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The Best Italian Restaurants in America

Great Italian food can be found across the country
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The Italian restaurant in America has changed in style quite a bit over the past several decades. Up until quite recently, the term "Italian restaurant" may have conjured images of red and white checkered tablecloths, carafes of chianti, and a red-sauce-heavy menu. But a variety of Italian restaurants have emerged onto the scene, and from Michelin-starred temples to holes in the wall serving world-class pizza, we've rounded up America's 50 best.

Methodology

Methodology

Wing Y./Yelp

To assemble this ranking, we looked at our lists of the 101 best restaurants in America as well as the 101 best casual restaurants in America, which we release early every year. To build those rankings we recruited a panel of judges that included some of the country’s top food writers, critics and bloggers to take a survey and vote for the best of the best restaurants from across the country. The final rankings included a significant number of Italian restaurants, and this ranking took those restaurants into account as well as ones included in recent roundups of the best Italian restaurant in every state, the best pasta dish in every state and the best pizza in every state.

All of these restaurants fit a certain criteria: impeccable, un-snooty service; high-quality food sourced from the finest purveyors; creative-yet-classic preparation and craftsmanship; and an overall experience that leaves you happy and content in the fact that you just ate a world-class meal.

#50 Broders' Pasta Bar (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

#50 Broders' Pasta Bar (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Two H./Yelp

Ever since Molly and Tom Broder opened their “pasta bar” in 1994, the crowds have never stopped coming. Why? Easy: the pasta is absolutely astounding. Nearly 20 pastas and risottos are on the menu, ranging from risotto with smoked mozzarella and mushroom ragu to paccheri with braised short rib, gnocchi with duck cacciatore and stringozzi with lobster and roasted squash.

#49 Al di Là (Brooklyn, New York)

#49 Al di Là (Brooklyn, New York)

Hideki M./Yelp

Chef Anna Klinger and husband Emiliano Coppa opened the Venetian-inspired Al di Là on Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue in 1998, at a time when most Manhattanites weren't especially interested in heading into Brooklyn for dinner. But by the time then-New York Times critic Frank Bruni gave the trattoria two stars in 2006, it was widely regarded as the neighborhood’s best restaurant, and helped to transform the dining scene on the now-thriving avenue. Klinger’s menu of home-style appetizers, pastas and braised and grilled meats rarely changes, but that's fine with us. Try the tagliatelle al ragu and charcoal-grilled young chicken.

#48 Carbone (New York, New York)

#48 Carbone (New York, New York)

Wendy K./Yelp

At this venture from Major Food Group, the pastas thrill. Consider the linguine vongole, the tortellini al ragu and a fantastic spicy rigatoni vodka. The lobster fra diavolo, pork chop and peppers and cherry pepper ribs are masterfully prepared. Carbone takes seriously the task of upscaling Italian-American classics like chicken scarpariello and veal parmigiana. Carbone has of charm thanks to its massive menus, tile floors and waiters in burgundy tuxedos, making it one of the best old-school restaurants in America.

#47 Apizza Scholls (Portland, Oregon)

#47 Apizza Scholls (Portland, Oregon)

Cheng-Tsung L./Yelp

Apizza Scholls serves some of the best pizza in the Pacific Northwest. But if you want to assemble your own pie, keep in mind that only three ingredients and no more than two meats per pie are permitted. Apizza Scholls offers a wide variety of toppings including anchovies, red onions, garlic, pepperoni, house-made sausage, house-cured Canadian bacon, cotto salami, arugula, pepperoncini and truffle oil, that rule may be more difficult to adhere to than it appears. You can also take your pick from a variety of specialty pizzas.

#46 Trattoria Lucca (Charleston, South Carolina)

#46 Trattoria Lucca (Charleston, South Carolina)

Bill S./Yelp

Chef-owner Ken Vedrinski, a 2011 James Beard Award nominee, changes his menu often based on what he finds at the farmers market and what local fishermen bring to his kitchen. Pastas are handmade, cheese and salumi are imported from Italy.

