Pagliacci's is non-stop. This New York-style Italian restaurant is a favorite among locals. The cuisine is traditional southern Italian, including knock-your-socks-off ravioli and luscious veal parmigiana. You'll also find 20 a la carte pastas available, each made by hand. This is one of the best late night eateries in the city. Try fresh, warm focaccia while you listen to live music Sundays through Wednesdays. A limited menu is available from 3pm-6pm.

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This bustling restaurant offers some of Victoria's best Northern Italian cuisine. Thanks to a covered terrace and five outdoor fireplaces, it's possible to enjoy your meal al fresco no matter what the weather. The excellent appetizers include such temptations as smoked tuna over fresh arugula with horseradish dressing. For an entrée, try linguine with prawns, mussels, clams, calamari and tomatoes in a white wine and saffron broth. All pastas are made fresh to order and, as you would expect, Il Terrazzo features a wonderful selection of Italian wines. Business casual attire. Reservations required.

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Regularly voted best pizza on Vancouver Island, this two-for-one joint does indeed have impressive pies. Try the Barcelona (chorizo, feta, spinach, roasted garlic, onions), the Chipotle (roasted chicken, green peppers, red onions, spicy chipotle sauce, roasted red peppers, mushrooms), or the Pacific Salmon (smoked salmon, spinach, red onions, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, shrimp). Or create your own masterpiece, choosing from 30+ toppings, six sauces, and three different types of crust. If you're ordering by the slice, better start with just one – these babies are HUGE. And vegans and lactose intolerant folks take note – soy cheese is available, too.

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Elk Lake / Cordova Bay
Med Grill
Photo courtesy of Med Grill

With wrought iron accents, a fireplace, and lots of plants, the Med Grill has a stylish air that's decidedly popular. Adding to the overall pleasantness is confident and good-humored service. Food is the crowning touch. Artistically plated, dishes have a Mediterranean/Italian flair. Steak, topped with prawns and a bacon-wrapped scallop, is a good choice, as is smoked chicken and artichoke penne. Salads are super fresh and creative. Vegetarians can dine well here, too – if the one or two vegetarian dishes on the menu don't appeal to you, ask what the kitchen can dream up – you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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At lunch Zambri's is a super-casual buffet style restaurant with good pastas and salads, but at night, it's a whole different story. Dinner is an upscale sit-down affair where house-made sausages, marinated octopus and other Italian delicacies are featured on the menu. The owners work with local farms to obtain the freshest seasonal ingredients, many of them organic, and the chef is well-traveled and quite experienced, so you can definitely expect a gourmet Italian meal. But for the ultimate experience, try the multi-course tasting menu on Saturday nights.

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The lively flavors of the Mediterranean complement Pacific Northwest produce admirably, and the Black Olive proves that fact quite deftly. Appetizer choices are interesting – try mushroom duxelle wrapped in flaky phyllo pastry with red pepper aioli, or a warm spinach salad with onion, mushroom, tomato and feta-lemon cream. Mains include fresh seafood and pasta, such as grilled salmon with pesto, cioppino, and seafood linguine with scallops, prawns, mussels and roasted red peppers in black olive pesto and white wine cream sauce. There are also plenty of steaks, plus a wonderful rack of lamb. The lunch menu includes sandwiches and burgers.

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North Victoria

Locally owned and operated since 1974, this casual family-friendly restaurant is a good choice for virtually any occasion. The local and regional press regularly deems Romeo's the best Vancouver Island pizza and granted, the pizza is awesome, with a choice of more than 25 toppings. But Romeo's has way more than just pizza – the eclectic menu also includes escargot, wings, oysters, spanakopita, egg rolls and fresh salads, and that's just the appetizers. Among the main dishes you'll find chicken cordon bleu, grilled top sirloin, veal parmesan, moussaka, fajitas and several cheesy baked pastas.

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Fernwood / Hillside

Greek and Italian favorites comprise a rather extensive menu that also features pizza and a handful of sandwiches. Pastas are excellent and varied; steaks, seafood and chicken are generally grilled and topped with lovely sauces and sautéed veggies. A good choice whether you're celebrating a special occasion or just hanging out with friends.

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Inner Harbour

Tuscan Italian meets a mix of Mediterranean and Spanish tastes at this charming traditional bistro. Featuring a beautiful centerpiece chandelier, the dining room is elegant and warm. Share a romantic dinner or a good time with friends by choosing one of the delicious pizzas or pasta dishes. For a private party, the separate mezzanine area is available to enjoy cocktails.

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