Little Italy

Best Restaurants in Ottawa – Little Italy

To innaugurate our first year in business we are publishing a series of articles called "Best Restaurants in Ottawa." Throughout this series we look at the best restaurants in 7 neighborhoods of the Nation's Capital.


Old Hull

Little Italy

By-Ward Market


Somerset Village

Sens Mile

The Glebe

You can discover them all first hand on these tours

Little Italy

Ottawa's Italian Quarter is a prime spot for going out for a nice dinner. Some would say it is the area of the city with the best restaurants. At the very least, it is recognized for having a very high concentration of quality restaurants. Here you will find excellent Italian restaurants (of course!), but also quality French, Greek, and more eclectic spots. That is not counting the quality watering holes, the always appreciated restaurants that source their products locally, and Ottawa's only molecular cuisine.

In fact, Ottawa's only molecular cuisine restaurant is considered by many to be Ottawa's best, and has received many awards. Add this to the multiple other awards won by other restaurants and you have a prime dinning spot. Needless to say, going out on Preston is worth the travel.

Here are 6 places that need to be visited. All of them are in the Experience Food Tours.

Restaurants are in no particular order.

Best restaurants in Little Italy


540 Rochester street, Ottawa

Located in what looks like an abandonned building, without a sign and only a civic number, this restaurant has made a name for itself by simply creating amazing food. Marc Lepine, owner and Chef de cuisine at Atelier is Ottawa's only Chef that serves molecular cuisine. Here your palate will be confronted to all sorts of flavours you may not know, but will be happy to discover.

Awards won by Chef Lepine and his restaurant include two "Ottawa Chef of the Year" and he was recently nammed Canadian Culinary Champion. This is on top of his multiple Golden Plates and other distinctions. Atelier was also recently named one of Canada's top 100 restaurants and continues to impress everyone it serves.

When going to Atelier, you will be served a 12 course tasting menu complete with impeccable wine pairing. Each course is carefully crafted by Chef Lepine, and each wine paired by Steve Robinson, their sommelier. A night out at Atelier is more than just a meal, it's an experience. And while the prices might seem high, those who have been have routinely said that it is well worth it.

Best Restaurants in Ottawa - Little Italy

Atelier restaurant
Atelier Food


362 Preston street, Ottawa 

Right in the middle of Little Italy in one of Ottawa's most enduring and well-known restaurants. For over 30 years, Giovanni's has been bringing fine italian cuisine to Ottawa. Using fresh and authentic ingredients, it has garned a reputation as a destination for not only Italians in Ottawa, but everyone, including celebrities from all over. 

Their attention to detail is reflected in all aspects of their product. From the fresh pressed linen, to the free valet service, to the attentive service, to the food, this is one of few Ottawa restaurants that treats dinning as an event, entertainment. In the plates, guests are welcomed with traditionnal Italian cuisine. In fact, Giovanni's has not attempted to follow trends or set them. They aim to respect the rich history of Italian food. This means that the dishes they served are delicate, which is different than the bold flavours served in other top restaurants. This is the result of an exceptional respect their chefs seem to have for the ingredients used and their ability to make their natural flavours shine.

If you plan on dinning at Giovanni's, be sure to reserve your seat ahead of time and dress up. Take advantage of the valet parking offered in this sometimes crowded area and really go out!

Best Restaurants in Ottawa - Little Italy


276 Preston street, Ottawa

There seems to be a theme developing in Preston street restaurants. Restauranteurs in that area want you to have an experience. To them, dinning doesn't seem to be something you do before going out, it is going out. This is precisely the case with MeNa, a blind tasting 3 to 12 course menu restaurant, where each dish is more creative than the last.

MeNa was in the running for the top 10 best new restaurants in Canada list in 2014 and has been serving their guests to satisfaction since. You can't be afraid to try new things when you go to this restaurant, however. They will accomodate for allergies, but the chef's creations need to be honored for the art that it is. Mostly of french inspiration, MeNa will served bold and delicate flavours with presentations that defy gravity. All paired with great canadian wines, most not available in stores, this is a experience any foodie must have.