#45 Giovanni’s (Detroit, Michigan)

#45 Giovanni’s (Detroit, Michigan)

Samantha C./Yelp

In business since 1968, Giovanni’s is full of old-school, red-sauce-infused charm. Many of the recipes here date back to the early days, when owner Frances Cannarsa Truant (her father’s name was Giovanni) worked with the original chef to replicate the flavors of her family’s native San Marino. The menu here is about as classic as it gets — fried calamari, minestrone, linguine with clams, fettuccine Bolognese, meat lasagna, chicken piccata or Marsala, beef braciole, eggplant parmigiana — with all breads, pastas and sauces made in-house. 

#44 Patsy's Pizzeria (New York City, New York)

#45 Patsy's Pizzeria (New York, New York)

Sara L./Yelp

Pasquale "Patsy" Lancieri opened Patsy's in Easy Harlem in 1933, and it's still serving pizzas that are essentially perfect in a classic old-school dining room. The pizza here is light enough that you can easily eat three or four slices in a sitting, and you’ll want to because of its slight smokiness from the coal, perfect topping distribution, high-quality ingredients and addictively crisp crust. It’s a spectacular pizza, from one of America’s greatest old-school pizzerias.

#43 Motorino (New York City, New York)

#44 Motorino (New York, New York)
Jane Bruce/ The Daily Meal

Mathieu Palombino’s Neapolitan-style pies have become so beloved in New York that he’s since opened two additional New York locations, five in Asia and one in Dubai. In New York, Motorino serves 15 impressive pies, including one with cremini mushrooms, fior di latte cheese, sweet sausage and garlic, another with cherrystone clams, and one with stracciatella cheese and Gaeta olives. But don't be afraid to order the Brussels sprout pie, in which the vegetable is joined by fior di latte, garlic, pecorino, smoked pancetta and olive oil, and gets pleasingly charred. Don't miss the special seasonal ramp pie in the spring; it’s one of the best pizzas you’ll find anywhere.

#42 Trattoria Marcella (St. Louis, Missouri)

#43 Trattoria Marcella (St. Louis, Missouri)

D L./Yelp

St. Louis has plenty of great Italian restaurants, but Trattoria Marcella is in a league of its own. Founded by Steve and Jamie Komorek in 1995, the restaurant serves impressive takes on traditional Italian fare like chicken and asparagus risotto, homemade spaghetti and meatballs, beef tenderloin with Barolo roasted garlic sauce and veal Marsala. Most impressively of all, nothing on the menu costs more than $24.

#41 Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen (Memphis, Tennessee)

#42 Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen (Memphis, Tennessee)

Jocelyn A./Yelp

Friends Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman opened Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis in late 2008, and they're still creating Italian/Southern American fusion masterpieces there. The two chefs credit their grandmothers for inspiration, but their culinary expertise extends far beyond that. You'll want to try the bucatini carbonara, maw maw's ravioli with meat gravy and lamb with mushroom ragu and asparagus.

#40 Flour + Water (San Francisco, California)

#41 Flour + Water (San Francisco, California)

Dean C./Yelp

This San Francisco restaurant, which opened in 2009, uses Northern California ingredients to turn out pizzas and housemade pastas inspired by the regional cooking traditions of Italy. The menu changes daily based on what’s in-season, but you can expect thoughtful dishes like veal carpaccio with maitake conserva, pizza topped with pork sausage and mustard greens, black garlic and squash tortellini, beet and duck fattisu with apple mostarda and a large-format dish like veal Milanese with smoked potatoes.

#39 Fiola (Washington, D.C.)

#40 Fiola (Washington, D.C.)

Sherry F./Yelp

Chef Fabio Trabocchi and his upscale D.C. restaurant Fiola have won countless accolades (including a 2020 Michelin star), and all you need to do is look at the menu to see why. It changes daily based on what’s fresh and in-season. Sample menu items include tuna crudo with caviar and red king prawn, hand-cut tagliatelle with foraged mushrooms, and charcoal-grilled venison with braised endive and preserved huckleberry. Can’t decide what to order? Opt for one of the tasting menus.

