Enjoy a romantic evening over a plate of linguini in Ottawa’s Little Italy. Settled by Italian immigrants in the early 1900s, this neighborhood features an assortment of old, family-owned restaurants and is a celebration of Italian heritage. Visit during June, Ontario’s Italian Heritage Month, to experience the area at its most lively.
Start out at St. Anthony’s Church. Due to a curve in the street below it, the church’s copper steeple is visible from several blocks away. Established in 1913, the church has long been a meeting place for the neighborhood’s Italian community. Tour the inside to see the fresco paintings on the curved ceiling and the ornate stained-glass windows. Cross the street to Piazza Dante, which features a splash fountain where kids can play during the summer.
Head over to Preston Street for lunch or dinner. While no original restaurants remain from Little Italy’s early days, you can find many authentic eateries that have been in the neighborhood for decades. Splurge on dinner at the luxurious Giovanni’s or head to La Roma for a more affordable meal.
During the first week of June, the area hosts Italian Week, a spirited celebration of Italian food and culture. Every night, Preston Street is closed to traffic, allowing restaurants to spill out onto the pavement. Musicians and dancers perform along the streets and chefs vie for your business. Join in the procession to St. Anthony’s Church or attend Assaggi Night to sample a variety of traditional Italian foods.
See the iconic arch entrance to Little Italy on Preston Street with its simple red sign located in the middle of a metal arch, which reads “Little Italy” in cursive. Find another entrance further south on Preston Street and admire the whimsical sculptures entitled Bambini, which depict a soccer team through the eyes of a child.
Little Italy is located west of downtown Ottawa and south of the Canadian War Museum. It is easily accessible by bus.