The 20 Best Italian Restaurants In The US

Based on the beauty and simplicity of fresh, seasonal ingredients, and the joys of sharing food with others, Italian food is almost universally known and beloved. Its history can be traced back to the Roman Empire with a cookbook from the first century B.C. Over the centuries, the country's regions have developed their own cuisines, based on the gifts that the land gives them. Coastal areas showcase fresh seafood, while Tuscany is well-known for its fantastic beef. Mozzarella and provolone are said to come from the south, while the north gave us specialties like risotto.

Historic migration has allowed Italian food to travel around the world. The United States received around four million Italian immigrants between 1880 and 1924, which explains the strong Italian presence in areas like the Northeast, as well as the ever-growing popularity of the country's cuisine. Today, Italian food is the second most popular in America, so finding it is no problem. Finding the best, though, is a different challenge. With that in mind, we have chosen the best Italian restaurants in the country.

Trattoria Sofia in Houston

Seasonal ingredients are the focus at Trattoria Sofia, resulting in a rustic Italian offering that shines with fresh flavors and beautiful presentations. The menu features classic dishes like bucatini al pesto or pizza Margherita (made with mozzarella di bufala), as well as lesser-known specialties, like salsa di fagioli bianchi, a Tuscan specialty made with white beans. Highlights include the pasta cacio e pepe and the chicken Parmigiana, while the wine menu focuses mostly on Italian and American labels.

Brought to Houston diners by the Berg Hospitality Group — who are also behind places like B.B. Italia Bistro & Bar and Emilia's Havana — this lively spot features a casual dining room and terrace, which is particularly lovely during weekend brunch while sipping on the house's apricot Bellini.

Revue in Austin

Leave it to Austin to blend Italian with Asian flavors — and do it successfully. This communal restaurant inside the Fairmont hotel offers a fun menu that might upset Italian food purists but will delight many others, featuring fun, shareable dishes like polpettine (beef meatballs with tomato sauce), orange chicken wings, papaya salad, and spicy vodka pasta. Locally-sourced ingredients make every creation bright and fresh and are particularly enjoyable on the house pizzas, such as the pie topped with caramelized leeks and onions. Rumor has it that Revue's tiramisu, with creamy mascarpone mousse, is the best in the state.

Every afternoon, Revue hosts a Sip & Shuck Happy Hour, offering half-dozen oyster platters for $12 as well as $10-dollar drinks, including a variety of Italian wines and premium sake.

Carbone (Multiple locations)

Beloved Italian-American dishes take on a glittery new level at Carbone, the New York hotspot born off the minds of Mario Carbone, Jeff Zalanznick, and Rich Torrisi. After the great success of the original Greenwich Village outpost, Carbone has now expanded to Las Vegas (inside the Aria hotel), Miami, Dallas, and Hong Kong, bringing a menu packed with shareable delights such as Caesar salad (prepared tableside), beef carpaccio, veal Parmesan, and spicy rigatoni alla vodka that have reached cult-level popularity.

Though some skeptics are not fans of the Carbone flash and the hard-to-score reservations, the experience is undeniably fun: attentive service and gorgeous interiors make it all feel like a special occasion, while potent cocktails (don't skip the rum Old Fashioned) and a retro playlist set the mood for enjoying food that's just damn good.

Felix Trattoria in Los Angeles

Regional Italian cuisine and California-grown ingredients make for an incredible combination at this Abbot Kinney spot, run by Janet Zuccarini, CEO of the Gusto 54 group, and chef Evan Funke, whose pasta-making skills were fine-tuned in Bologna. And it shows. The homemade pasta options, divided by regions, include spaghetti with bottarga from the Italian islands, and tonnarelli cacio e pepe from the country's central territories.

Other menu highlights include the panzanella salad (a Tuscan chopped salad made with tomatoes, onions, and soaked stale bread), the fluffy focaccia, and the budino di nocciole (walnut pudding). A selection of house cocktails (including a mezcal Negroni) and Italian wines pair beautifully with the food, served in a warm, intimate dining room where it's still quite hard to snag a spot since it's one of the best restaurants in LA.

Giacomo's in Boston

For more than three decades, Bostonians have been lining up outside this North End icon, serving traditional Italian fare in a friendly environment. Longtime fans keep coming back for the large portions, the warm service, and the cozy setting, with tables close enough to each other to create a familiar feeling, even among strangers.

Classic antipasti like fried calamari, mozzarella marinara, and burrata with tomatoes are part of the menu, as are plenty of seafood-centric dishes like fettuccini with swordfish and salmon in pesto-cream sauce or lobster, clams, and mussels over linguine. Specialties also include local favorites, like New England clam chowder and lobster rolls. Keep in mind that this family-run spot doesn't take reservations or credit cards, but there's an ATM inside the restaurant for your convenience.