#38 Totonno's (Brooklyn, New York)

#39 Totonno's (Brooklyn, New York)

JohnnyPrimeC. C./Yelp

Opened in Coney Island way back in 1924 and still going strong, Totonno’s represents a bridge between the traditional Old World Neapolitan style and today's traditional New York slices. And with coal-blistered edges, spotty mozzarella and a red sauce, the pies served here are works of art. With black-and-white tile floors and tin ceilings, the place itself is a time capsule as well. Approaching 100 years old and still going strong, it’s one of America’s oldest restaurants.

#37 Osteria (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

#38 Osteria (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Rachel O./Yelp

Osteria is a big, lively place where the pizzas are terrific (try the one topped with egg, Bitto cheese and garlic) and the cooking is homey but first-rate, with items like candele with wild boar bolognese, wood-fired chicken with delicata squash and a 32-ounce fiorentina rib-eye for two. Warm and inviting, Osteria has racked up countless accolades since opening in 2007, including a 2010 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic for its chef, Jeff Michaud.

#36 Il Posto (Denver, Colorado)

#37 Il Posto (Denver, Colorado)

Kelsey M./Yelp

Il Posto chef and owner Andrea Frizzi, originally from Milan, incorporates local ingredients and imported Italian ingredients into a menu of inspired fare. You should start with lobster gnocchi with fennel cream or a luscious corn and speck risotto. Then move on to an entree of duck breast with squash flan and Robiola. Pork belly with parsnip and milk-apple glaze is another intriguing option.

#35 Di Fara (Brooklyn, New York)

#36 Di Fara (Brooklyn, New York)

Spencer S./Yelp

Domenico DeMarco is New York pizza royalty, and he's owned and operated Di Fara since 1964. New York- and Sicilian-style pies are made by hand by Dom, pulled from the oven with his bare hands and topped with fresh basil and a glug of olive oil in full view of the hordes who come to try his pizzas; this definitely counts as entertainment. Lines for this restaurant can be hours long, as pizzas are made one at a time, but Di Fara is among the restaurants worth waiting in line for.

#34 Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix, Arizona)

#35 Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix, Arizona)

Maggie X./Yelp

The pizzas at this legendary Phoenix restaurant catapulted chef Chris Bianco to pizza stardom, largely because the pizzas here are about as good as it gets. Try the Rosa, with red onions, rosemary and pistachios, but if it's your first visit, the signature Margherita, with its simple tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil, is the one to try.

#33 Nico Osteria (Chicago, Illinois)

#34 Nico Osteria (Chicago, Illinois)
Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal

Legendary Chicago chef/restaurateur Paul Kahan may be gone from Nico Osteria, but it’s still one of the best restaurants for Italian-inspired seafood in the country. Standouts from the menu include hamachi with eggplant caponata and dark chocolate, grilled fish collar with red onion agrodolce, lobster amatriciana and a whole grilled spice-rubbed branzino.

#32 Cafe Juanita (Kirkland, Washington)

#33 Cafe Juanita (Kirkland, Washington)

Fong L./Yelp

2008 Best Chef: Northwest James Beard Award winner Holly Smith’s neighborhood eatery Cafe Juanita focuses on Northern Italian cuisine elevated to fine-dining heights. The menu changes frequently, but there’s always an emphasis on local produce, meats and seafood as well as high-end imported Italian ingredients. Alaskan king crab with green apple sorbetto and crab butter powder, hand-cut tajarin with Idaho white sturgeon caviar, and braised rabbit with porcini and pancetta are just a few of the items you’ll find on the menu at this restaurant that, from the outside at least, resembles a residential home.

#31 Delfina (San Francisco, California)

#32 Delfina (San Francisco, California)

Wing Y./Yelp

Craig and Anne Stoll helped usher in a new era for San Francisco’s Mission District when they opened the groundbreaking Delfina in 1998. Fresh pastas, including tagliatelle al ragu, paccheri all’amalfitana with local rock cod and spaghetti with a simple tomato, sauce are the claim to fame, but other dishes including grilled Monterey Bay calamari and roasted chicken with hen of the woods mushrooms and olive oil mashed potatoes are exemplars of Northern California cuisine.

