Okay, the links between Italy and Brighton are slim. The ancient Romans seemed to like the bracing sea air and gently sloping, green and pleasant land lying between the English Channel and the South Downs, building a number of villas in the area. Archaeologists are yet to discover whether this period saw the first Italian restaurant in Brighton. Rather down on its luck after the retreat of the Romans, Brighton experienced a renaissance quite separate to that of Italy in the mid-18th century when it became a hub for transport from France. Roads into London were improved, and the fad for ’taking the sea air’ and bathing in spas gripped the gentry of the British Isles. Brighton’s famous Georgian terraces were shooting up by the time the 19th century rolled around, given a boost when King George IV bestowed his patronage on the blossoming town and built the famous Royal Pavilion to the northeast of the old town – an area now known as the Lanes that is home to many of Brighton’s best Italian restaurants and many other cafes, restaurants and bars. The London and Brighton Railway, completed in 1841, brought thousands of daytrippers to the seaside resort from London, a tradition that continues to this day. In the hundred years up to 1901, Brighton’s population mushroomed from 7000 to 120,000. These days Brighton is known variously as the UK’s hippest city, the unofficial gay capital of the UK, the happiest place to live in the UK, and boasts a population of just under 300,000 while playing host to several million tourists per year.
Brighton’s Italian restaurant scene, and dining-out centre, is by and large concentrated in and around The Lanes, the historic old town bounded by North Street to the north, Ship Street, Prince Albert Street and Market Street to the west, south and east respectively. The Lanes is an area famous for its warren-like network of narrow, largely pedestrian thoroughfares, built-up during Brighton’s 18th-century surge in popularity thanks to its reputation as a spa-town resort. Bars, restaurants, cafes, and venues rub shoulders with boutiques and antique stores in this part of town, and it’s here you can find some of the best Italian restaurants in Brighton.
If you’re looking for Italian dining at a Brighton restaurant slightly left of centre, head to the east of the sea-side city centre, over the historical thoroughfare known as Old Steine, to the suburb of Kemptown. The district is a couple of blocks deep above Marine Parade and stretches along the coastal King’s Cliff to Black Rock and Brighton Marina, where developments include a couple of choice Brighton Italian restaurants. Kemptown is known as a gay community, with many shops and venues geared toward the queer community, and an artistic and creative hub, holding its own annual street carnival. It’s also home to a number of colourful Italian restaurants that Brighton locals love and you’d do well to get to know.
Brighton is well-known throughout the UK for its eyebrow-raising and tan-inducing levels of sunshine compared to the rest of the famously grim British Isles. Temperate overall, Brighton records an average high of 21ºC in August, rarely gets below freezing, and has only a small sprinkling of rain at the seafront – the ran in Brighton falls mainly on the plains, that is on the South Downs’ higher elevations to the north of the city. With Sussex and Brighton among the UK’s sunniest spots, there’s no wonder that many domestic tourists treat Brighton as if it were the Riviera or the Amalfi Coast. With this in mind, it’s safe to look for an Italian restaurant in Brighton with good alfresco seating so you can make the most of the sun and sea-breezes. The proprietors of the best Italian restaurants in Brighton know that streetside dining in this vibrant UK city can be a dealbreaker when diners are choosing where to book a table.