In the UK, Italian cuisine is no longer seen as exotic - in fact, since the boom in restaurant numbers in the 70's and 80's it has become almost commonplace. These days there are Italian restaurants in every town, and at-home versions of key classics have become a permanent part of the weekly recipe repertoire in many homes - 'spag bol' anyone?

Nevertheless, there's something that keeps drawing us back. Like a classic Sunday roast or a perfectly cooked steak, Italian food done right is one of life's greatest foodie pleasures. So, to celebrate, we've rounded up our favourite Cardiff spots where you're guaranteed a warm welcome and a plate of something probably carb-based and and doubly delicious.

Long before wood-fired pizzas became hip, Café Citta were serving up authentic Italian food from their cosy Church Street pizzeria. Marvel at the pizzaiolo in the open kitchen working his magic with the log burning oven before devouring one of Citta’s thin golden crusted pizzas. But, there’s more to Citta than just pizza - just take a look at the specials blackboard as it works its way around the dining room. Seasonal pasta and gnocchi dishes and the most indulgent of bruschettas topped with creamy mushrooms, pancetta and mozzarella are worth the visit alone. A lot of love has gone into the dessert pots too which include lemon and orange cheesecake and tiramisu. It’s notoriously difficult to get a table at Café Citta at short notice at but it’s well worth the effort of booking ahead.

Read more about Café Citta

Italo-Welsh fusion is on the cards at Porro, located in the affluent area of Llandaff, and now with a second restaurant in Roath, Cardiff. The interior of both restaurants can be described as 'mattoni e malta' meaning bricks and mortar; a rustic atmosphere that reflects the homely food that they serve. While classics such as pizza and pasta are available accompanied by imaginative sauces and toppings, the a la carte houses unique delights such as Crispy-Skinned Fillet with Aubergine Caponata, Ox-Cheek Papardell and Welsh lamb with Courgette and Pancetta. Modern takes on classic Italian Desserts such as Tira Mi Su and Panna Cotta reign supreme.

Read more about Porro

Viva la Sicilia! This authentic Italian sits proudly on Wellfield road - you can't miss the large steamy window that lights up at night by the flickering candles. Walk into this cwtchy restaurant with wooden floors and mismatched furniture and it feels more like you're about to dine in Grandma's kitchen in Palermo than the capital of Wales. It's real and rustic here; sit back, relax and sip on an Aperol spritz whilst Chef Marco cooks up your pasta or pizza right in front of your eyes.

Read more about La Vita

After beginning life as a popular pizza pop-up, the internationally acclaimed Dusty Knuckle Pizza Company eventually moved their bigger - and now permanent premises at the PrintHaus arts collective. Head to the quirky urban courtyard furnished with recycled materials and featuring an edible herb garden, complete with a pizza oven hand-built by owners, Phill Lewis and Deb Noyes. With freshly baked, pillow-soft bases, the pizzas are laden with locally sourced ingredients like Penclawdd cockles and laverbread, and pepperoni from Llanelli-based Charcutier Ltd. But it's not just pizza here - oh no. You can also expect vibrant salads, indulgent antipasti boards and decadent desserts. For liquid refreshment, wash all that down with a cold craft beer from nearby local brewery Pipes or a glass of natural wine. Delicious!

Read more about Dusty Knuckle Pizza Company

Don't just take our word for it when we say that Calabrian cooking is one of the most delicious we've tried– head to Calabrisella and discover the moreish, carby goodness for yourself! Partners Salvo, Angelo and Domenico met in high school in Italy, then moved to Cardiff to learn English. 10 years later they set up Calabrisella; a little microcosm of Calabrian cuisine set smack in the heart of Canton. Dining at Calabrisella is a truly authentic and enjoyable experience from start to finish. As you browse the menu devised by head chef Domemico, quench your thirst with an ice cold Sardinian Ichnusa beer or an Aperol and soda. It’s then all about the gargantuan thin crusted Calabrian pizzas with toppings like Fiery Nduja Sausage and Sundried Tomato (The Calabrisella) or Gorgonzola and Chicken (The Roma). If you’ve any room leftover after this (unlikely) then the oozy Risotto-Filled Arancini and the luxurious Tiramisu maintain the same mouthwateringly delicious standard as the pizza.

Read more about Calabrisella

I Giardini of Sorrento is a little slice of Italy on the hustle bustle of ultra-urban City Road. The menu here is all about comforting, hearty food; think pizzas spiked with 'nduja, and fresh twirls of pasta and sauces of real depth and flavour. Order, sit back and watch the world rush by as you relax with your food – fresh and seasonal and deceptively simple, but packed with flavour. Service is friendly and unfussy, too. Just what we like.

Read more about I Giardini di Sorrento

An Italian restaurant without a plate of spaghetti bolognese or a pepperoni pizza in sight? Well, Casanova isn’t your average. Located on Quay Street in the heart of Cardiff’s newly born Craft Brewery quarter, Casanova uses the best Welsh and Italian seasonal ingredients to make interesting regional Italian plates. With its cosy dining room and atmospheric lighting, this is the ideal place for an intimate dinner. Kick off with crispy lamb breast with smoked aubergine and panzanella before moving onto slow cooked goat ragu with red wine, tomatoes and porcinis served with casereccie pasta.

Read more about Casanova

Milkwood is the culmination of the owners' (Cerys, Tom and Gwyn) long held dream to run an independent, cosy local restaurant. Now, they run this small, friendly eatery beloved by locals and foodies alike, offering a constantly changing menu informed by excellent Welsh produce, simple but sound cooking, and a genuine love of food. Though not strictly an Italian restaurant, we wanted to include the brilliant Milkwood because their twists on Italian favourites are worth looking out for - like the homemade tagliatelle with summer truffle, or the duck breast with chicory and hazelnut, and duck tortellini.

Read more about Milkwood

Published -13th April 2018