The 10 Best Italian Restaurants In Budapest

Everybody loves Italian food and Hungarians are no exception. In Budapest, you'll find everything from Naples-style pizzerias to elaborate northern-Italian restaurants, but most places don't specialize in any particular region, instead putting out reliable, mid-range, pan-Italian fare along the lines of Caprese salad, pasta carbonara, and good old tiramisu.

#1 Trattoria Pomo D'Oro

Opened in 2002, Trattoria Pomo D'Oro is a popular Italian restaurant in Budapest's downtown marrying a red-sauce, old-school Italian trattoria with a modern establishment. This means the place draws everyone from middle-class Hungarian families looking for Italian comfort food to office workers and tourists. As a result, the ever-expanding space, which has managed to retain a cozy vibe, is packed to capacity with a mixed crowd every day of the week. While not cheap by Budapest standards — mains are €15-20 — price points aren't outrageous for the quality.

#2 Ristorante Krizia

Opened in 1997 by owner-chef Graziano Cattaneo, a native from Lombardy, Krizia comes closest in Budapest to offering a true-to-Italy ristorante experience. The place is located inside an elegant below-ground space on a quiet street in Budapest's District 6, near the city center. The snug restaurant has less than a dozen tables — all of them covered in white linen — and adorably ceremonial servers, especially the older of the two long-time waiters.

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#3 Tom George Budapest

Tom George is a chic Italian restaurant on a tourist-heavy downtown street in Budapest. The highlight of the spacious restaurant is the outdoor terrace — heated and covered in the colder months — that's perfect for people watching. The reliably made pan-Italian dishes include everything from salads to pastas to wood-oven pizzas to steaks and range in price from €15 to €25. Those with a sweet tooth should not miss the seasonal desserts, which might include torta della nonna, a custardy Tuscan treat, or a classic millefoglie. There's a long wine list of both Italian and Hungarian bottles.

#4 Fausto’s Ristorante

Fausto’s Ristorante, which opened in 1994, is a classic fine dining restaurant in Budapest with a hat-tip to northern Italian fare. Forget pizza and Caprese salad; here scallops, foie gras, flatfish, and venison loin are the gastronomic currency. A couple of egg pasta and risotto are also available, made with deliciously rich sauces. The decor is traditional fine dining: soft background music drifts from the background of the dim dining room, which has only a dozen tables, all set with heavy linen tablecloths.

#5 Alessio Restaurant

If you like Italian food and would like a break from the bustle of the city center, head over to Alessio. With densely carpeted floors and crammed tables, this charming neighborhood restaurant is tailored to the local residents of this elite Buda neighborhood. Little about the interior will evoke the Tuscan countryside, but the dishes can hold their own. Alessio’s claim to fame, the garlic shrimp, is actually a Spanish classic (gambas al ajillo), arriving in a sizzling sauce of olive oil, chili, and garlic. It's impossible to stop eating (use the bread to mop up the rich leftover sauce to the last drop).

#6 Al Dente

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 to yourself. This osteria-type casual eatery within Budapest's charming Palace Quarter serves pan-Italian classics. The ever-changing daily meat, seafood, and vegetarian pastas are cooked simply and well. The pizzas lean Naples style, and you can round out a meal with homemade tiramisu, panna cotta, or cannoli. If you need to wait for a table, grab a drink at Lumen, one of my favorite Budapest bars two minutes from here on Horánszky Street.

#7 Il Terzo Cerchio

Il Terzo Cerchio is a reliable mid-range Italian restaurant in Budapest’s historic Jewish Quarter. A brick vaulted ceiling, rustic wooden furniture, and a 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 where gluttons were punished).

#8 2 Spaghi Pasta Bar

Run by three Italian natives, 2 Spaghi is a small pasta shop in Budapest with an endearingly simple mission: serve fresh, made-to-order pasta dishes quickly and well. You're invited to pair a variety of pasta shapes (fusilli, bucatini, tagliatelle, etc.) with a rotating set of sauces. On any day, there might be cacio e pepe, carbonara, puttanesca, amatriciana, and aglio, olio e peperoncino listed on the blackboard.

#9 Da Mario Budapest

Da Mario is a pricey modern Italian restaurant in Budapest, set on a precious piece of downtown real estate between the Hungarian Parliament building and Liberty Square, with views onto both from its outdoor terrace. Instead of a trattoria vibe, the polished, high-ceilinged space features sleek leather banquettes and dark furnishings. Being within the city's financial and government district, business meals here are more typical than date nights.

#10 Porcellino Grasso Ristorante

Porcellino Grasso is a popular Italian neighborhood restaurant on Rózsadomb, an exclusive residential enclave on the Buda side of Budapest. Accordingly, grand, secluded villas line the streets near the restaurant. Porcellino serves reliable Italian comfort food, but few are the truly memorable dishes so it's fitting that most patrons are local residents and office workers.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. To remain unbiased, I visit all places incognito and pay for my own meals and drinks. I also never accept money in exchange for coverage. But this means I must rely on readers to support my work. If you've enjoyed this article, please consider making a one-time payment (PayPal) or becoming an Offbeat Patron.