Is there any better cuisine for comfort food than Italian?
Putting emphasis on rich flavours and ingredients that are simple yet high in quality, there’s hardly a person out there who doesn’t go wild for a good pizza or heaping plate of pasta; and lucky for those of us living in Hamilton, this city has no shortage of spots specializing in Italian deliciousness.
From old-school, homestyle fare to modern, elevated carb-forward creations, we’ve culled our list of the 10 best spots for Italian food in Hamilton!
The very definition of a Hamilton classic. A longstanding subterranean spot for humble, no-nonsense Italian-American eats for the past 30 years, Bronzie’s Place has a loyal fanbase and a reputation for homemade pastas and pizzas that are as flavourful as they are affordable.
It’s frankly surprising that this homey joint has managed to keep its menu prices so easy on the wallet over the years, but Bronzie’s remains one of Hamilton’s most reasonably priced spots for classic Italian-American staples like chicken parmigiana, lasagna, and gnocchi. The sauces – from marinara to pesto – are all homemade, the portions are beyond generous (seriously, you get enough for multiple meals), and the pastas even come with sides of house salad and fresh bread. What could be better?
A Downtown Hamilton icon, Capri Ristorante does old school Italian cuisine very, very well.
Located on John Street North, this restaurant has been run by the Fiorino family since the early 1960s and has held a strong reputation in Hamilton in the decades to follow. The menu is straightforward but sizeable, with a head-spinning amount of dishes on offer like salads, soups, antipasti, pizzas, and pasta dishes like carbonara and cannelloni.
Simple and authentic Italian cuisine continues to be the beating heart behind Capri Ristorante.
Another decades-old staple of the local food scene, La Piazza Allegra has long been a favourite for Italian food lovers of Hamilton, blending traditional dishes with house-made specialities.
Chef Mark Farrugia helms a thoughtful, authentic menu that includes hearty pastas, risotto, salads, and bruschetta, with some more indulgent fare like braised lamb shank or Ossobuco, a dish that sees veal braised in tomato sauce. It’s not hard to see why this restaurant has continued to stand the test of time.
One of the most iconic Italian eateries in Hamilton, Valentino’s Restaurant – a local staple since 1978 – sports two thriving locations in the city and a packed menu of approachable, homey, traditional Italian fare.
Not only does the restaurant offer a rangy array of pizzas and pasta dishes like Italian-style mac ‘n cheese or spicy penne, they were also the first restaurant in Hamilton to feature panzarotti on the menu; a popular option they continue to serve to this day.
A relatively recent addition to Hamilton’s Italian food scene, CIMA Enoteca takes a decidedly modern approach to its menu.
Served in a sleek setting on Locke Street, CIMA puts fine ingredients like truffle, 6-year-old balsamic, and DOP Parmigiano Reggiano to work in a range of pastas, pizzas, antipasti, and charcuterie.
Pizzas are cooked in a Neapolitan style in a wood-fired oven, and their Bomboloni – a warm, sugar-dusted donut stuffed with Nutella – provides a sweet and satisfying finale. For hearty Italian cuisine with contemporary flourishes, CIMA Enoteca is a solid pick.
In an unassuming corner unit of a small strip plaza on Upper James lies one of Hamilton’s enduring spots for fresh, homemade pastas and other Italian indulgences.
Moody and intimate despite its blasé locale, La Spaghett has been serving Hamilton for over 20 years, serving up a wide selection of pasta shapes – made in-house, to boot – with a choice of sauces ranging from tomato to Alfredo to bolognese to pesto and more.
Finished with toppings like vegetables, cuts of meat, and fresh cheese, La Spaghett’s menu is diverse enough to have something for pretty much anyone.
Rustic Italian cuisine honours tradition while adding some elevated modern touches at this James North eatery.
Headed by Chef Daniel Mancini, Castelli Cucina’s menu features wood-fired pizzas, pastas with handmade noodles, and some antipasti and insalata to round things off; all made with fresh ingredients of the highest quality.
I mean, come on; when a menu gives you the option to add fresh-shaved truffle to your pasta dish, you know you’re in a spot that aims to kick things up a notch or two. Better still, Castelli does that while maintaining a warm, inviting, and approachable atmosphere.
First established in 2010 in a tucked away restaurant space on Jackson Street, Claudio’s now takes up residence on James Street North in the former home of casual-fine dining spot Acclamation.
With a sleek, modern new look and a tempting menu of high-end dishes, Claudio’s has only been open in its new location for a handful of months; but they’re already a hot spot for Italian fine dining.
Pizzas are made with a San Marzano tomato sauce base, pastas are accented by scallops or slow-braised lamb, and the small-but-mighty menu of entrees sees thoughtful preparations of octopus, Cornish hen, and veal scallopini. Claudio’s is an ideal choice for a special occasion or romantic night out.
Gabrielle Gwyn-Neumann’s spacious James North dining room radiates with lived-in, old-world charm while serving some standout Italian cuisine to boot.
Martello’s modern approach to its menu features appetizers and snacks like suppli, fried artichokes, and stracciatella that lead into pasta dishes like Carbonara and Papardelle al Ragu, or wood-fired pizza creations like a classic Margherita or a Cacio e Pepe inspired pie.
Weekend brunch, well-curated wine selections, delicious baked goods, and an all-around relaxed vibe seal the deal in making Martello such a popular spot along the James North strip.
Now with two separate locations in Hamilton – one on Ottawa Street, the other on James North – Caro does modern Italian cuisine extremely well, balancing quality ingredients and chef-driven recipes with generous portions and chic-yet-approachable vibes.
The restaurant’s Neapolitan pizzas are an underrated gem, with standard pies like Margherita and Pepperoni matched with more unique ones like The Omar, topped with fried chicken, Carolina barbecue sauce, Old Bay corn, and three different cheeses.
Pasta dishes like a heaping plate of chicken parmigiana or butternut squash ravioli are beyond satisfying, and classic Italian desserts like gelato, cannoli, and tiramisu are worth saving room for. For Italian cuisine that’s elevated yet accessible, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option in town than Caro.
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