Where to eat Italian food in Berlin? Neapolitan pizza has taken the city by storm in the past few years, but from Tuscan steak to fresh pasta, neighbourhood trattorias to cooler-than-thou wine bars, there’s a universe of possibilities even before you get to cheesy, saucy crusts. Here are a few of our favourites.
Stamp of approval: Briefmarken Weine
In a high-ceilinged former stamp collector’s shop on Stalinist Karl-Marx-Allee, Nicola Sessa and Alessandro Vespasiano have created a little candlelit paradise of Italian wine and toothsome delicacies. The bottles are poetically categorised into four elements based on the wines’ personalities: classical, noble “earth” wines, strong, spirited “fire” ones, lighter “air” bottles. Pair them with the meatiest olives this side of Emilia Romagna, crumbly Grana Padano, milk-white lardo or nutty, juicy Parma ham, followed by homemade ravioli or linguine with Campanian anchovy oil.
- Briefmarken Weine Karl-Marx-Allee 99, daily 17–24, www.briefmarkenweine.de
Sicilian breakfast: Caffetteria Cicala
Eating breakfast at Cicala feels a little like being in southern Italy, probably because Kottbusser Damm is so noisy and the ricotta croissant is so delicious. If you like your morning meal short but sweet, as the Italians do, this tiny café is the place for you: Choose between flaky cornettos, crispy pistachio-filled sfogliatelle or other traditional Sicilian pasticcini, washed down with a short, strong espresso. It’s not a place to linger, but one worth returning to, again and again.
- Caffetteria Cicala Kottbusser Damm 1, Kreuzberg, Mon–Fri 7:00–19:00, Sat 7.30–19:00, Sun 9:00–19:00, www.caffetteriacicala.com
Next-gen Neapolitan: Capvin
In an overcrowded scene, Capvin stands out thanks to the cloudlike crust perfected by third-generation pizzaiolo Vincenzo Capuano. The Naples native, already a star in his home country, lent his name, recipes and personal flour stash to this Berlin outpost. Watching the waitstaff cut up your pizza with Capuano’s signature golden scissors will be very unsettling if you’ve seen Jordan Peele’s Us, but that soft, puffy dough will put you squarely back in the comfort zone. These beauties are baked at 370 degrees, almost 100 degrees less than traditional Neapolitan pizza, and therefore twice as long: two whole minutes. The menu includes classics – Margherita, Napoli, Tartufo – and original creations, such as meatballs or a ricotta-filled crust. Pair your pie with one or two of today’s most popular natural wines.
- Capvin Weinbergsweg 24, Mitte, daily 12:00–23:00, www.capvin.de
Classic cucina: Francucci
Pizza came to Berlin in 1962 with the Francucci family, and with it, hospitality without compromise. At Francucci you see people from all walks of life: old West Berliners, rappers, footballers, families, suits. They come for the fresh-baked bread, the delicious ravioli, the legendary pizza and the Bistecca Fiorentina served on the bone – visit the wine cellar and you’ll see the Tuscan beef dry-ageing next to its future pairing. End your meal by tasting your way through Berlin’s largest selection of Italian amaros, from the Alps to the country’s southern tip.
- Francucci Kurfürstendamm 90, Charlottenburg, Mon–Sat 12–22, Sun 16–22, www.francucci.com
Hidden gem: Hostaria del Monte Croce
In an enchanting, leafy backyard, diners sit down every evening at 7pm for the meal of the month, seven courses plus wine, water, coffee and a digestivo for a total of €69. Expect a proper feast of shared antipasti plates, hearty pasta dishes and rustic mains – vegetarian options are available, but vegans should probably skip this one.
- Hostaria del Monte Croce Mittenwalder Str. 6, Kreuzberg, Tue–Sat 19–24, www.hostaria.de
Western dolce vita: Il Calice
The selection of fine, hand-crafted, natural wines, the careful contemporary updates to authentic dishes, the precision of finding and selecting the perfect raw ingredients, the lovingly tended ambience – there are few restaurants in the city that embody all these qualities so harmoniously as Antonio Bragato’s Il Calice. Even more dreamy than his pastas are the antipasti creations like wafer-thin slices of lardo di Colonnata resting on Parmesan chunks, so intense you’d think an entire pig had been condensed into one bite. The front of the place has been redesigned as a wine bar, the better for you to sample the wealth of open vintages. In summer, though, the best place to sit is outside on Walter-Benjamin-Platz, a Lambrusco in your hand and a “Superdegustazione” platter on your table.
