Sri Lanka's got a surprisingly large amount of Italian influence. With a large section of our diaspora (some 30,000-50,000) living in Italy, there are a lot of returnees with culinary know-how. We've also got a fairly healthy number of Italians living on our sunny shores too, making for a thriving restaurant scene. Here are a few of Colombo's top Italian restaurants, serving up everything from pizza to panna cotta.
Giovanni’s is our our go-to spot for wood-fired pizzas. It's pretty much a one-man show, with Dimuthu making pizzas in a clay oven right there next to your table. There's a small bistro kind of feel to the place and the pizzas tasted amazing on our visit. Their delivery service is a bit slow but worth the wait. Try the Salvage if you're really craving meat!
Bayleaf on Gregory's Road is one of the better restaurants in Colombo, and it's earned its reputation as a Colombo staple over years of good service. While it might be pricey, the food has always been good. They're an Italian restaurant that serves Harpo's pizza as well. It's a great place to meet up with friends or host a little private dinner.
Located at the very front of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Echo is one of Colombo's staple Italian restaurants. For a fairly posh restaurant, its prices are reasonable and service is generally great. Their lunch menu is definitely worth a try. Make sure you get a reservation, they're usually pretty full.
Dolce Italia is a simple, charming Italian restaurant and bakery on a busy square on Havelock Road. It's run by a few Italians, and is surprisingly affordable. They now have Italian favourites like pasta and ravioli for grabs, and these authentic dishes get two thumbs up from us.
In the latter half of 2013, Santoré was the newest Italian restaurant to join the fray. They've got high quality ingredients, authentic cuisine and a great location at the Tennis Association. They've also got a very comprehensive list of Italian pizzas (fit for sharing between 2-3) priced between Rs. 1350 - Rs. 2000 and pastas between Rs. 850 - Rs. 1300.
Pranzo is the Italian restaurant at Waters Edge, and has both indoor and outdoor seating, with pizzas, pastas, lasagna and even grilled meats on offer, and an amazing view. They do have a Sritalian section of their menu with Sri Lankanized options for the discerning palette, which make for some interesting fusion dining.
Il Ponte at Hilton is one of the older Italian restaurants in Colombo. It may not be as popular as it was back in the day, but their food is still pretty solid all-round. It is pretty pricey though, so watch what you're ordering. We'd recommend the pizza for value for money.
We find Scarlet Room's food to be surprisingly affordable. It isn't really the most authentic Italian restaurant in the city, but it makes for a hassle free, semi-fine dining experience.
The Park Street Trattoria pairs a lovely ambience on the vibrant Park Street strip with enthusiastic service and a strong menu. Their actual execution is a wild hit or miss depending on whether their Italian chef is in town though, so be careful.
There are quite a few other Italian restaurants in the city and other holiday destinations on the island like Negombo and Galle too, if you're looking for more options!
One of the best gelaterias in the country, Isle of Gelato has outlet in Food Studio.
Here's a round-up of Colombo's buffets with what they do best.
Rocco's newest outlet down Gregory's Road.
Cafe Hideout is the new cafe that has taken up residence at the previous Hansa Coffee (later, The Blue Swan) premises.
Countries that let you in without a fuss with your Lankan passport