The beating heart of West Yorkshire, Leeds is a city filled with culture, heritage and plenty of great Italian food. We love wandering through the beautifully ornate arcades lined with charming boutiques and strolling along the city’s industrial-era canal path. With so much to explore and take in, you’ll quickly work up an appetite and so we’ve compiled a guide to our favourite Italian restaurants in Leeds, including some of our go-to pasta dishes on their menus.
The 5 best Italian restaurants in Leeds
Image credit: Sarto
The only restaurant in Leeds focused purely on fresh, handmade pasta, Sarto is a pasta lover’s dream in the heart of the city centre. The passion and skill of the restaurant’s in-house pastai (pasta makers) is fascinating to observe and we wholeheartedly recommend the experience. With a constantly evolving menu, we think you’ll love whatever Sarto to offer, but some of our favourite dishes include the rigatoni with lamb ragù, as well as the pillows of gnocchi with Jerusalem artichoke and hazelnuts. The surroundings are less little Italy and more understated cool, which makes for a relaxed, informal place to sample some delicious pasta.
Image credit: Stuzzi
Tucked away above the city's Renaissance-style Grand Arcade, Stuzzi offers up a selection of Italian small plates (stuzzi is short for stuzzichini, the Italian word for small bites of food, usually served with an appetite-awakening drink). As well as street food favourites like arancini, and classic snacks like focaccia and salumi, the team at Stuzzi always leave room for a couple of authentically prepared fresh pasta dishes. The menu changes every few days, but there’s usually at least one vegetarian and meat pasta dish on offer. When we visited, we were particularly enamoured with a pitch-perfect dish of hand cut pappardelle with a deeply savoury venison ragù.
Image credit: Salvo's
Having been successfully tempting diners away from the centre of Leeds to their Headingley home for over 40 years, Salvo’s know a thing or two about quality Italian cuisine. First opened by Salvatore Dammone back in 1976, the restaurant is now being run by the second and third generations of the Dammone family. The menu features authentic antipasti, secondi and Neapolitan-style pizzas, but it’s the pasta that really caught our eye. As well as classics like carbonara and frutti di mare, the menu features lesser-known regional dishes from across Italy – the standout of which has to be the ravioli d’agnello, beautiful parcels of fresh pasta stuffed with slow-cooked lamb, mint and pecorino.
Image credit: Viva
Found slap-bang in the centre of Leeds, just 300 yards from the historic Corn Exchange shopping centre, Viva is a warm and cosy Italian eatery serving authentic pasta dishes and delicious aperitivo. As well as a delightful starter of fresh bruschetta, we loved their faithful interpretations of the classics, with options including a knockout spaghetti alla carbonara and a devilishly spicy penne all'arrabbiata.
Pasta Evangelists Leeds
We’d be doing our own pastai (pasta makers) a major disservice if we didn’t give them a shout out here. We might not have a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Leeds quite yet, but Leeds locals can still get a taste of our restaurant-quality pasta – and all without even leaving the house. We deliver our freshly cooked pasta dishes to postcodes across Leeds – arriving hot and ready to eat, they’re the perfect option for those that want fresh pasta in a flash.
Alternatively, if you’re happy to do some (very minimal) cooking yourself, we deliver our pasta recipe kits to Leeds and all around the UK. Each kit comes with everything you need to prepare an authentic pasta dish in under 5 minutes – simply cook the fresh pasta, heat up the carefully-crafted sauce and top with the included garnish. With options like slow-cooked beef shin ragú, decadent lobster tortelloni and wild mushroom pappardelle, the only hard part is choosing a dish.