Little Italy is one of Ottawa’s
There’s always something happening!
Preston Street, also known as Corso Italia, is the neighbourhood where Italian immigrants first settled in Ottawa in the early 1900s. You will find a warm welcome here in our independent, owner-operated shops and restaurants. Many of our businesses are run by the second and third generation of the same family. Not only can you find great Italian food here, but Little Italy features 42 restaurants with cuisine from around the world. There’s more than just great food and shopping here - Little Italy hosts many interesting things to do! From virtual reality games to comedy, live theatre, murder mystery, live music and even magic, there are many great options to entertain families, adults and kids of all ages.
If you’re in Ottawa during the middle of June you are in for a treat! That is when the Italian Community of Ottawa joins the merchants of Preston Street to celebrate Italian Festival that includes the biggest street party in the city on Father’s Day Weekend. The road is closed to vehicles, making room for patios, fabulous street entertainers, and a stage full of talented performers presenting both Italian and popular music. Settimana Italiana (Italian Week) also includes the Ferrari Festival, Italian Car Parade, and Preston Criterium cycling race.
Our walkable neighbourhood, close to downtown Ottawa, includes numerous art galleries and exhibits plus lots of opportunities to meet local artists and see them at work in their studios. Nearby, you’ll find parkland surrounding Dow’s Lake, part of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a network of bike paths, linking you to the city-wide urban cycling and pedestrian trail system. We’ve got loads of great ideas on how to enjoy Ottawa’s most vibrant, historical neighbourhood and you can find all the details on our monthly calendar of events. Check back often as new events are being added all the time!
There’s also a full slate of activities, events and attractions in and around Little Italy all year long. Highlights include:
- February: Winterlude - The Capital region’s exciting annual wintertime multidimensional festival with many events just steps from Preston Street
- May: Canadian Tulip Festival – Celebrating Canada’s longstanding connection to the Netherlands, it’s the world's largest tulip festival, with over a million blooms across the city and special cultural programming at nearby Commissioners Park.
Click here to see the full list of events for 2019.
- June: Italian Week – Enjoy this unique, immersive celebration of all that is Italian, including art, food, culture, automobiles, cycling and history, for 10 special days in June.
- July: Presdelicious – New for 2017, this festival will showcase the amazing culinary delights and talented chefs that make Little Italy one of Ottawa’s most delicious neighbourhoods to visit.
- September: Grapefest
- November: Light the Night
Little Italy is in the heart of the city and quite literally, all roads lead to Preston Street. Our vibrant community is close to downtown Ottawa and easily accessed by car, transit, on foot or by bike. Once you’re here, you’ll enjoy a walkable, welcoming neighbourhood with lots to see and do, making it an ideal destination during Ottawa 2017 celebrations.
Here’s a handy map so you can find your way here easily.
Perhaps Ottawa’s most delicious neighbourhood!
As you’d expect, some of Ottawa’s most exceptional Italian cuisine can be found on Preston Street. But did you know there’s actually world of delicious dining available in our charming neighbourhood? There are cafes, pubs, casual diners and upscale restaurants serving up a broad spectrum of fresh, flavourful cuisine. Check out the food and drink section of our business directory for all the delectable options including Thai, Indian, French, Korean, Greek, South African, Turkish,
Southern Soul Food, Italian and so much more. Little Italy is the best place to visit if you want to eat, drink or be merry!
Little Italy is a destination neighbourhood with European flair; it’s where you’ll find the finest in ladies’ fashion, children’s clothes, specialty foods, home décor, tools, kitchenware, scooters and so much more. Plus, with friendly, helpful owners in-store, you’ll enjoy great service too!
Fitness and recreation in and around Little Italy
Indoors or out, there’s a wealth of possibilities. Cycling, walking, running, inline skating, cross-country skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing can all be enjoyed, depending on the season. Fitness fans will find everything from pools to pilates, yoga to cycling, boxing to strength training - there’s truly something for everyone! Check out our business directory for a full list of fitness studios, find the drop-in schedule for the Plant Bath (our local public swimming pool and recreation centre) and learn more about seasonal activities on the nearby Rideau Canal Skateway (the world’s largest skating rink) or the SJAM Winter Trail with its cross-country ski and fat bike rentals.
Historical Little Italy:
One of Ottawa’s most picturesque and intriguing communities
For over 100 years, Little Italy has been recognized as a diverse, welcoming neighbourhood, something to cheer about during Canada 150 celebrations. Here’s a quick look at our rich history:
In the early 1800’s many Italian labourers sought seasonal work elsewhere in Europe but later made their way to North America for higher wages. Wives and families followed later and Ottawa’s Little Italy began to take shape. We’re reminded daily of our history with the names Via Marconi (Gladstone Avenue) and Corso Italia (Preston Street).
By 1913, Ottawa was home to about 150 Italian families, most of whom lived around the Preston Street area; they founded St. Anthony's Church at the corner of Booth and Gladstone, which remains the hub of the Italian community in Ottawa today.
For over forty years, Little Italy’s Italian Week (Settimana Italiana) has been one of Ottawa’s most popular festivals. Held in June, it’s a multifaceted celebration of Italian culture that includes everything from cycling races to car shows to delicious food and drink.
What are people saying about Little Italy?
Here are a few of our favourite comments from social media:
Full of great restaurants with a refurbished main street, it's the heart of Little Italy in Ottawa, Canada's capital city. Especially lively on warm summer evenings where patios are full of locals and visitors alike.
Preston Street is known as little Italy. Love it for pasta, entertainment or drinks - for any Italian fare, you can find it here. There are also more well-known chain bars/pubs and a comedy club to boot. It is nice to go and walk in the summer; stop for a beer or some pizza and enjoy the feel of Little Italy right in the heart of Ottawa. Minutes from downtown and near attractions such as the Tulip Festival and canal ice skating, it is a forever extending and growing community.”
Have been in Little Italy on Preston Street a few times recently, both at lunch time and in the evening. Always busy. A fun place to stroll. Lots of restaurants, primarily, but not exclusively, Italian and shops along the street. On a summer evening, people are sitting out on restaurant patios and strolling along, eating gelato. A very pleasant environment.”
This is just a great walk. The street has been refurbished and there are so many great coffee shops and places to buy cheese like Luciano foods that it makes your spin. Luciano foods has hams hanging and wonderful Italian breads as well as cheeses etc...like stepping into Italy. Preston street is very vibrant, alive and a lot of fun.