#30 Roberta's (Brooklyn, New York)

#31 Roberta's (Brooklyn, New York)

Peter D./Yelp

Back in January 2008, the area around newly opened Roberta's (in the neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn) was essentially a no man’s land. The area has since transformed, and Roberta's played no small role in that. Roberta’s remains an iconic pizzeria, because no matter what you order, you’re guaranteed a chewy crust and a near-perfect Neapolitan-style pie.

#29 Al Forno (Providence, Rhode Island)

#30 Al Forno (Providence, Rhode Island)

Austin B./Yelp

Located in the heart of Providence, Rhode Island, Al Forno offers an essentially perfect Italian dining experience. Husband-and-wife owner-chefs George Germon (who passed away a few years ago) and Johanne Killeen created a restaurant that serves delicious pastas and entrees, but they're perhaps best known for their invention of the grilled pizza, a regional dish we bet you haven’t heard of, which is grilled over hardwood charcoal fire. Al Forno’s most notable grilled pizza is the Margarita, which is topped with fresh herbs, dollops of tomato sauce, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil.

#28 Vincenti Ristorante (Los Angeles, California)

#29 Vincenti Ristorante (Los Angeles, California)

M V./Yelp

Maureen Vincenti’s Brentwood eatery, going strong since 1997, is an old-fashioned Italian classic. The menu is comforting and traditional, with pastas including house-made fusilli with Sonoma lamb ragu and squid ink risotto with shrimp and asparagus. Wood-burning-oven entrées include whole roasted Dover sole, a veal T-bone and rotisserie Sonoma County duck. The thin-crust pizzas (served only on Mondays) are some of the best around.

#27 Monteverde (Chicago)

#27 Monteverde (Chicago)

William Y./Yelp

Chef Sarah Grueneberg spent time as executive chef at Chicago’s renowned Spiaggia before opening Monteverde in Chicago’s West Loop in 2015. Grueneberg won the James Beard Award in 2017, which came as no surprise to those who've dined there. The vibe is upbeat and lively, and diners can watch many of the pastas being made by hand. Seemingly simple pasta dishes are elevated to new heights, and this is one of those restaurants where literally everything on the menu looks — and tastes — delicious. In fact, Monteverde is one of the best restaurants in America right now.

#26 Bistro don Giovanni (Napa, California)

#27 Bistro don Giovanni (Napa, California)

Mark F./Yelp

Bistro Don Giovanni is very warm. The service is warm and inviting and there is also the physical warmth of fireside dining — there are two traditional wood-burning fireplaces, one in the enclosed terrace and one in the main dining room. But the true warmth emanating from Bistro don Giovanni, which has been delighting visitors for more than 20 years, has always come from owner Giovanni Scala. The menu features simple pizzas and pastas, sustainably farmed local fruits, vegetables and organic meats. A visit here is one of the best ways to wrap up a day in one of the most romantic places in America.

#25 ll Buco Alimentari & Vineria (New York, New York)

#26 ll Buco Alimentari & Vineria (New York, New York)

Helen C./Yelp

Since 1994, Il Buco has been one of New York’s most appealing Italian restaurants, serving unpretentious, homestyle fare based on first-rate American and Italian ingredients. In 2011, the proprietors opened this more casual sister restaurant — a loose translation of Alimentari & Vineria is "food shop and wine bar" — and it's so lively, with such vivid, hearty food, that it has all but overshadowed the original. It’s open for breakfast and lunch, and you can buy bread, cheese, gelato, housemade charcuterie and Italian products, but stay for dinner and you’ll encounter items like roasted clams with herbs and garlic, octopus with creamy polenta, bucatini cacio e pepe, porchetta and roasted short ribs for two. Splurge on the bread with three recent vintages of olive oil.

