Fun Things to Do in Little Italy, Ottawa

Fun Things to Do in Little Italy, Ottawa

Once in a while, my family and I visit Little Italy to satisfy our cravings for authentic Italian dishes. Sometimes, we visit the area to do some shopping or attend events that celebrate the district’s rich Italian heritage.

While this place is best known for the most popular Italian restaurants in the region, it has a lot more to offer. Continue reading to learn more about the fun things you can do in this amazing place. 

View Murals and Sculptures

As Little Italy is situated just west of downtown Ottawa, it won’t come as a surprise for people to see countless businesses in the area. 

But in the midst of these establishments are some awesome artworks that represent the district’s people and history. Below is a list of some murals and sculptures worth seeing. 

Don’t forget to tag your cameras along for some nice snapshots to keep.

1. Corso Italia Mural

Corso Italia Mural

Location: 125 Preston Street

Created by artist Karole Marois, Corso Italia is considered to be one of Little Italy’s treasures. Situated under the Queensway Bridge, this majestic mural is a collection of stunning paintings that depict the Italian community’s entrepreneurship and festivities. 

2. Da Vinci Mural

Da Vinci Mural

Location: Preston Street at Louisa Street

As the name suggests, this mural located at Preston Street at Louisa Street features artist Leonardo da Vinci. It was created by Ottawa muralists Dems & Doll and remains one of the largest pieces of public art in Little Italy.

In the foreground of this specular mural is a massive, globe-like sculpture that represents the strong alliance between Italy and Canada. It was donated by Italy’s Abruzzo region back in 2016.

3. Caffè Trattoria Italia Mural

Caffè Trattoria Italia Mural

Location: 254 Preston Street

If you’re into monochromatic artwork, the mural on Caffè Trattoria Italia’s south wall along Preston Street is for you. Created by Mirage Murals & Design, this black-and-white painting is sure to provide a sense of calm and serenity.

Getting here also brings you to yet another interesting piece of artwork, Bambini, which is located just across the street.

4. Bambini

Bambini

Location: Corner of Gladstone Avenue and Preston Street

Coined by many as “the big bowling pins,” Bambini is an artwork that depicts how a soccer team would look in a child’s mind. Installed in 2013, this joyful and colorful landmark is worth the visit. 

Visit St. Anthony’s Church

Visit St. Anthony’s Church

Since its construction back in 1908, this Roman Catholic church that was founded by Father Fortunatus Mizzi has become one of the most prominent places in Little Italy. It has served as a hub for the Italian-Canadian community in the area. 

Despite falling victim to a devastating fire in 1913, it was later rebuilt to be the beautiful church it is today. Inside, you’ll see some fresco paintings and ornate stained-glass windows that are sure to impress. 

If you’re a Christian, you may opt to attend masses, which are delivered in either English or French. The church also offers guided tours to help visitors learn more about its history and significance to the people of Ottawa.

Check out its website to learn more about its mass and tour schedules.

Visit Dow’s Lake

Visit Dow’s Lake

Little Italy has a lot of recreation grounds where you can have a nice picnic, play games, or simply enjoy the greenery. Among these parks include Plouffe Park along Preston Street and Chaudière Park along Elm Street.

Piazza Dante along Booth Street is also a nice spot as it has a splash fountain where children can play.

But the most popular of them all is Dow’s Lake in the southern part of the community. A man-made lake on the Rideau Canal, it offers locals and tourists scenic views and fun activities to indulge in. 

In May, the surrounding Commissioner’s Park blooms into a beautiful space that is covered with about 300,000 tulips of various kinds. In winter, it turns into a vast skating rink and becomes one of the major sites for the annual Winterlude.

Also located at the northern end of this UNESCO World Heritage waterway is a pavilion with three restaurants overlooking the placid waters.

Attend the Italian Week Festival

Attend the Italian Week Festival

If Little Italy’s colorful tulips in spring and icy fun in winter excite you, you wouldn’t want to miss witnessing the Italian Week celebration in June. Celebrated since 1975, this much-anticipated annual event features Italian food and cultural heritage.