Make you reservation today, or explore it on Experience Food Tours, since this small restaurant books long in advance.


Best Restaurants in Ottawa - Little Italy

Mena scallops
Divino Wine Studio

DiVino Wine Studio

225 Preston street, Ottawa 

The idea of a wine studio (or wine bar) isn't that original in itself. Outside of Ottawa, many places have taken the concept and turned into their own things. Simply calling DiVino a wine bar wouldn't do it justice, however. Owner Eric and his staff have taken the concept and pushed it to new lenghts offering great modern italian cuisine and great wine pairings. This is perhaps why it is a "studio" and not a "bar." In fact, wine is only one of the things they do well.

The food at DiVino is Italian and quite authentic. It is, however, quite different than the classical Italian food served at other Italian restaurants in Little Italy. The work put in by the kitchen of this restaurant incorporates new ingredients to old recipes, or uses classical ingredients in new ways, reflecting the creativity of the chefs. Here the food is always flavourful and the service on par.

What makes DiVino's truly original is its laidback atmosphere and its "at home" layout. We're not sure if you dine in the kitchen, or if the chefs cook in the dining room, but the layout creates an interesting experience. Especially the tall island in the middle of the restaurant that allows you to look at the chefs at work.

Best Restaurants in Ottawa - Little Italy


345 Preston street, Ottawa

Like some other restaurants on this list, Salt is a destination. It is a glamorous restaurant filled with large chairs and tables, velvet and chandeliers. It is a place for which you dress up and go to be seen. On top of that, it has excellent food.

Salt has the distinction of being one of the only restaurants (maybe the only) in Little Italy that aims to use locally produced ingredients in it's dishes with consistency. Being in Canada, this can be difficult, but they seem to do it with more ease than most. These locally sourced products provide impressive freshness. Combine this with Chef Ryan Edwards' skills and you have a very satisfying dinning experience. On top of that, Salt offers a wide range of different cocktails prepared by skilled bartenders. The result is a night filled with cocktails, great food, and (sometimes) live music.

Best Restaurants in Ottawa - Little Italy

Salt Cocktail

Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana Ltd

200 Preston street, Ottawa 

Really good dessert places are quite rare. Some bakeries make good cakes. Some shops have a small selection of delicious treats. Few have the selection and the flavours offered by Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana Ltd. This is precisely why this shop has won so many awards and why it is recognized in Little Italy as the place to go for desserts.

At Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana Ltd. they specialize in Italian sweets, like their made in-house gelato. Yumminess guaranteed! And while this is the expertise, they don't shy away from producing very high quality french desserts on top of more local delicacies. You can eat-in or take out from this non-pretentious, dessert filled space.

Our recommendation is to take your time and eat-in. Have some gelato or a tiramisu, with a cup of espresso or have them suggest a liqueur for you. You will see that while this destination doesn't have the glamour of the other restaurants on the list, their desserts are worth the stop.

Best Restaurants in Ottawa - Little Italy

Honorable Mentions

EVOO Greek Kitchen

438 Preston street, Ottawa

Great little spot for Greek food. Affordable, non-pretentious, and very tasty.



The moonroom

The Moonroom

442 Preston street, Ottawa

Great cocktails and ambiance. A good place to go with friends or on a date.



Black cat bistro

Black Cat Bistro

428 Preston street, Ottawa

Little french bistro that is very attentive to their guests and provides a satisfying experience.



Discover 4 of these great places on the same night with Experience Food

All Experience Food Hull tours are organized to allow you to discover 4 of the great restaurants listed here in one evening. Join us for a Tasting Tour where you will get to eat a small plate and have a paired drink at each place, come for the Wine Pairing Tour where sommeliers at each restaurant will explain food an wine (and beer) pairing for you, or participate in the Gourmet Tours where you will have a 4 course meal with each course served in a different restaurant. Then, you will discover the quality of Old Hull dinning. On top of that you will get to meet the Chefs, Owners, or Sommeliers that make these places great and receive a historic tour of the neighbourhood on top of that. Book your tour now.

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