- Il Calice Walter-Benjamin-Platz 4, Charlottenburg, daily 12–23, www.enoiteca-il-calice.de
Pasta and chill: La Bolognina
Run by Luca Spinogatti – also a DJ who goes by the name The Ivory Boy – this little Neukölln noodle shop may be laid-back, but the fresh pasta is serious stuff. Always-changing variations of tagliatelle, ravioli, gnocchi and strozzapreti, or piadina (stuffed flatbread) for smaller appetites, are accompanied by wine and a vinyl soundtrack. For the best atmosphere, go on Tuesday evenings, which are almost too well-attended.
- La Bolognina Donaustr. 107, Neukölln, Tue–Sat 17–23, www.labolognina.de
Clean eating: Lavanderia Vecchia
Hidden within a Neukölln courtyard, this legendary eatery offers some of the city’s best Italian cuisine in an oh-so-Berlin setting: a former laundry that perfectly blends industrial sleekness and rustic ambience. Even more breathtaking than the open kitchen is the food that emerges from it: daily changing five-course menus featuring fresh pasta, grilled mains and the occasional contemporary experiment. Dinner runs €49 (including water, half a bottle of wine, coffee and a digestif); those on lower budgets can treat themselves to a €20 set lunch, with a discount for Hartz IV recipients.
- Lavanderia Vecchia Flughafenstr. 46, Neukölln, Lunch: Wed–Fri 12:30–16:30, Dinner: Wed–Sun 17–23, www.lavanderiavecchia.wordpress.com
Levelled-up lasagna: Quasi Quasi
The exposed bricks and arty lighting might seem ominously bourgeois, but you won’t spend much more at this friendly Italian spot than anywhere else in Alt-Treptow’s gentrification-besieged Karl-Kunger-Kiez, and the food will be way better. Chef Giulia Terni, formerly of Caligari in Neukölln, does classic trattoria cuisine with a Berlin twist, throwing in international touches and vegan options. But there are no twists involved in her lasagna, a cult favourite since the restaurant opened in winter 2020. Browned on top and gooey in the middle, filled with zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes or wild mushrooms and a positively decadent amount of cheese, this is next-level comfort food, made even better with a €4 glass of house Montepulciano and a creative starter like just-cooked-through scallops with pea puree, lime and pickled onions. If you’re a local, you’re probably already a regular. For everyone else, it’s more than worth the Treptow field trip.
- Quasi Quasi Bouchéstr. 15, Alt-Treptow, Wed–Sat 18–22, www.quasiquasiberlin.com
Expert dough: Sironi
Not content to run Berlin’s best Italian bakery out of Markthalle IX, Milanese dough maestro Alfredo Sironi turned his attention to pizza at his second location in Schöneberg. You’ve never quite tasted crusts like these before, whether made with spelt or a unique mixture of regular flour and “Senatore Cappelli” durum wheat. They support toppings like buffalo mozzarella, aubergine or the saffron cream on the signature Sironi pie. Leave room for appetisers like friggitelli, roasted peppers with breadcrumbs and fennel, and a scoop of the homemade pistachio ice cream for dessert.
- Sironi – La Pizza Goltzstr. 36, Schöneberg, Restaurant: Mon, Wed–Fri 17–23, Sat-Sun 12–23, Café: daily 8–19, www.sironi.de
- Sironi Bakery Markthalle 9, Eisenbahnstr. 42–43, Kreuzberg, Mon–Fri 9–19, Sat 8–19
Steaks and sizzle: To The Bone
Everything about Giacomo Mannucci’s Italian steakhouse To The Bone screams glam: the dramatic emerald interior, the live jazz on Thursdays, the exquisite cocktails and above all the steaks. The dry-aged cuts of organically farmed Chianina beef come straight from Dario Cecchini, a Tuscan butcher who needs no introduction among meaterati, and are served alongside fresh pastas and creative antipasti. If you’d rather dine on snacks with just a smidgen of steak, try To The Bone’s wine-centric cousin Weinbau in Schöneberg.
- To The Bone Torstr. 96, Mitte, Sun–Thu 18–24, Fri-Sat 18–3, www.tothebone.bonita.berlin
Devil in the details: Zum Heiligen Teufel
Don’t bring your Italian nonna to this Pugliese-run newcomer. Or do. She might click her tongue at seeing her beloved melanzane alla parmigiana served like a flowerpot full of dirt, but she won’t have any qualms about the taste. She certainly won’t engage with the pair of kimchi-filled “Italian gyoza” that arrive with the plate of grilled shrimp, but turns out you don’t need either to enjoy those juicy crustaceans, perfectly cooked and draped with herbs and marinated elderflower. And specials like risotto, bursting with white and green asparagus and way more than enough black truffles, are so well-executed they’ll bring a tear to her eye. For dessert, try the fabulous panna cotta or tiramisu (which also happens to be served in a flowerpot).
- Zum Heiligen Teufel Lübbener Str. 23, Kreuzberg, Mon, Sat 18–22, Tue–Fri 12–16, 18–22, www.zumheiligenteufel.de