Help me Doctor!: Where can I take my father for his birthday?  He likes Italian. – Huy L

Your prescription: Holy moly. My brain almost exploded when I received this question, as there are so many incredible Italian restaurants in this city. To make my task easier I’ve kept it to CBD venues, but let me know if you have a specific locale in mind.

Grossi Florentino– A classic. The grill and cellar bar are stylish and casual, upstairs is starched linen tablecloths serving fine dining. 80 Bourke Street +61 3 9662 1811

Italy 1 – One of my favourites. An intimate space with consistently well-prepared dishes. 27 George Pde +61 3 9654 4430

Il Bacaro – Dark, moody decor, very sexy food. 168 Lt Collins St Melbourne +61 3 9654 6778

Bottega – Without actively realising it, I’ve always picked it as the destination for the first meet-the-parents assignation. Maybe because of the calming sleek interior and delicious but non-threatening menu. 74 Bourke St, Melbourne +61 3 9654 2252‎

The Italian– Heard good things about his restaurant from RM, but not been there personally. Level 6, 101 Collins St +61 3 9654 9499 ‎

Becco is frequently touted as the best fine-dining Italian restaurant in Melbourne, but frankly I was disappointed when I went. Food was delicious, yes, but value for money? No.

My final word of advice; avoid Pellegrinis and The Waiters Club at all costs (not that they’re really birthday celebration kind of venues). I know these places are iconic, but their food is terrible – we’re talking the kind of red-sauce slop that was acceptable in the 50s, but should no longer be served to Melburnians’ well-travelled, sophisticated and discerning palates. If you don’t believe me, my Italian friend Amanda backs me up on this! – Jetsetting Joyce