A complete guide to Cairns Restaurants

Donnini's Ciao Italia

An authentic Italian restaurant & cafe inside The Pier Marketplace. Donnini's Ciao Italia features an open kitchen, highly attentive staff, and some of the best Italian food available in Cairns.




Visa, EFTPOS, A la carte, Licensed

Price Guide







(07) 40511133
The Pier Marketplace, Cairns

What people are saying...

25 Nov 2012

My girlfriends and I went out for dinner on a Saturday. Staff were very nice, helpful and humorous and food was absolutely delizioso! Best lasagne I've ever tasted and amazing gnocchi. Recommend it for everyone! It is also in a prime location with lovely views of the water and a enthusiastic atmosphere! Rating it out of 10: 9 :)

26 Nov 2011

Best Italian food I have ever had. Cannot believe the previous comments about bad service as it was not only good but excellent and it was a Saturday night too.The staff even bought my kids meal well in advance and the overall experience was awesome.

16 Oct 2011

Simply "devine".. A must!! Delicious food, service with a huge smile, and beautiful view, with a summer breeze. The staff are the best! , welcoming professional and make your dining experience one to stay in your hearts. , thankyou for everything !!:

3 hot mummas
23 Apr 2011

Lovely food,awesome staff. How do they get that Italian sausage around that lamb chop??

Sinead & simon
8 Apr 2011

Service was very slow. We waited an hour on a sat night for our meals. Pasta was good, not too much cream in the carbonara, pizza really bad...very tasteless, and soggy, waiter didnt care for the feedback after we didnt eat it. Ill never know why people dont like feedback when they have specifically asked for it. Prices good value though...wont be going back unfortunately.

Michelle & Russell
29 Dec 2010

Dining here on a Thursday or Friday is a must for the fresh trio of pasta, Delicious! We refuse to eat non-fresh pasta so we were delighted to find such well made fresh pasta in Cairns.

The staff are always great and on the spot with water or drinks. The rolled chicken is also gorgeous and moist. We will be back!

16 Jul 2010

No other Italian restaurant in Cairns can compare, the BEST bruchetta I'ver ever had and I can't go past the calamari salad.....always wonderful. Have been dining there for over 8 years and never had a bad meal.

7 May 2010

This restaurant is great and very good italian food. We'll return in July 2010.

Daniel B
1 May 2010

I have been going to Ciao Italia for over 10 years and have never had a bad meal.
Yes it does take time sometimes, but so does perfection.
The greatest pizzas (try it with the chilli oil), and Tiramisu I have ever had and a few weeks ago I went and had the greatest Bruchetta I have ever eaten.
I wish I could get the recipe for making the Bruchetta.
I am a critical bastard but this is the place I advise all my tourism customers to come.
My favourite restaurant in Cairns.

Daniel B

Fred St Augustine
17 Mar 2010

Ah yeah, that Donnini's. Never fail to impress. THE ONLY italian restaurant I go for food indulgence. Relaxing atmosphere, no attitude staffs, casual, TOP food. This place will always be my fortnight regular dinner place. And always the one to recommend.....Thanks Greg

Geoffrey Smith
11 Dec 2009

I have lived in Cairns since 1989 and have eaten at Donninis when they were inside the Pier. The food, and I have sampled almost the entire menu, is absolutely fantastic. Now with an outstanding sea breeze location they are unbeatable for good Italian food and freindly service in a superb relaxed environment. A great way to wind up the day.

Cecelia McPhee Imaje Events
4 Nov 2009

I would like to pass on my sincerist thanks to Geoff and his fine staff for their valiant efforts in hosting one of the State dinners for The Plan Morgage Brokers 10 year conference held in Cairns recently.

Not only were they professional in their dealings with the event organisers but on the night in question performed under emmense pressure. The time turn around was very tight and the service was flawless considering they had to allow for a 10 minute presentation which was to have no interruptions. The food was beautifully presented, delicious and plentiful allowing for a variety of customer preferences.

The atmosphere was relaxed and warm considering the staff were working at double pace. They even managed to service the events staff without being directed too.

Congratulations on a job well done, I will be recommending you for future conferences and will myself be back to dine at Donnini's when next in Cairns.

2 Nov 2009

Will not go back unless i have absolutely no choice.

We ordered 3 pasta and had to wait more than 1 hour. Worse than that, the tables arrived after us all got their meals.

Lyndell Ross
13 Sep 2009

Donnini's is one of my favorite restaurants in Cairns the service is always fabulous and so it the food, great waterfront position - the staff are great and have been there for years

I think you will find that the two reviews saying that Donnini's was anything short of fabulous never ate at Donnini's. Sounds more like another restaurant that can't compete so wants to rubbish its competitors - this unfortunately happens a bit in Cairns take my advice go to Donnini's you will be glad you did

13 Aug 2009

Must say this is the best Italian restaurant in Cairns by far. hen ever i want to go out, Donnini's is the first place i think of.

My aunty is a regular there and the waitstaff now know us by name. haha.

Definitely a must.

20 Jun 2009

I would not even consider dining here again. We had to wait 45mins for our meals, and the food was terrible. My girlfriend’s pizza was cold, so much so that the cheese was no longer melted, and my “large” lasagne would have been the size of two credit cards. I commend the customer service of the wait staff, however letting us know that we needed to wait 45mins would not have been such a hard thing! There are plenty of better, more authentic, and cheaper Italian restaurants in Cairns....choose somewhere else!

