Everybody loves Italian food and Hungarians are no exception. The options in Budapest include everything from classic Neapolitan-style pizzas to elaborate northern-Italian dishes. Most restaurants, however, specialize in reliable, mid-range, pan-Italian classics along the lines of Caprese salad, pasta carbonara, saltimbocca, and tiramisu.
Pomo D'Oro, which opened in 2002, is a well-known and beloved Italian restaurant in Budapest's Downtown. Pomo D'Oro isn't easy to categorize: it marries a red-sauce, old school Italian trattoria and a modern restaurant with gastronomic ambitions. .
Opened in 1997, Ristorante Krizia is an iconic Italian restaurant in Budapest. Owner-chef Graziano Cattaneo hails from the Lombardy region, which means that the menu features fish- and meat-heavy, northern-Italian dishes aside from the more typical pasta-based offerings. For example, Krizia is the only restaurant in Budapest where you can have a filet mignon paired with porcini mushrooms and a side of creamy polenta that's infused with a stracchino cheese (€22). It's as delicious as it sounds.
TG Italiano (Tom George) is an upper-middle priced Italian restaurant situated on a tourist-heavy downtown street in Budapest. Thanks to its central location and reliable dishes, TG is a favorite of tourists and local businessmen. The restaurant features a chic, spacious interior which comes complete with an outdoor terrace that's heated and covered in the colder months and is perfect for people watching..
Fausto’s Ristorante, which opened in 1994, is a classic fine dining restaurant in Budapest that pays respect to northern Italian cuisine. Instead of a Caprese salad- and pizza-dominated menu, they serve meticulously plated dishes made from a host of expensive ingredients like scallops, flatfish, and venison loin. For those looking for simpler Italian fare, a couple of pasta options are also available: tagliatelle and risotto plates with rich, heavy sauces. .
Never mind the black-and-white photos of Italy on the walls, little of Alessio’s interior will remind you of an Italian restaurant. Instead, the densely carpeted space with crammed tables and white linen tablecloths feels more like a charming neighborhood joint tailored to the tastes of the local middle- and upper-class residents of this elite Buda neighborhood. If you feel like you need a break from the bustle of the city center, Alessio is a perfect hideaway, offering excellent food and a cozy atmosphere. .
Ristorante Millennium da Pippo is a reliable Italian restaurant located on the elite Andrássy Avenue, Budapest’s most famous street that’s often compared to the Champs-Élysées. The restaurant is on the section farther from the city center, away from the noisy downtown. The place's interior pulls inspiration from the century-old subway stations located underneath Andrássy (not that patrons need much of a reminder: on the outdoor terrace they can actually feel the ground slightly shake every time a train passes). .
Al Dente is one of those under-the-radar neighborhood restaurants in Budapest you hope others won't find out about so as to keep it all for yourself. It's an osteria-type casual eatery that serves Italian classics and regional specialties from Puglia (the chef is from Bari, the capital city of Puglia in southern Italy; you will note the Italian chatter wafting from the open kitchen through the dining room, which is always a good sign for an Italian restaurant). Al Dente is located in a charming and quiet side street flanked by high-ceilinged, pre-war buildings in Budapest's Palace Quarter..
Run by three Italians, 2 Spaghi is a small pasta shop with a simple mission: prepare fresh, made-to-order pasta plates quickly and well. Customers are invited to pair a variety pasta shapes (fusilli, bucatini, tagliatelle, etc.) with an often-changing list of popular sauces and toppings. On any day, 2 Spaghi might list cacio e pepe, carbonara, puttanesca, amatriciana, and aglio, olio e peperoncino sauces on its blackboard. The good news is that you can't go wrong with any of them.
A restaurant located on Budapest’s car-saturated Grand Boulevard may not be your dream dinner venue, but Trattoria Venezia serves outstanding Italian dishes at somewhat lower prices than places in downtown. I've found that the seafood-based dishes - not the strongest suit of landlocked Hungary - are especially good here. .
Da Mario is an Italian restaurant in Budapest's downtown, set on a precious piece of real estate in-between the Hungarian Parliament Building and Liberty Square, with views onto both from its outdoor terrace. Instead of a trattoria-look, the high-ceilinged space features sleek leather banquettes and an industrial-chic decor. Da Mario’s extensive menu includes Italian staples from North to South, from grilled meats to wood-oven pizzas, from pasta carbonara to risotto. .
Il Terzo Cerchio has been serving Italian comfort food in Budapest’s historic Jewish Quarter for well over a decade. A brick vaulted ceiling, rustic wooden furniture, and an oversized wood-burning oven help evoke Tuscan countryside vibes on this Budapest side street. The restaurant's moniker is a reference to Dante's third circle of hell, which is where gluttons were punished. .
I can’t blame you if your first instinct is to avoid all restaurants lining Váci Street, Budapest’s version of La Rambla. When hostesses, dressed in folk outfits, try to lure unsuspecting tourists with "traditional Hungarian tourist menus," the correct reaction is to move on swiftly. La Botte is somewhat of an exception. Only somewhat, because parts of the restaurant mimic the neighboring places: goulash soup tops the menu, and the interior, featuring red-and-white checkered tablecloths and rustic wooden banquettes, is an uninspired attempt to recreate a Hungarian countryside ambiance..
Porcellino Grasso is a popular Italian restaurant on Rózsadomb (Rose Hill), the most exclusive neighborhood on the Buda side of Budapest, if not the whole city. Accordingly, grand, secluded villas line the streets that surround the restaurant. Porcellino serves a range of reliable, pan-Italian dishes, but I’m hard-pressed to single out an unforgettable plate that’s worth crossing the Danube from Pest. So it’s fitting that most patrons are local residents at this spacious, two-floor restaurant, boasting a sizeable outdoor patio and even a private playground for small children..
As soon as you enter, Caffe Gian Mario will conjure images of a stereotypical, family-owned Italian restaurant. A charming man in his 70s, wearing a finely cut wool jacket and a smile on his face that hints of a life well lived, is usually in charge of greeting and seating guests. The service staff, most of whom are also Italian, scurry around and shout half-uttered words to one another over the cramped tables. But despite the seeming chaos, food arrives quickly at Caffe Gian Mario.
Despite what TripAdvisor might tell you, there are plenty of Italian restaurants in Budapest that serve tastier food at lower price points than Bottega di Bontolo. Unfortunately, too many dishes fall short at this downtown restaurant located on a side street off the highly-touristed Váci Street..