#24 City House (Nashville, Tennessee)

#24 City House (Nashville, Tennessee)

Aubrey W./Yelp

Chef Tandy Wilson, and his restaurant, City House, blazed onto the Nashville scene in 2007 and never looked back, picking up a 2016 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast. Wilson’s fusion of Italian and Southern cuisine struck a chord, and hordes started descending on the then-decidedly un-hip Germantown neighborhood. Drop in for dinner and you’ll see what all the buzz has been about via dishes like a corncake with smashed field peas, charred lemon gremolata; a must-order pizza with belly ham, mozzarella and chiles; and cornmeal-crusted catfish with grits, smoked tomato and cabbage ragu.

#23 Valter’s Osteria (Salt Lake City, Utah)

#25 Valter’s Osteria (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Tom D./Yelp

Valter Nassi is always working the room at his eponymous restaurant, where his lineup of Tuscan classics (many of which were inspired by his mother's recipes) keep the crowds coming. Don't miss the Rigatoni al Sugo Della Mamma, rigatoni with a tomato-based porcini and meat sauce. Other standouts include fennel-crusted duck breast in cognac and grape sauce; sweet Italian sausage with grilled calamari, scallops and shrimp; and pork tenderloin scallopini with porcini ragu and red wine sauce.

#22 Vincenzo’s (Louisville, Kentucky)

#24 Vincenzo’s (Louisville, Kentucky)

Vincenzo’s /Yelp

Chef Agostino Gabriele has been cooking professionally for nearly 60 years, and has been leading the kitchen at Vincenzo's since the restaurant opened in 1986. Along with his brother Vincenzo, he’s turned the restaurant into one of Louisville's most venerable culinary institutions. Gabriele's skills are on full display in dishes like mascarpone ravioli filled with grilled chicken, spinach and mushrooms; risotto with fresh seafood in a spicy red clam sauce and veal medallions stuffed with smoked gouda and pancetta in a Madeira sauce. Be sure to consider a made-to-order soufflé for dessert.

#21 Razza (Jersey City, New Jersey)

#23 Razza (Jersey City, New Jersey)

Tyler R./Yelp

Razza opened in late 2012 in Jersey City and became locally renowned for its wood-fired pizzas from chef-owner Dan Richer. Richer's crust is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, and his toppings are impeccable. For example, he had to wait years for a herd of water buffalo in New Jersey to grow large enough to ensure a steady supply of the notoriously difficult-to-perfect buffalo mozzarella. For his sauce he gathers the latest vintages of canned tomatoes from California, New Jersey and Italy, blind-tastes and grades them, then blends them like fine wine. 

#20 Macchialina (Miami Beach, Florida)

#22 Macchialina (Miami Beach, Florida)

Giovanny G./Yelp

Chef Michael Pirolo spent time at some of Italy’s top restaurants before opening Macchialina in 2012. The menu is primarily antipasti and homemade pastas. Standouts include polenta with duck ragu, cavatelli with meatballs and porchetta, burrata ravioli with cherry tomatoes and basil breadcrumbs, and veal parmigiana.

#19 Sally’s Apizza (New Haven, Connecticut)

#21 Sally’s Apizza (New Haven, Connecticut)

Joy C./Yelp

Sally's Apizza opened in the late 1930s in Wooster Square, and it's still turning out classic New Haven-style pizzas from the same coal-fired oven. These pies are thin crust, chewy, slightly charred and a little bit oblong. The tomato pie here (tomato sauce, no cheese) is a work of art, and the pie topped with mozzarella and thinly sliced potato and onion is also a masterpiece. Like other New Haven pizza joints, this is one of those rare tourist trap restaurants even the locals love.

#18 Bottega (Birmingham, Alabama)

#20 Café Bottega (Birmingham, Alabama)

Augusto R./Yelp

For nearly 40 years, chef Frank Stitt has consistently raised the bar in Alabama’s culinary scene. The impressive array of culinary talents who have launched their own successful careers after spending time in his kitchen speaks volumes (so too does that James Beard Award). At Bottega, he merges the flavors of the Italian countryside and the American South with stunning results. Don’t miss the parmesan souffle with prosciutto and mushrooms, beef cheek and farro risotto, spaghetti with shellfish, or venison with grilled carrots and pomegranate molasses.

