Italian migration is woven into the fabric of Australia’s history, with Werribee home to a thriving Italian community since the 1920s.
One of the best ways to explore Werribee and its Italian heritage is through food. Enjoy culinary delights curated from old-world Italian kitchens combined with contemporary Melbourne influences at these top Italian restaurants, cafes and delis.
Produced by TOT: HOT OR NOT in partnership with Visit Werribee and Surrounds.
Italian roots with Melbourne flair
Meaning ‘touch’ in Italian, Tocca gives its guests the chance to sample the finest classics of Italian cuisine in a setting that brings city vibes to Werribee. The team’s impressive experience includes working at renowned Italian restaurant Grossi Florentino in Melbourne CBD, as well as owning Carsello restaurant in Moonee Ponds and Hugo Dining in Essendon.
On the menu, crowd favourites include their pillowy gnocchi zucca and spinaci (a twist on the recipe from one of the restaurant owner’s Nonna), hand-cut pappardelle ragu with slow-cooked osso bucco, and bubbly woodfired pizzas.
Save room for their knockout tiramisu!
Get a bird’s eye view
Head up to the eighth floor of the Holiday Inn Werribee to the Rosana Bistro & Bar, named after the nearby Victoria State Rose Garden. Sip on Rosana’s signature cocktail ‘A Rose By Any Other Name’ and admire the stunning Werribee Water Tank Art by Melbourne artist Hayden Dewar.
The huge mural depicts men at work in the market gardens of Werribee. Many of those men were Italian, and the artwork honours their hard work, resilience and contribution to the development of Werribee and Victoria.
Cannoli and other treats
The Little Deli & Panini Bar is family-owned and operated by Werribee residents and second-generation Italian immigrants Alana Santamaria, her husband and sister-in-law.
They are renowned for their fresh made-to-order paninis, signature grazing boxes bursting with cold meats, cheeses, crackers, dips and seasonal fruits, and the freshly piped cannoli made with a closely-guarded cannoli shell recipe.
If you’re after an easy and delicious take-home meal, their fridge is stocked with homemade lasagnes, arancini and other classic Italian dishes.
Italian heritage for four generations
Overlooking Wedge Street Piazza is the funky cafe Wolf on Watton. The location has been owned by the Salvalaggio and Trovarelli families for four generations.
Nathan Salvalaggio’s great grandfather immigrated from Abruzzo, Italy to Werribee in 1945 and his family have long-held roots in the area. The site was originally a fruit and veggie shop that passed down to Nathan’s Nonna and her sisters. They changed the business into The Trovarelli House, an Italian-style milk bar and coffee shop serving coffee and gelato.
Nathan and his father Oriano partnered to create Wolf of Watton in 2019 to bring inner-city cafe culture to Werribee. The Modern Australian menu is seasonally inspired using market fresh, local produce and the bar offers a range of craft beers, signature cocktails, and local and international wines.
Just like Nonna’s
Behind a sunny yellow facade, discover Bellissima Italian Pantry’s delicious collection of take-home dishes created with family recipes passed down through generations.
Try their fresh egg pastas, traditional hand-stretched pizzas, biscotti and freshly piped cannoli, all made with local Victorian produce and authentic ingredients from Italy.
They also stock pantry staples such as dry pasta, salami and flour, along with Italian drinks so that you can create food from Nonna’s kitchen with your own family.