During the first week of this month, Preston Street is closed for small businesses and restaurants, along with live music, dance performances, parades, and many more. If you’re a fan of vintage and Ferrari cars, you’re in for a nice treat. 

Dine in Restaurants

If you find yourself craving some quick bites after that awesome walk around Little Italy, that won’t be a problem. Considered a foodie destination, this place provides the perfect opportunity to relish authentic Italian food and other culinary specialties.

As a food hub, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. But if you’re not quite sure where to go, here are some of the best ones you could start with. 

1. Giovanni’s Restaurant

Giovanni's Restaurant

Website: https://www.giovannis-restaurant.com/ 
Address: 362 Preston St, Ottawa, ON K1S 4M7, Canada
Contact Details: +1 613-234-3156
Operating Hours: Monday to Friday 11 AM – 10 PM, Saturday 5 PM – 11 PM
Must-Order Menu Items: Veal Parmigiana, Manicotti, Fettuccine Alfredo, Tiramisu
Price Range: $$ (Average) – $$$ (Expensive)

Since its opening back in 1983, Giovanni’s has become one of the most popular Italian restaurants in the area. With world-class Chef Tomasz Gurzynski by its side, Giovanni’s exquisite menu can satisfy all cravings for authentic Italian cuisine. 

Today, customers can choose from a wide array of options, which include some of the finest cuts of meat, seafood, pasta, and desserts. It even has an expertly selected wine program that is perfect for wine lovers.

If you’re uncertain of what to order on your first visit, we recommend trying out its Veal Parmigiana. For pasta lovers, we suggest ordering the Manicotti or the Fettuccine Alfredo. 

The Tiramisu tastes heavenly, too, so you might want to wrap up your dining experience with it. Just be ready to shell out some extra cash as prices are relatively more expensive. 

Nonetheless, with great food that’s matched with an awesome staff and an alluring ambiance, a time at Giovanni’s will be a moment worth remembering. 

2. Sanguiccio Deli-Cafe

Sanguiccio Deli-Cafe

Website: https://www.sanguiccio.ca/ 
Address: 183 Preston St, Ottawa, ON K1R 7P8, Canada
Contact Details: +1 613-569-0456
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Friday 11 AM – 6 PM, Saturday 12 PM – 4:30 PM
Must-Order Menu Items: Prosciutto with Provolone Sandwich, Tomato Salad, Antipasto Plate, Italian Cold Cuts
Price Range: $ (Cheap) – $$ (Average)

If you’re more of a sandwich person, then the renowned Sanguiccio Deli-Cafe will be perfect for you. Despite its limited space, this hidden gem offers some of the best sandwiches in the area.

One of the things we love about this small cafe is that everything is tasty and made fresh – from the juicy tomatoes to the awesome house-made sauce.  We also like the open kitchen’s ambiance and that amazing smell as soon as you enter.

Since it has a rather limited menu, it won’t be that hard to choose what to get. But if you need suggestions, we recommend the Prosciutto with Provolone Sandwich or the Tomato Salad for pasta lovers.

Just don’t forget that since nothing is pre-made, this place won’t be ideal if you’re in a rush. You can, however, call and place your order in advance for later pickup. 

3. Atelier

Atelier

Websitehttps://www.atelierrestaurant.ca/ 
Address: 540 Rochester St, Ottawa, ON K1S 4M1, Canada
Contact Details: +1 613-321-3537
Operating Hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 6 PM – 8 PM
Must-Order Menu Items: 40-course tasting menu (Pairing options also available)
Price Range: $$ (Average) – $$$ (Expensive)

If you fancy an exquisite dining experience with a 40-course tasting menu, Atelier is the place to be. For $225, each guest is in for a bunch of different flavors to enjoy. 