#17 Arancino di Mare (Honolulu, Hawaii)

#19 Arancino di Mare (Honolulu, Hawaii)

Cathy H./Yelp

Waikiki Beach's Arancino di Mare is renowned for its flawless pasta dishes and super-fresh local seafood. Standouts include antipasti di pesce with Kauai red shrimp and a variety of other shellfish; scallop carpaccio topped with sea asparagus, tobiko caviar and red onions; spaghetti tossed with a simple garlic tomato sauce and topped with a bounty of octopus, scallops, calamari, clams, mussels and shrimp; spaghetti with fresh uni in a garlic wine cream sauce; and a 32-ounce bistecca alla fiorentina. Not only is this restaurant fantastic, but it’s also one of the most romantic restaurants in America.

#16 Marea (New York, New York)

#18 Marea (New York, New York)

Ivan K./Yelp

When it opened in 2009, Marea was immediately acclaimed as one of the most original and consistent and wonderful upscale Manhattan restaurants in recent memory. This very handsome establishment on Central Park South specializes in fresh fish and shellfish in Italian-inspired preparations by skilled chef and restaurateur Michael White. Try the crostini with lardo and Santa Barbara sea urchin or the fusilli with red wine braised octopus and bone marrow — the latter of which is one of the most iconic dishes in America.

#15 Domenica (New Orleans, Louisiana)

#17 Domenica (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Keith M./Yelp

The elegant Domenica, located in New Orleans’ Roosevelt Hotel (the birthplace of one of America’s favorite cocktails, the Sazerac), is a darn good restaurant, and chef Corey Thomas is putting a New Orleans spin on traditional Italian cuisine. The menu boasts 11 pizzas, including the Calabrese (tomato, spicy salami, mozzarella, capers, olives), Roasted Pork (roast pork, mozzarella, red onion, Anaheim peppers, salsa verde) and Tutto Carne (salami, bacon and fennel sausage). There’s also a wide variety of house-cured salumi, pastas including tagliatelle with slow-cooked rabbit and porcini mushrooms, and entrées that include Gulf fish with root vegetables and black garlic. Make sure you save room for desserts like banana zuppa inglese and gianduja budino.

#14 Costa di Mare (Las Vegas, Nevada)

#16 Costa di Mare (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Al L./Yelp

Even though Las Vegas is (very) landlocked, Costa di Mare, located in the Wynn, might as well be nestled in a coastal village overlooking the Adriatic. Fresh fish and shellfish (including purple snapper, orata and Mediterranean slipper lobster) are flown in daily from Italy and served whole and live langoustines in four sizes are a menu centerpiece (ranging in price from $32-$45 apiece). The fresh pastas are delicious (try the oven-baked spaghetti with shrimp, spiny lobster, clams, mussels, scallops and flying squid) and the prices are astronomical. 

#13 Cotogna (San Francisco, California)

#15 Cotogna (San Francisco, California)

Julie W./Yelp

A casual complement to chef Michael Tusk’s adjoining Quince (“cotogna” is “quince” in Italian), Cotogna is a casual, sun-filled, brick-walled dining room where a daily-changing menu of wood-oven pizzas, pastas and grilled and spit-roasted meats come out of the open kitchen. All meat, cheese and produce come from local purveyors. Don’t miss the ricotta ravioli with farm egg and brown butter, grilled Wolfe Ranch quail with farro verde and pomegranate or the simple and perfect agnolotti del plin, which thankfully doesn’t leave the menu — we named it among the best pasta dishes in the United States.

#12 Frank Pepe (New Haven, Connecticut)

#14 Frank Pepe (New Haven, Connecticut)

Mimi T./Yelp

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is one of the American restaurants you simply need to visit. The New Haven icon opened in 1925, and when it moved into a new space next door shortly thereafter it became (at the time) the largest pizzeria in America. The pizzas here are perfect examples of the New Haven regional style: oblong, charred (it's a good thing, trust us), thin-crusted, chewy and coal-fired. There are 11 locations in the Northeast, and the owners have faithfully replicated the original coal oven, brick-by-brick, at each of them. Don't miss its famed clam pie: it's topped with fresh littleneck clams, garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and it's a true masterpiece. In fact, it’s No. 1 on our list of the 101 best pizzas in America.