Macchialina in Miami

Almost right since it opened in 2012, Michael Pirolo's cozy South Beach joint has been a hit among locals, tourists, and critics. At the heart of the rustic Italian menu is a selection of fantastic handmade pasta, including a short rib lasagna, cavatelli Macchialina (with baby meatballs, porchetta, and pecorino), and gorgeously simple spaghetti pomodoro. Antipasti options are not to be ignored, with salumi and cheeses served with gnoccho fritto, plus some tropically-adequate options like hamachi carpaccio and fresh insalata tricolore.

A great way to experience Macchalina is by ordering the chef's four-course tasting menu, which can include a wine pairing selected by sommelier Jacqueline Pirolo, chef Michael's younger sister. Jacqueline's keen eye is reflected in the beautiful wine list, composed of Italian wines and winner of the Best Contemporary Wine List by the prestigious Gambero Rosso magazine.

Redzôra in New York City

Inspired by the flavors of the northern region of Emilia-Romagna, Osteria Francescana alum chef Stefano Secchi's much-lauded restaurant has been awarded three stars from the New York Times and one from the Michelin Guide since its 2019 opening. The name redzora translates as "head of household," a tribute to those great Italian hosts (usually the family matriarchs) who hand-roll pasta. For that reason, housemade pasta is the star of this Flatiron favorite. 

Creations like the strozzapreti in tomato sauce with lobster and basil and the cappelletti verdi with leeks and mushroom purée (poetically named Grandma walking through the forest in Emilia) showcase Secchi's respect for authenticity. Serious pasta lovers can go for a five-course pasta-tasting menu, available for $98, plus optional wine pairings for $70. Speaking of wine, the list focuses on Italy, including a selection of unique vintage bottles.

Nostrana in Portland, Oregon

The name of this restaurant comes from the word "ours," reflecting the importance of locally-sourced ingredients in every dish served here. Six-time James Beard nominee Cathy Whims is the mastermind behind this Portland staple, combining her love for Italian food and Pacific Northwest products with astounding results.

Seasonality means that the menu changes frequently depending on what's available. Among the creations you may find are goat cheese-stuffed pappardelle with tomato-butter sauce and gnocchi alla Romana, both of which can be upgraded with a touch of prosciutto San Daniele; Tuscan seafood stew, and porchetta cooked with garlic, rosemary, and Chanti essence. Pizzas are an absolute highlight at Nostrana, prepared with handmade mozzarella and naturally-leavened dough. You can choose from a funghi verde, with assorted mushrooms, to a vongole piccante, inspired by Northeastern clam pies.

Paladar 511 in New Orleans

Italian flavors with a touch of Gulf seafood make this Marigny eatery equally comforting and daring. Opened in 2016 by Jack Murphy and Susan and Ed Dunn, the spot boasts high ceilings, communal tables, and an open kitchen that give it a warm, hospitable vibe. Menu highlights include grouper crudo with Louisiana strawberries and avocado, spring onion pizza with lardo and Parmesan, and on the pasta front, squid ink spaghetti with Gulf shrimp and Calabrian chile butter, and baked gnocchi with crab and artichokes.

When it comes to the wine list, Italy takes center stage, with some labels from Spain, Germany, and France also making an appearance. The fun cocktail menu pays tribute to Italy, with plenty of vermouth and amaro in the blends. The Bad Mr. Jive, for example, is made with rye, sweet vermouth, amaro, and aperitif.

Lucali in Brooklyn

The origin story behind this Carroll Gardens spot is a sweet one (pun intended). After learning that a candy store across the street from the building where his dad was born was going to close, self-declared "accidental pizzaiolo" Mark Iacono decided to take over the space's lease. Inspired by his love for his grandma's cooking and the pizza slices he ate growing up in Brooklyn, Iacono opened Lucali, an elegantly rustic spot that blurs the line between a pizzeria and a fine-dining establishment.

The short yet solid menu at Lucali focuses strictly on flawlessly-made pizza and calzones, topped with locally-sourced ingredients such as mushrooms, pepperoni, onions, and artichoke hearts. Wine pairings are up to the diner, as it's BYOB. Other details to remember: the restaurant doesn't take reservations or credit cards. Luckily for Miami residents, there is now a South Beach outpost, too.

Cotogna in San Francisco

Located in the historic Jackson Square area, Cotogna is the brainchild of chef Michael Tusk and his wife and partner Lindsay, and the sister restaurant to Quince, their fine-dining establishment right next door. At this romantic trattoria, the available produce from local farms dictates what will be on the menu each night. White pizza with black truffles; tagliolini with Dungeness crab, Meyer lemon, and green garlic; and tagliatelle al uovo with ragu are a few of the tempting options you may find on the dinner menu. Cotogna is also known for its roasted meats and seafood, thanks to the wood-burning oven and rotisserie in the kitchen, so keep an eye out for dishes like the stunning bistecca alla Fiorentina, served for two.

