I love Italy and it came as no surprise to me that I fell in love with an Italian guy. But I must admit: dating an Italian is a disaster when you love Italian food. No restaurant can beat their mom’s dishes. And the only restaurants that might have a chance, are the ones that have an Italian family in charge that talks about their food like only Italians do. Rotterdam has a bunch of Italian restaurants, so I listed the ones that I like most. I might even dare to take ‘my Italian’ there.
A Proposito – Weena 505, 3013 AL
This Italian restaurant is one of the best kept secrets in Rotterdam, mainly because it’s location: you just do not expect a good restaurant next to a central station, with bright neon-signs to scare you off. But go inside and enter the world of true Italian hospitality. This family-run restaurant serves great wines, great food and all at reasonable prices. Mom and dad work in the kitchen, son and daughter run the restaurant and cousins fly in from Italy to wait the tables. Oh and the menu is written on a chalkboard. It is best to make a reservation and it is good to know that they are only open on weekdays (mon – fri).
O’Pazzo – Mariniersweg 90, 3011 NV
The Dutch love efficiency, so when you read (Dutch) reviews on O’Pazzo you will most likely read about the bad service. It is not bad, it is just….Italian. So take your time, don’t rush or get mad and enjoy the food and the awkward interior. The restaurant is divided in two areas; one if you are having pizza’s and one for those who eat a la carte. And then there is the winebar part. But if you just want wines, you might want to go elsewhere. The food at O’Pazzo is great and that is the reason why this place is always crowded. The portions of the meals are not large, so there is no excuse: order the Italian gelato afterwards!
Lux – ’s Gravendijkwal 133, 3021 EK
This restaurant is a classic in Rotterdam. For over 25 years Lux is a gem in rough part of the city center. The little trolley salad bar has become an icon, and the design panels on walls remind you of the early days when Lux began it’s route to fame.
Nowadays chef Milan Gataric serves authentically prepared Italian food with fresh ingredients and self made pasta an bread. Order the ‘spaghetti cuore di tonno’ (with tasty dried tuna heart) or treat yourself a 7 courses tasting menu for only € 40,-!
Oliva – Witte de Withstraat 15a, 3012 BK
In one of the most popular streets of Rotterdam, Oliva has been one the best Italian restaurants for years. Their pure Italian dishes are a treat. If you like seafood, than this is the place to taste it the Italian way. The atmosphere is stylish and metropolitan, but not in an uptight way. (As if there are any of those places in Rotterdam 😉 ). Make a reservation if you want to dine here during the weekends and make sure that you are not the designated driver as the wines here are outstanding!
Sugo – Aert van Nesstraat 20,3012 CA
This new restaurant in the center of Rotterdam makes pizza’s the modern Roman way: Al taglio. That means you are not eating the pizza just for dinner, but also for lunch or as a snack. Fresh ingredients, up to 20 different toppings and a crunchy crust make Sugo the place you want to come back to. Rumour is spreading that they soon will have a license to serve wine, but even without that it is a great place to drop by after some shopping.
La Vita è Bella – Oostzeedijk Beneden 229, 3061 VT
Sicilian couple Peppe and Linda import ingredients from several small family-owned business in Italy. In Rotterdam they make the best authentic food with it. Their restaurant is a great place for lunch, but you can also buy freshly prepared meals to take home for dinner. If you are all into Italian cuisine, than you can also do workshops here or have them cater your party. If you are just here for the weekend, stop here if you are on your way from or to the park and Kralingse plas or the Arboretum.
What are your favourite Italian restaurants?
Feel free to leave your suggestions from all over the world; we’d love to visit them on our travels. Here’s one of our favourite Italian lunchrooms in London.