Of the best Italian restaurants in Istanbul, Olea Bosphorus is hard to beat. Within the stunning urban resort of Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul, Olea blends Italian cuisine and Mediterranean culture – and it does so with great panache in this lively and popular restaurant.
Italian Restaurants in Istanbul
A top-rated Italian restaurant in Istanbul
As you might expect from the restaurant’s name, which means “olive” in Latin, Olea features seating areas beautifully set among olive trees. Guests can dine indoors, in the waterfront conservatory or on the shoreside terrace. It’s a divine venue, offering not only a fabulous authentic menu but also an elegant atmosphere and magical views across the captivating Bosphorus waters toward the first two of the Bosphorus bridges. Surely one of the best – and most romantic – restaurants in Istanbul.
Possibly the best of the luxury Italian restaurants in Istanbul
Noted for its Cibo di Famiglia – original family recipes passed down through the generations – Olea is one of the best Italian restaurants in Istanbul if you’re also looking for legendary hospitality in luxurious surroundings.
As well as traditional Cibo di Famiglia, Olea offers a wide range of classic dishes and an impressive wine list. Indeed, on approaching the entrance to the restaurant, one can’t help but notice the bespoke wine cabinetry with its glistening display that would delight any wine enthusiast. But let’s start with the food menu.
As a top-rated Italian restaurant in Istanbul, it’s no surprise to find that Olea showcases local produce; it also imports Italian ingredients to ensure a truly authentic experience.
How do you start a meal at Italian restaurants in Istanbul?
Diners usually begin by choosing from a selection of antipasti. After all, the word antipasto is derived from the Latin for “before the meal”. Olea’s extensive offering includes Tartar di Manzo, a finely hand-chopped steak tartare with delicious dressings; Fiori di Zucchine Ripieni, the most beautiful stuffed zucchini flowers; and Fritto di Calamari e Gamberi, deep-fried calamari and prawns with feather-light crispy vegetable strings.
A seasonal vegetable soup, Minestra di Verdure, might be next on the menu of a luxury Italian restaurant in Istanbul. Or you could enjoy one of Olea’s flavoursome salads such as carefully braised octopus served with warm potato salad, black olives and semi-dried cherry tomatoes.
Do luxury Italian restaurants in Istanbul serve pizzas, pastas and risottos?
Yes, the best Italian restaurants in Istanbul present an assortment of these on their menus. At Olea, expect a good selection of pizzas, including favourites such as Margherita made with the freshest mozzarella; the Tartufata with Mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, rocket and black truffle; and a vegetarian pizza. The Bistecca pizza is delectable with the addition of thinly sliced tender beef fillet.
Fettucine fans will enjoy the beef oxtail ragout, Fettucine al Ragu d'Oxtail. Spaghetti lovers will shouldn’t miss the Spaghetti all'Aragosta with lobster ragout, tomato and bisque sauce. For a ravioli, you could try the Ravioli di Ricotta, which combines the flavours of ricotta, fava beans and fresh herbs. The rich and luxurious taglioni, Taglioni al Tartufo, is exquisite – and well deserving of its place on the menu of this top-rated Italian restaurant in Istanbul. Another one of Olea’s highlights is Risotto ai Carciofi e Gamberi, a risotto of prawns and artichoke in a bisque sauce.
What other dishes do luxury Italian restaurants in Istanbul typically serve?
You’ll find a good choice of meat, chicken and fish dishes. At Olea, dishes include sautéed lamb loin with black pepper sauce, green asparagus and cauliflower puree; atraditional beef dish of Tagliata di Manzo con Asparagi; and free-range poussin with lemon and rosemary. If fish is your go-to meal, you’ll enjoy the seabass pan-fried in butter with seasonal vegetables, and lemon and caper sauce. Branzino in Cartoccio is another Mediterranean-inspired dish featuring seabass baked in paper to lock in the flavours. And the balsamic-glazed salmon fillet is always popular.
Italian restaurants in Istanbul are great for sharing dishes
If you’re dining with a group at Olea, for example, great options are its piatti forti – sharing dishes for up to six people. Tagliolini al Tartufo e Pecorino is a delightful marriage of homemade tagliolini with fresh black truffles, truffle cream and pecorino cheese. The Stinco di Manzo follows a traditional recipe and is a melt-in-the-mouth dish of beef shank slow-cooked until perfectly tender and falling off the bone. Mouth-watering!
Remember to leave room for dessert
The best Italian restaurants in Istanbul couldn’t be without a tiramisu, and Olea’s Tiramisu con Amaretto is exemplary. Moreish, too! Other Olea favourites are the Mandarin Sorbet, a delightful ode to Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum; the panna cotta, which is sublime; and the Italian gelati, which are beautifully light, fruity and refreshing.
The best bar in Istanbul?
At Olea Bosphorus, you’re likely to find not just one of the best Italian restaurants in Istanbul but also perhaps the best bar in Istanbul. Simply named The Bar and directly located on the Bosphorus waterfront, it has a great selection of drinks and is the perfect meeting point for local and international elite guests. Start your experience with an apéritif to whet your appetite: a must-do if you’re looking for the best aperitivo in Istanbul. Complement your meal with an Italian wine such as a bottle selected from estates in Piemonte and Umbria, Tuscany, Veneto and Friuli.
And why not end your culinary journey at one of the most romantic restaurants in Istanbul with a satisfying digestif. Salute!
Enjoy dining and drinks at a luxury Italian restaurant in Istanbul
Olea Bosphorus & The Bar at Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul are open every day from 7am until 11.30pm.