Brezza in Las Vegas

The newly-opened, massive Resorts World complex in Vegas is home to Brezza, which translates as "breeze" and seeks to offer a slow, leisurely approach to drinking and dining – think more dolce far niente, less sin city. The kitchen at Brezza is helmed by chef Nicole Brisson, a Vegas vet whose resume includes stints at the Wynn, Eataly, and Locale, which earned her a spot as a semifinalist at the 2020 James Beard awards. 

With seasonality and sustainability as priorities, chef Brisson's menu features an assortment of raw options, including tuna carpaccio and fresh oysters; salads like Caesar and heirloom Caprese; and pasta dishes that range from classic bucatini all'amatriciana to luxurious lobster campanelle. There are several powerful steaks to choose from, like a dry-aged tomahawk and Piedmontese filet. After a hearty feast, your best bet is to head out to the patio for a digestivo.

Lucia in Dallas

It's a tough reservation to score at this Bishop Arts District joint, and it's easy to understand why after the first few minutes inside its warm, romantic dining room. A strong cocktail (the dry martini is excellent) sets the mood for a parade of authentic flavors, courtesy of chef David Uygur, a five-time James Beard semifinalist. The restaurant got an Outstanding Restaurant nomination at this year's awards.

The constantly-rotating menu at Lucia is short and sweet, and no meal should start without a platter of the Chef's Choice Salumi, a selection of house-cured charcuterie served with warm focaccia, also baked in-house. Appetizers may include creations like marinated eggplants with hazelnuts, ricotta salata, and arugula, while fresh pasta options can feature tonarelli with garlic-herb butter and shrimp, or fusilli with spicy salumi ragu and stracciatella.

Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix

The story of this Phoenix pizza spot dates back to 1988 when chef and owner Chris Bianco opened its first iteration in a grocery store. Bianco's deep love and appreciation for local ingredients and the art of artisanal pizza-making eventually made him a reference in the pizza world. Several publications and countless critics and foodies have declared that Pizzeria Bianco has possibly the best pizza in the country.

Beloved pies at Bianco include the Biancoverde — with mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, ricotta, and arugula — and the Rosa — with red onion, rosemary, Parmigiano Reggiano, and local pistachios. The menu also features a couple of small plates, like spiedini (fontina cheese wrapped in prosciutto), and salads featuring fresh local produce.

Bianco's empire has expanded over the years: Pizzeria Bianco has two locations in Phoenix and one in Los Angeles, and Phoenix is also home to two Pane Bianco restaurants and Tratto, a fine-dining spot.

Bestia in Los Angeles

When husband-and-wife team Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis set out to open Bestia, the goal was to give it a familiar, handmade vibe, with house-made pizza, pasta, and charcuterie on the forefront. Menashe's culinary career has taken him to some of LA's top Italian eateries, like Pizzeria Mozza and Angelini Osteria, resulting in a menu that is packed with creativity and flavor. Find antipasti like roasted marrow bone with spinach gnocchetti and smoked breadcrumbs; pizzas topped with ingredients like 'nduja, mozzarella, fennel, green onions, and Calabrian chile oil; and entrées such as roasted lamb neck with smoked anchovy creme fraiche. On the pasta front, highlights include a squid ink chitarra with poached lobster and citrus. The dessert menu changes daily and showcases Genevieve's talent as a self-taught pastry chef, creating original sweets with fresh ingredients, like a creme fraiche panna cotta with strawberries.

The restaurant's name reflects the space's rough, industrial decor, with elements like marble, steel, tile, and meat-hook chandeliers. Warm lighting and a welcoming open kitchen serve as a softer counterpart, as does the copper bar, where excellent craft cocktails are served nightly.

Esther's Kitchen in Las Vegas

A Las Vegas native, chef James Trees grew up eating Italian food with his best friend Alfio and his family. It was his tough, loving great-aunt Esther who boosted his passion for cooking and helped him pursue his dream of opening a restaurant. His history comes alive at this Arts District restaurant, where West Coast ingredients combine beautifully with Italian tradition.

At Esther's, the housemade sourdough bread is served with an assortment of spreads, like anchovy butter with capers and parsley or basil ricotta with herbs and basil oil. Sourdough is also the base for the house pizza, including one topped with Brussels sprouts, fontina, rosemary, and fingerling potatoes.

