Bar Pasta is a pasta bar, but it’s also an excellent play on the Danish language. When you say “bar pasta” out loud, it sounds to Danes as if you’re saying “bare pasta”, which means “it’s just pasta.” And that is basically the philosophy of the place—it’s just pasta, made by some seriously skilled Italians, no big deal.
The place itself is just below ground-level, on a street corner that always gets the sun. The colours are popping, the decor quirky, the vibes informal and friendly and the pasta melt-in-the-mouth delicious. They make an excellent negroni, too!
Cicchetti means “small dishes”, traditionally served at bars in Venice to accompany a glass of wine. It’s the Venetian answer to tapas, and here in Copenhagen we’re treated to Nina and Rikke’s version of it, paired with Italian wine and, more often than not, a spritz or three.
The menu does not follow the usual starter, main course, dessert format. Instead it’s divided into Frittura (fried dishes), Formaggio (cheese), Salumi (cured meats), Crostino (savoury bites), Verdure (vegetables), Pesce (seafood), Carne (meat) and Dolce (sweets)—all of them small! Order however many you desire. If you begin with one or two, and develop a larger appetite later on, no problem. That’s what’s supposed to happen. As the Italians say, “l'appetito vien mangiando”—the appetite comes with eating. And drinking. And being waited on by the wonderful women at Cicchetti. It’s not a place you’ll be leaving in a hurry.
Yet another great name (I have a penchant for well-named restaurants), ‘Italo Disco’ is a music genre from the late 70s and 80s that is, well, Italian. It’s poppy and fun, and so is this restaurant. You’ll find it hidden away on the street in Vesterbro that no one dares to pronounce (Oehlenschlægersgade).
The menu changes daily and includes 6 antipasti dishes, usually a pasta or two and dessert, costing 450 kr. per head. Or there’s the weekend lunch menu for 275 kr. On Sunday, they clear out the fridges and serve pasta and a glass of wine for a mere 175 kr.
It seems that half the chefs in Copenhagen, especially those who move in Italian circles or have opened restaurants mentioned here, have at some point worked at FAMO. It’s a true institution of the Copenhagen food scene. But FAMO is also an excellent restaurant in its own right—three restaurants in fact.
Their first restaurant on Saxogade is undoubtedly the hyggeligste, giving you the feeling that you’ve just stumbled into an old Italian bar as you step through the door, but the other two restaurants offer similar feels. The menus change frequently, but you can always be sure of antipasti, primi (homemade pasta or risotto) a meat course and a couple of desserts. Their third restaurant, “Carne”, isn’t meat-focussed as you might expect, but “carne” is used to refer to the meat of an aubergine. Vegetarians welcome!
Øster Søgade 114
Rufino is an Italian osteria tucked in to a cosy corner of Christianshavn. The menu is small—written on a blackboard—and you can order starters, pasta, main dishes, dessert, or everything! Many dishes are inspired by Roman classics, using seasonal ingredients. Wines come from all over Italy, and in fact a big part of Rufino is the wine knowledge and the cellar full of bottles, as the restaurant was opened by sommelier Alberto Sala and chefs, Alessandro Ciofani and Paolo Bonelli.
If there’s an “it spot” on this list, it’s Mangia. A restaurant and bar full of celebrities and the kind of people who sometimes wear sunglasses indoors, where hip music plays and Apérol is everywhere, but also where the food is excellent. They do a wonderful array of antipasti, shellfish dishes and pasta. In fact, some of the best pasta I’ve ever eaten was here: the most delicious plin pasta filled with roast meat (rabbit, pork and beef) doused in gravy.
Ps. Don’t let the hipness put you off. All are welcome, sunglasses on or off!
Enomania is an Italian restaurant and wine boutique that you can barely ever get a table at because the regulars usually get there first. The owner, Damiano Alberti, is just as much a draw as the food and the extensive wine menu. He’s at the restaurant every day, working the floor, greeting regulars who have become old friends, and pouring his beloved wines into guests’ glasses with a flourish. You can’t help but feel entirely relaxed and wonderfully spoilt in his presence.
The menu is never the same, but I particularly recommend sampling some of the olive oil (like you’ve never before tasted) and whichever risotto is on the menu—Enomania is particularly famed for its risotto.
Il Buco was something of a happy accident. It started out as a storage space—“an old cave nobody else wanted”—for Christer Bredgaard’s Italian wine and charcuterie import business. One thing led to another, he invited friends and friends of friends over for casual dinners, which became a weekly neighbourhood supper club, then added a café, a bakery and eventually a full-time restaurant.
Here, you’ll find some of the city’s best homemade bread, pastries and pasta, various Italian-inspired breakfast and lunch dishes, a range of delicious Italian wine and an incredible Tiramisù, amongst other things. Oh, and if you visit in the summer, make sure to take advantage of the large courtyard!
Vesterbro’s original antipasti restaurant, Osteria 16, was the first to really nail the one-menu-fits-all, many-small-dishes, barely-any-space-between-the-tables model that we now see all over the city, and they’re still going strong—now with a second osteria in Nørrebro, a pizzeria and a spaghetteria as part of the Osteria 16 empire.
Here you’ll find shellfish, pasta, fresh cheese, funghi, charcuterie, vegetables, leaves—all depending on the season and the produce available—and plenty of focaccia bread and olive oil for dipping. You don’t get to choose though; just sit back and enjoy your 8 antipasti for 265 kr., and throw in a few Apérol Spritz whilst you’re at it. Cin cin!
You can’t eat your way around Italy without a gelato to finish it all off. There’s plenty of excellent ice cream to go around in Copenhagen but undoubtedly the most Italian of all is Siciliansk Is (literally, Sicilian Ice Cream). Opened by David René Ciccia and Michael Søndergaard, the shop serves scoops of all the Italian classics, and some Danish favourites such as licorice, blueberry and salted caramel. Visit their Vesterbro, Nørrebro or Christianshavn location.
N.B. Closed in winter.
Christianshavns Kanal 2