Some of the exciting dishes to look forward to include the Veal Loin, the Eel with Birch, and the Sweet Pea Globe. There’s wine pairing, too, and we recommend trying out the Half Wine Pairing at $125 to wrap up this unique experience. 

However, since this restaurant is only open between Wednesday and Saturday from 6 PM to 8 PM, it is crucial that you place your reservation in advance. 

It is also important to inform the chef of allergies and specific preferences to ensure that everything is in place before your visit. Prices here might be relatively steep, but we are certain that every cent spent will be worth it. 

4. Umbrella Burger

Umbrella Burger

Websitehttps://www.umbrellaburger.com/ 
Address: 186 Preston St, Ottawa, ON K1R 7P9, Canada
Contact Details: +1 613-230-1973
Operating Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11:30 AM – 11 PM
Must-Order Menu Items: Umbrella Double Burger, Chicken Sandwich, Crinkle Cut Sweet Potato Fries, 6-Piece Tender Jumbo Strips
Price Range: $ (Cheap) – $$ (Average)

For burger lovers, this restaurant has a decent menu that you will surely love. On your visit, we recommend trying out the Umbrella Double Burger with juicy beef patties, fresh veggies, and perfectly prepared homemade sauce. 

If you like something spicy, the Chicken Sandwich is worth the try. There are also sides available, and you’ll never go wrong with the Sweet Potato Fries or the Jumbo Strips, which are made of chicken with an awesome barbecue sauce.

We also love its relaxing patio, which gives off that traditional vibe. It’s just a bummer, though, that some have not been quite satisfied with the portions of the burger. 

But overall, it’s a good place and you won’t regret paying it a visit.

5. Pub Italia

Pub Italia

Websitehttps://pubitalia.ca/ 
Address: 434 Preston St, Ottawa, ON K1S 4N4, Canada 
Contact Details: +1 613-232-2326
Operating Hours: Monday 4 PM – 1 AM, Tuesday to Saturday 11 AM – 1 AM, Sunday 12 PM – 12 AM
Must-Order Menu Items: Nonna’s Meatballs, Margherita Pizza, Pesto Pasta, Trappist Beer
Price Range: $$ (Average) – $$$ (Expensive)

Pub Italia is a restobar that combines the rich cultures of both Ireland and Italy in one awesome place. With its cozy and warm atmosphere, you’ll know that you’re in for a truly unique experience upon entering its doors.

It is the perfect spot to relish great Italian cuisine while enjoying some of the best drinks Little Italy has to offer.

For starters, you might want to get some Nonna’s Meatballs or Margherita Pizza. If you prefer something lighter, the Pesto Pasta might work for you.

For alcoholic and alcohol-free drinks, Pub Italia has this thing it calls the “Beer Bible,” which shows a long line of options – from Canadian Drafts to Specialty Bottles. Among these, the Trappist Beers are must-tries, although their prices can be a little steep.

Apart from its great selections of dishes and drinks, we also love its covered patios and the fact that this place is also child-friendly with high chairs readily available upon request. The free parking at the back of the pub is great, too.

Have a Staycation 

If you’re planning to stay around the area for a night or two or several days, there are also accommodations available nearby. Here are some of the places you might want to consider.

1. LIV Extended Stay

LIV Extended Stay

Website: https://www.livextendedstay.com/ 
Address: 207 Bell St N Suite 100, Ottawa, ON K1R 0B9, Canada
Contact Details: +1 855-500-0155

If you’re looking for an affordable spot that’s nestled near Little Italy, LIV Extended Stay would probably be one of the best options for you. Aside from having fully furnished units you’d expect in a home, its rates are also relatively cheaper.

Each room is equipped with all the amenities. Among these include super-fast personal wifi and a kitchen that’s complete with the basics like a fridge and a dishwasher. 

The hotel has a gym and a convenience store with a restaurant. However, since the parking space easily gets full, this place might not be very appealing for guests with vehicles.

But all in all,  LIV Extended Stay is a nice place and we’re certain that you won’t regret your stay here. 