#11 Oliveto (Oakland, California)

#13 Oliveto (Oakland, California)

Dianne D./Yelp

At Oliveto, chef Brian Griffith's menu is vibrant and soulful. The menu changes daily and always features unexpected local fare like linguine with Dungeness crab, tomato, pickled avocado and preserved Meyer lemon. At Oliveto you’ll try dishes and flavor combinations that you’ve never experienced before that are at once familiar and completely unusual, and you’ll be very glad that you did.

A previous version of this article misnamed the chef. We apologize for the error. 

#10 Ristorante Bartolotta (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin)

#12 Ristorante Bartolotta (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Photo courtesy The Bartolotta Restaurants

Chef Paul Bartolotta’s flagship Italian restaurant has been drawing guests to the suburbs of Milwaukee since 1993, and it's simply one of the best special occasion restaurants in America. Don't miss the uovo in raviolo (a single large truffle raviolo encasing ricotta, spinach and a whole runny egg yolk, topped with brown butter and white truffles). Other standouts include pappardelle with slow-braised duck ragù, a crisp roasted half chicken with a lemon white wine pan sauce, an assortment of grilled seafood, a wood-roasted filet of beef with pureed potatoes and Umbrian black truffle sauce, and whatever happens to be on the chef’s four-course seasonal menu that day.

#9 Chi Spacca (Los Angeles, California)

#11 Chi Spacca (Los Angeles, California)

Felicia T./Yelp

Chef Nancy Silverton's Chi Spacca (“he who cleaves” in Italian) is, as the name might imply, a temple to meat. At this restaurant, appetizers like roasted squash blossoms with ricotta and tomato vinaigrette, fried panelle, and salumi platters are preludes to meat-heavy entrees. Main dishes include the likes of l porcini-rubbed short ribs with salsa verde, a lamb shoulder chop with mint yogurt and cilantro, and milk-braised veal breast with hazelnuts and crispy sage. The 50-ounce dry-aged bone-in bistecca fiorentina is one of the country's best (and most expensive, at $250), and the tomahawk pork chop is also a force to be reckoned with. Not only is this a great Italian restaurant, it’s right up there with the best steakhouses in America.

 

#8 Scampo (Boston, Massachusetts)

#9 Scampo (Boston, Massachusetts)

Scampo/Yelp

James Beard Award-winner Lydia Shire's showstopping restaurant, Scampo, is a whole lot of fun to dine at. Surprises like tandoori-fired sea scallops and Spanish ibèrico ham await. There are six handmade breads, a full "mozzarella bar," spaghetti topped with cracklings and hot pepper, and pizza topped with artichoke and proscuitto. Entrées include duck with parsnips and steamed pumpernickel dumplings, Kurobuta pork chop with pancetta and quince, and rabbit “porchetta” with butterfly pasta with apple mostarda. Everything on the menu looks delicious, but be sure to drop in on Friday night, when the special is roast suckling pig.

#7 Frasca Food & Wine (Boulder, Colorado)

#8 Frasca Food & Wine (Boulder, Colorado)

Michael U./Yelp

A "frasca" in Italy's Fruili region is a roadside farm restaurant that serves a simple menu. Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson's Frasca Food & Wine isn't exactly that, but it does capture that spirit and champions the vast diversity of Colorado’s culinary resources. Frasca is warm and inviting, perfect for both an impromptu dinner or a special occasion celebration. The menu changes regularly, but expect elevated Italian dishes like langoustine risotto, smoked black cod with apple and horseradish, and lamb with polenta and wild mushrooms.

#6 Osteria Mozza (Los Angeles, California)

#2 Osteria Mozza (Los Angeles, California)

Stephanie B./Yelp

First of all, there’s a mozzarella bar with nine options. Beyond that, the menu includes fantastic (and sometimes unusual) pasta (goat cheese ravioli with "five lilies," meaning five members of the allium family); maltagliati with rabbit ragu and simple bavetti cacio e pepe. Main dishes range from pan-seared rib-eye cap with potato and brodo di Parmigiano to whole grilled orata wrapped in radicchio.