24 May 2009

Well, judging by the other reviews, I must have been at Donninis on a real bad night. The service was lousy and the food was rubbish.
I had the roast pork belly with a potato and pumpkin mash. The roast pork was dry and stringy and covered in rosemary (you have to be kidding,rosemary and pork, after 2 weeks i can still taste it) and the mash had no trace of potato. All this for $33.
My wife had the bolognaise, she figured an "italian restraurant" can not get this wrong. She made me try it and i could see why she couldn't finish it. They should try a differen't pre packaged sauce because the "no frills" variety just doesn't cut. The pasta was the very thin variety(not very traditional). We paid $18.

We won't be back.

Andrea Parker
8 Mar 2009

Fantastic staff, friendly nature and great knowledge of dishes. promising future of custom.

16 Jan 2007

The service was fantastic and the food to die for. The crab and calamari ravioli was unbelievable...melt in you mouth stuff.
I'd highly recommend it to anyone.

14 Jan 2007

We ate at several restaurants while in Cairns and Donnini's was by far the best. Best for service, beautiful food, easy to find, but hard to get a table as their so popular. Nice relaxed atmosphere. They'll be part of our next Nth Qld holiday plans for sure.

Megan Murdoch
17 Feb 2006

Ciao Italia is a must visit for anyone who loves Italian food. We love it so much that we travelled from Sydney to Cairns just to celebrate my husband's 40th birthday!!! The bruschetta is to die for!

Claudine Grantham
14 Feb 2006

An absolute must when visiting Cairns, Donnini's Ciao italia is institutionalised as Cairns' finest, and most authentic Italian restaurant and pizzeria. Love the new location on the ground floor with indoor / ourtdoor dining and views of the marina offering great service and specials. The variety of home made paste is to die for - not to be missed

Claudine Grantham

Allan & Yvonne Hopper
3 Oct 2004

Finally found authentic Italian food! Unfortunately we live too far away to visit often - hard to get a taxi from Perth! Thanks for a wonderful dining experience during our holiday in Cairns.

Allan & Yvonne

Marcia Breen
24 May 2004

If you crave great cuisine and excellent service then you can depend on Doninni's to deliver. They've never let us down and we've been going there for years. Bravo guys!

Madeleine Clifford
18 May 2004

My favourite Italian restaurant in Australia, and I grew up in Melbourne! We often went to their other restaurant down south, so are regulars in Cairns. Best spaghetti bolognaise around, and the Tiramisu is heavenly. Service is excellent, quick and attentive without being intrusive. Whenever I want to go out for dinner and not be disappointed, I go to Donnini's.

15 Feb 2004

caro gianni ti ho trovato anche qui un saluto dal freddy
saluta greg

Felicity Vonhoff
9 Oct 2003

Donninis Ciao Italia, what a pleasure it always was to dine there. My family where regular customers for the six months that we spent in Cairns and it will always be our favourite restaurant. Wonderful food, great service and a pleasant relaxed atmosphere.

21 Mar 2003

Fine dining at the mall
Reviewed on: 2003-03-21
Reviewer's rating: 4

Your reviewer has long believed that restaurants located in shopping centres and at places of accommodation are questionable - the chance of the food being really great is less assured than at an independent restaurant. But my arrogant view has been given a rigorous shake recently. The more restaurants I try, the more I realize that some of the best are hidden in the most unlikely locations. Like the upper corner of a touristy shopping mall.

Donnini's, located upstairs at the Pier Marketplace, is one of the restaurants I never gave much thought to. But it has been around for years now and is always packed with smiling patrons tucking into their meals. Its central location in Cairns makes it a great place to ramp-up for a big night out - see a concert, hit up a nightclub, or stroll the esplanade. But its unremarkable position in the Pier is a drawback. The beaming noises from people on the ground floor of the Pier make Donnini's one of the loudest restaurants I have been to. And unfortunately most of the noise is not of it's own making. But maybe that is a Mediterranean characteristic that Donnini's has cunningly captured.

The licensed restaurant serves traditional Italian dishes that are cooked in an open kitchen so you can see everything that's going on. This is always a good indicator that the hygiene in the kitchen is of high standards. The food here is of the highest qualities, and is reflected in the prices. A main meal will set you back around $20-$25, but the meals are worthy of their price tag.

Donnini's has terrific breads. The focaccia is dusted with salt, garlic and rosemary, and makes a great starter. This is cooked in their pizza oven - about as traditional as you can get. As a main I had the roasted loin of veal with mushrooms and sage. The veal was delicate, coated with lovely gravy that enhanced the mushrooms. Accompanied with a glass of the house red wine, and I had a meal I couldn't pull myself away from. Even the giant fish hanging from the ceiling of the Pier Marketplace was eyeing off my meal with a longing look on his face.

Pizzas at Donnini's have thin crispy bases and an extensive range of toppings. I didn't have a pizza so I can't reliably confirm their deliciousness, but they looked fantastic and the face of the patrons consuming the round delicacies indicated the pizzas were very good. The next time I visit Donnini's I will definitely get myself a pizza.

Inside the restaurant, the owners have tried to give it as much Italian flavour as possible. The walls are painted with Italian motifs and the terracotta colours give it a warm feeling. But a glance over the fence barricading the Pier Marketplace from the restaurant reveals the giant hanging fish, the elevator, and all the other tourist paraphernalia. Ignore this, however, and you have a great restaurant where you can chat and laugh to your hearts content.

The night I was at Donnini's the restaurant was full, and the few waitresses worked very quickly ensuring that everyone was looked after. The service was quick, friendly and helpful, rounding off the entire experience and ensuring my return visit.

Donnini's has proven that restaurants in shopping malls can rank among the finest. Don't be a stickler like me and avoid it for that reason; you're missing out on a gem.

- Diner Diller

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