2. Lord Elgin Hotel

Lord Elgin Hotel

Website: https://lordelginhotel.ca/ 
Address: 100 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5K8, Canada
Contact Details: +1 613-235-3333

If you’re willing to shell out a bit more to experience the beauty of a famed hotel, Lord Elgin Hotel will be an ideal choice. A historic, 4-star hotel, it is packed with quaint amenities you’ll love. 

As this hotel first opened in 1941, some of the rooms here may look rather old. But despite these, they are furnished with comfortable beds, reading lights, rainfall showerheads, and a Keurig coffee maker. 

There are also tons of plug-in spots for all sorts of devices and closets to keep all your belongings well-organized. The pool and the gym are nice, too.

But what keeps this hotel exceptionally great is its superb customer service. From its receptionist to its valet, everyone is just friendly, courteous, and helpful. 

Its prime location is also worth noting as it provides the best views and easy access to awesome tourist spots like Parliament Hill and Rideau Canal.

3. The Business Inn & Suites

The Business Inn & Suites

Website: https://thebusinessinn.com/ 
Address: 180 MacLaren St, Ottawa, ON K2P 0L3, Canada
Contact Details: +1 844-997-1777

Aside from its great location, The Business Inn & Suites also has relatively lower rates, which pretty much include everything. The rooms here are fully furnished – complete with couches, tables, and comfortable beds. 

The custom pillow-topped mattresses and box springs are exceptional and you’ll just love how comfortable they are.  

The kitchen is equipped with everything you’ll need, including a stove/oven and a full-size fridge. But if you don’t have time to do some cooking, the hotel allows its guests to customize their meals, particularly breakfast.

As this hotel is also ideal for people who are on official business trips, each suite comes with a free computer and a printer that can print documents unlimitedly. 

Overall, with its awesome location and affordable rates, The Business Inn & Suites is one of the hotels near Little Italy that’s worth considering.

4. Sonder The O’Connor

Sonder The O'Connor

Website: https://www.sonder.com/en-ca/destinations/ottawa/rideau/c35378?sleeps=1 
Address: 377 R. O’Connor St, Ottawa, ON K2P 2M2, Canada
Contact Details: +1 438-795-6650

Situated close to Centretown, The O’Connor has both the amenities and access to some of the best places in the area. These spots include the Rideau Canal, Parliament buildings, and the Canadian Museum of Nature, which is just across the street.

A stay at this awesome accommodation lets you enjoy queen-size beds, a fully equipped kitchen, air conditioning, and Roku for streaming, to mention a few. It also has a 24/7 fitness center and a game room with tons of arcades to keep you entertained. 

With its great location and awesome amenities at affordable rates, a stay at Sonder The O’Connor will be worth it. 

5. Alt Hotel Ottawa

Alt Hotel Ottawa

Website: https://www.germainhotels.com/en/alt-hotel/ottawa 
Address: 185 Slater St., Ottawa, ON K0C 0C8, Canada
Contact Details: +1 613-691-6882

Conveniently located in the business district of downtown Ottawa, Alt Hotel Ottawa is a good option if you’re planning to stay longer to explore Little Italy for a couple of days or more.

This 148-room hotel is equipped with amenities like a 24-hour gym, a rainfall showerhead, and a Nespresso coffee machine. The best part is that you can even bring your fur babies with you since this establishment is pet-friendly. 

Alt Hotel Ottawa also offers some of the best rates in town. In fact, it does price matching and promises to beat competitors’ rates by 10%. 

If that’s not enough, this hotel also has a flexible checkout time. This simply means that you don’t have to rush and spend more time in the comfort of your room before you depart. 

All you have to do is to inform the management of your preferred departure time when you arrive. 

If you suddenly change plans, there’s nothing much to worry about as the hotel can cancel your reservation without penalty. Just make sure that you cancel before 4 PM on the date of your arrival. 

Although its housekeeping services might not be top-notch, it remains one of the best places to stay when you’re around Little Italy.