Entrées change seasonally and can include creations like arancini all'amatriciana or veal osso bucco. The housemade pasta is a great excuse to show off fresh ingredients, as seen on the rigatoni with black kale-almond pesto, or the comforting butternut squash tortellini, with brown butter, hazelnut, creme fraiche, and espresso.

Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder

Standing between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps, Italy's Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is the inspiration behind this Boulder restaurant, developed by partners Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, Bobby Stuckey, and Peter Hoglund. The name comes from frascas, casual eateries scattered across the region, where locals would gather to share food, wine, and conversation. To find your neighborhood frasca, the safest bet would be to look for a tree branch hanging over the doorway, representing local food and hospitality. This warm, welcoming environment gets an upgrade at Boulder's Frasca, with elegantly-presented dishes and flawless service.

The experience at Frasca revolves around a four-course menu, with highlights like steelhead trout with strawberry vinegar on the antipasti front, and an eye-catching Piramidi pasta dish: delicate red beet ravioli with burrata, peas, and goat butter. The dry-aged ribeye with white asparagus, bone marrow, and hazelnut is a powerhouse among the entrées, and when it comes to desserts, the Mela — a caramel apple with calvados and quince — presents a lovely ending. For the ultimate Frasca journey, order the seven-course Friuliano menu. Both tasting menus can include wine pairings, showcasing the restaurant's spectacular wine program, which has earned it two James Beard nominations for Outstanding Wine Program.

Via Carota in New York City

With endless charm and authentic flavors, this West Village trattoria by chefs Jody Williams and Rita Sodi honors Italy's traditions by creating dishes that allow seasonal ingredients to shine. The ideal way to kick off the meal at Via Carota is to take a trip across Italy via the beverage list, featuring a curated wine selection, an extensive selection of grappa and amaro, as well as several Negroni variations. The food menu changes constantly, and the latest version features a variety of vegetable-based dishes, like carciofi crudi (raw artichokes with avocado and Parmigiano), and broccoli rabe with garlic and chives. When it comes to pasta, beauty is found in simplicity, with options like pappardelle with wild boar ragu and risotto with Meyer lemon. The main courses include fried rabbit with garlic and rosemary and grilled octopus with green olive pesto. The meal at Via Carota ends with beloved classics, such as zabaione and panna cotta.

The delightful space boasts plenty of rustic beauty, with reclaimed wood floors, chairs from an English chapel, and vintage china that transport guests to the 17th-century villa in the Tuscan hills where Sodi once lived, and which inspired the spirit of Via Carota, one of the most coveted and renowned restaurants in town. In fact, it's a semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant at this year's James Beard Awards.

Monteverde in Chicago

Centuries-old Italian traditions blend with chef Sarah Grueneberg's family heritage and world travels at this West Loop restaurant, recently included in The World's 50 Best Restaurants Discovery category. The dining room blends industrial elements with sophisticated decor, yet there's one detail that most diners will notice before anything else: the fresh pasta drying on the pasta station. That's because Monteverde is a restaurant and pastificio, guided under the philosophy that "flour is power." This shows on the pasta dishes, divided into pasta tipica, featuring traditional options like agnolotti with roasted veal and beef or gnocchetti con pesto and housemade ricotta, and pasta atipica, with daring creations like a cacio whey pepe, with ricotta whey.

This same combination of Italian tradition, Midwestern ingredients, and inventiveness shows on the shareable appetizers, which include a platter of burrata and prosciutto San Daniele served with pineapple-mango-kiwi mustard and basil. In true Italian fashion, vegetables are major players at the Monteverde kitchen, and in fact, Grueneberg published the cookbook "Listen to your Vegetables" last year, sharing plenty of Italian-inspired veggie recipes.

Vetri Cucina in Philadelphia

For more than two decades, a beautiful historic townhouse has served as a temple for Italian flavors and culture. Under chef Marc Vetri, who worked in Italy for several years, the team serves a spectacular four-course tasting menu experience (Quattro Piatti, for $165) that takes diners on a journey across Italy with touches of global flavors and techniques.

Created with seasonal, local, and specialty ingredients, the menu at Vetri features an antipasto, a pasta course, an entrée, and a dessert, plus a cocktail and an amuse-bouche to get things started. Your menu may include dishes such as venison carpaccio with roasted leeks and smoked creme fraiche, paccheri with clams and sea beans, dover sole with radishes, capers, and white wine butter, and pineapple tarte tatin with pine nuts and vanilla gelato. Whether you choose to have the tasting menu with pairings, or to sip wine by the glass, the experience is bound to be remarkable, as Vetri's cellars hold more than 2,500 wine bottles, representing every Italian region and some of the world's major producing regions.

Throughout its history, Vetri has received more than a dozen James Beard nominations and now boasts a second location in Las Vegas at the Palms Casino Resort.