#5 Del Posto (New York, New York)

#1 Del Posto (New York, New York)

Jenny S./Yelp

Del Posto opened in 2005 in New York's Meatpacking District and the gleaming, 18,000-square-foot restaurant immediately made its mark on the city. Its $69 three-course prix-fixe lunch is an absolute steal, but drop by at night for the true experience. Choose between the $179 five-course menu or the $209 eight-course “Captain’s Menu.” You’ll be served expertly prepared classic and modern Italian dishes including three preparations of Arctic char (crudo, confit and tartare) with parsley root, linguine with geoduck and lemon, garganelli al ragu Bolognese, a Tuscan shellfish stew with a squid ink fritter, salt-baked seabass with octopus and potato and red-wine wagyu short rib with polenta and spinach. And vegans take note: there’s a completely vegan tasting menu as well, putting this place on par with the best vegan-friendly restaurants in America.

#4 Bestia (Los Angeles, California)

#6 Bestia (Los Angeles, California)

Paul K./Yelp

Bestia is located in an old industrial warehouse, and it can only be identified by is its spray-painted name on the building. Chef Ori Menasche (who owns the restaurant with his wife, pastry chef Genevieve Gergis) is turning out some truly astonishing Italian-inspired dishes. Standout menu items include a variety of housemade salumi, roasted marrow bone with spinach gnocchetti, pizza with housemade spicy ‘nduja sausage and Tuscan kale, spaghetti with sea urchin and trout roe, and slow-roasted lamb neck with smoked anchovy creme fraiche.

#3 Spiaggia (Chicago, Illinois)

#4 Spiaggia (Chicago, Illinois)

Spiaggia/Yelp

With a storied history, Chicago’s Spiagga has racked up countless accolades over the years and redefined modern Italian dining in America. Currently, it sits in good hands with new executive chef Eric Lees, who’s been there since 2016 and took over in 2019 for previous chef Joe Flamm, who’s perhaps best known for winning “Top Chef.” And with menu items like risotto with wagyu beef, caramelle with foie gras and pumpkin, a dry-aged bistecca fiorentina with truffle hollandaise and its trademark gnocchi with black truffle and Parmigiano Reggiano (one of America’s most iconic dishes), it doesn’t look like they’ve skipped a beat.

#2 Vetri Cucina (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

#3 Vetri Cucina (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Shirlana D./Yelp

Chef Marc Vetri's Philadelphia flagship serves incredibly sophisticated fare via multi-course tasting menus personalized to your taste by chef de cuisine Matt Buehler. You might end up with, for instance, a sweet onion crepe with white truffle fondue, pappardelle with beef shank ragu, dry-aged pork with turnips, and a pear and almond tart for dessert. There is also a wine cellar of more than 2,500 bottles to choose from. But all this doesn’t come cheap. The tasting menu costs $165 per person, it’s one of the most expensive restaurants in America.

#1 Quince (San Francisco, California)

#5 Quince (San Francisco, California)

Owie N./Yelp

The charming and elegant three Michelin-starred Quince is located in a historic building in San Francisco’s Jackson Square neighborhood. Chef and owner Michael Tusk has built relationships with the best Northern California food purveyors, and was awarded the 2011 James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Pacific for his efforts. Every night, the 10-course, $298 seasonal tasting menu features dishes that showcase the season’s finest produce. If you're looking to spend a little less, you can take a seat in the salon, where an abbreviated tasting menu is available for $180 (along with a variety of a la carte caviar-based dishes). The menu changes nightly, but sample dishes from the tasting menu include Fresh Run Farm sunchoke with pomegranate and Castelmagno cheese, wild turbot with savoy cabbage and farro, agnolotti verdi, and Four Story Hill farm veal with cardoon and bagna cauda. No wonder Quince made our list of the 101 very best restaurants in America.

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