America’s Best Cities for Italian Food Slideshow
May 13, 2016
If you live in one of these cities and love Italian food, consider yourself lucky
America’s Best Cities for Italian Food
If you love Italian food, these cities have the highest concentration of great Italian restaurants of any American cities.
Hartford has a high concentration of Italians (tens of thousands came over and settled in the Front Street neighborhood in the early 1900s, and were resettled in the South End when the neighborhood was replaced with Constitution Plaza in the 1950s), making for an unusually high percentage of very good Italian restaurants, bakeries, and shops. Mozzicato DePasquale is a legendary pastry shop, and must-visit restaurants in town include Carbone’s (don’t miss the hand-made pasta), Salute, Sorella, and Vito’s by the Park.
Providence’s Federal Hill neighborhood isn’t just a renowned Little Italy; it’s one of the best neighborhoods for food in the country, with many Italian restaurants that have been around for 60 years or more. Classic Italian joints in the neighborhood include Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen, Andino’s, Caserta Pizzeria, and Angelo’s (since 1924), but no Italian tour of Providence is complete without a visit to the upscale and timeless Al Forno, renowned as the birthplace of grilled pizza.
About three-quarters of the residents of St. Louis’ 50-square-block The Hill (its legendary Little Italy) are Italian (it’s also the birthplace of Yogi Berra), and the neighborhood is (not surprisingly) home to some truly legendary Italian restaurants. Mama’s on the Hill is the reputed birthplace of the local favorite toasted ravioli, and other local standbys (great Italian isn’t just relegated to The Hill any more) include Giovanni’s, Lorenzo’s, Trattoria Marcella, Zia’s, and Acero.
Not only is Las Vegas home to some of America’s most gleaming and pricey Italian restaurants inside the hotels on The Strip, run by some legendary chefs, there are also plenty of neighborhood joints that are definitely worthy of praise. On the flashy end of the spectrum, there’s Carnevino, a bustling and upscale Italian steakhouse run by the unstoppable duo of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich inside the Palazzo (their B&B is also a standout in the Venetian), and Costa di Mare, which offers 40 different varieties of fresh fish flown in from Italian coastal waters daily. Off The Strip, don’t miss local standbys Ferraro’s, Nora’s, and Piero’s.
Philadelphia is the home base of one of America’s foremost Italian chefs, Mark Vetri, who runs his acclaimed eponymous restaurant as well as standouts including Osteria, Alla Spina, and Lo Speido. While Vetri has singlehandedly raised the Italian dining bar in Philadelphia, the city would still be one of America’s top Italian restaurant destinations without him. With America’s third-highest concentration of Italian-Americans, standouts in the city include The Victor Café, Spasso, and Amis.
Boston’s North End is one of America’s most thriving Little Italys, with more than 80 restaurants and pastry shops located in the square-mile neighborhood. Mike’s Pastry and Regina Pizzeria are must-visits, and other acclaimed North End restaurants include Giacomo’s, Galleria Umberto, Panza, and Lucca. Venturing outside of the neighborhood, Lydia Shire’s Scampo in the Liberty Hotel is one of the city’s absolute best restaurants.
Los Angeles may not have much of a Little Italy per se, but it’s still home to an astonishing array of excellent Italian restaurants, as can be expected in a city of this size. Aside from the usual assortment of (very good) red sauce joints like Dan Tana’s, restaurants including Bestia, Vincenti Ristorante, Osteria Mozza, chi SPACCA, and Valentino in Santa Monica are raising Italian fare to new heights.
Head to Chicago and you’ll find no shortage of spectacular Italian restaurants of every stripe. From great deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s and Pizzeria Uno (and great thin-crust pizza at spots like to Coalfire, Macello, and Vito & Nick’s) to new-wave hotspots like Davanti Enoteca and Balena, the sheer variety of wonderful Italian restaurants is mind-boggling. Tony Mantuano’s Michelin-starred Spiaggia sits at the top of the heap.
San Francisco is at the heart of the movement to eat local and seasonal that’s taken the country by storm thanks to powerhouses like Chez Panisse and Zuni Café, and its top Italian restaurants perfectly exemplify that ethos. It’s home to some of the finest Neapolitan pizzerias in the country, including Pizzerla Delfina, Una Pizza Napoletana, and Flour + Water, and restaurants including Quince, Aquarello, Cotogna, and Perbacco are serving Italian-inspired creations that will have you planning your next visit before you even leave. And if you’re craving classic red sauce fare, Original Joe’s will take care of that for you.
New York is, in many ways, America’s great Italian city, and the influence of the hundreds of thousands of Italians who emigrated there around the turn of the twentieth century can be felt across all five boroughs. If you want to sample some amazing Italian food, however, you should counterintuitively avoid what’s left of Manhattan’s Little Italy; it’s a tourist trap with nothing but middling red-sauce spots and souvenir shops. Instead, head out to the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue for a meal at Zero Otto Nove; sample some life-altering pizza at institutions like Totonno’s, Patsy’s, and Di Fara (or stellar Neapolitan pizza at Motorino and Roberta’s); grab a great sandwich at Parm or visit a classic trattoria like Al Di La; or tap into your savings at the country’s most renowned upscale Italian restaurants, like Marea, Il Buco, Babbo, and Del Posto.