Many Sicilian immigrants began moving to Louisiana in the late 1800s. For some time, what we now know as the French Quarter was considered “Little Italy” due to the growing population of Italians. In a city like New Orleans where food is celebrated, people of today are nothing but grateful for the legacy of Italian restaurants that were left behind.
Vincent’s Italian Cuisine is among the most reputable Italian restaurants in the city. The house specialty is the cannelloni which is a homemade pasta stuffed with veal, spinach, and parmesan cheese served over alfredo and topped with red sauce. With one location in Metairie and the other on St. Charles, there’s no way you should pass up a taste of carefully prepared veal and stuffed shrimp in pastry.
The Olive Branch Café has been dubbed the place to go for gourmet Italian pizza. A Westbank favorite for over 10 years, this restaurant offers pies with fresh ingredients alongside salads and hearty pastas like lasagna. Everything is made fresh to order so that each customer knows their meal made with love.
La Divina Gelateria is the only place in Louisiana that makes its own gelato from scratch. All four locations serve a variety of different flavors of gelato that has famous chefs like John Besh and Rachel Ray singing its praises. This restaurant prides itself in using only fresh, local, and organic ingredients for their paninis, soups, and salads. Anyone eating here will definitely taste the ‘Divina Difference!’
Amici Ristorante & Bar is a local favorite among many. Located in the Garden District on Magazine, this Sicilian-inspired restaurant offers an array of pastas, salads, and desserts. What makes this eatery unique is the coal-fired oven used to give its pizza a beautifully charred crust that quickly crisps as the authentic ‘red gravy’ becomes one with perfectly melted cheese and fresh toppings.
Lobster and scallops at Amici (credit: Facebook/Amici Ristorante & Bar)
Café Giovanni on Decatur is owned and operated by award winning Chef Duke LoCicero. The menu is full of hand crafted Italian delicacies with a New Orleans twist. The Southern Style Louisiana Voodoo Shrimp has won numerous awards for taste, pairing, and presentation. Fine dining wouldn’t be complete without live entertainment; luckily this establishment offers a classical assortment of opera and other musical selections on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
6. Red Gravy
Red Gravy is the perfect place to go for a little slice of Italian breakfast. Opening its doors on Camp Street in 2010, their popular brunch menu has items like Belgian waffles topped with seasonal spiced fruit and syrup, or your choice of eggs with fresh Italian meats and sautéed peppers. Although the owner isn’t a New Orleans native, she fits in with the family-oriented culture of the city with creative dishes named after her family members.
The Specialty Italian Bistro is another popular Italian eatery on the Westbank. Customers can’t seem to get enough of the over-stuffed manicotti and sandwiches made on bread that is baked daily right in the kitchen. What really makes this place so special is the delivery service: you don’t even have to leave your living room for delicious gourmet meals.
8. Dolce Vita
Dolce Vita is the Cinderella story of Italian restaurants. Co-owner and executive chef Bogdan Mocanu became well known for his food truck that brought gourmet pizza to the streets of Baton Rouge. Many have claimed his crust to be addictive. Now, if you want to try Napoli style pizza pies from a wood-fire oven, you’ll have to get them from the restaurant located on St. Charles Ave.
Spinach Salad from Dolce Vita (credit: dvpizzeria.com)
East of Italy is located on the Lakefront in New Orleans tucked away inside of a strip mall. Most customers are surprised that a seemingly rinky dink place could produce such quality food. The menu consists of a wide selection of pizzas and sandwiches. All of the bread is baked fresh daily and only the freshest ingredients are used. The garlic cheese bread is one East of Italy's best items.
Ditalis Pizza Café has the well-being of its customers in mind. Its location on Manhattan Blvd has a partnership with a local registered dietician to give the menu healthier options such as the citrus Italian salad. Anyone who isn’t counting calories can indulge in ‘Mama’s Spaghetti and Meatballs’ or the delicious ‘Xango Fried Cheesecake.’