Festitalia Culinary Tour spotlights Hamilton’s very best Italian cuisine

It’s no secret that Hamilton has a rich, longstanding Italian heritage and cultural scene. From decades of Italian immigration in the mid-20th century to the sizable population that still makes up the city today, it’s not hard to see Italian influence in so much of the city’s cultural fabric. 

In fact, one only needs to look at the Hammer’s culinary scene to get a strong sense of how much Italian tradition permeates the city, from reliable old-school eateries to more contemporary cuisine.  

That’s why Festitalia – Hamilton’s organization dedicated to promoting and celebrating Italian culture –  hosts its annual Italian Culinary Tour: a city-wide program that encourages locals to explore the rangy Italian food scene and all it has to offer. 

Running from September 25th to October 29th, the 2023 Festitalia Italian Culinary Tour Presented by CARSTAR is bigger and better than ever, casting a wide net for its roster of Italian restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and speciality retailers that run the gamut from casual fare to fine dining, from popular spots to hidden gems that go off the beaten path. 

Nearly 15 local spots are part of Festitalia this year, offering exclusive menus for the duration of the tour to encourage locals to eat their way around Hamilton’s Italian food scene, revisiting old favourites and discovering new ones. 

The Hamilton Mountain, lower city, and adjoining areas like Ancaster and Stoney Creek are well represented among classic spots like Valentino’s, La Piazza Allegra, Nardini Specialties, and Sweet Paradise; all familiar favourites Hamiltonians have been enjoying for decades.

A pasta dish from Valentino’s (Image: Festitalia)

Then there are the more modern options like Sasso, Famiglia Ristorante, Radius, Simply Italian Bakery, and Claudio’s on James North; restaurants that represent a new wave of Italian cuisine in Hamilton’s ever-growing food scene, from pasta dishes to wood-fired pizzas to comforting baked goods and beyond. 

To aid in your culinary journey, Festitalia has also launched an interactive map on their website. Made possible by the tour-presenting sponsor CARSTAR, it allows locals to view and plan out their personal self-guided tours through Hamilton’s Italian restaurants. 

Festitalia’s Italian Culinary Tour is a popular event each year, and it’s not hard to see why: Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines out there, due largely to its rich and comforting flavours, its simplicity and versatility, and its reliance on the highest quality ingredients. 

Pizza from Sasso (Image: Festitalia)

“Italian cuisine is the essence of farm or garden to table! Using fresh and local ingredients in their cooking is a cornerstone to Italian cuisine,” says Festitalia. “Chefs at the many participatory restaurants have embraced this tradition and culinary philosophy. We get to experience the many diverse Italian culinary options at our partner locations in the Tour.” 

Whether it’s indulging over a plate of Carbonara or Osso Buco, or savouring each bite of a classic cannoli, Festitalia’s 2023 Culinary Tour is sure to be as delicious as it is educational. Get out there, explore Hamilton’s Italian roots, and buon appetito! 

Festitalia’s 2023 Culinary Tour, presented by CARSTAR, runs from September 25th to October 29th at locations all over Hamilton. See details and a list of participating restaurants on their website.

Lead image courtesy of La Piazza Allegra

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