Every state is home to scores of Italian restaurants — some old-school, some modern, some in-between — and we’ve tracked down the best one in every one as well as the District of Columbia.
What were our criteria for identifying an “Italian restaurant,” exactly? A prevalence of Italian or Italian-inspired dishes on the menu, to start. A great Italian restaurant has many of the same standards that make any restaurant great: impeccable service; high-quality food; creative-yet-classic preparation and an overall experience that leaves you content.
To assemble this ranking, we looked at restaurants that made it onto our list of the 101 Best Restaurants in America and the 101 Best Casual Restaurants in America, which we release annually, as well as other rankings like America’s 50 Best Italian Restaurants and the Best Pasta Dish in Every State. From there, we consulted rankings and reviews from local publications across the country, scanned menus and review sites and kept our eyes open for restaurants that have amassed huge local followings. If you live near any of these restaurants, we suggest you make dining there a priority next time you’re craving Italian food.
For more than 40 years, family-owned Sorrento’s in Anchorage, Alaska, has been dishing up Italian fare. The expansive menu doesn’t veer too far out of the red-sauce comfort zone — popular dishes include fried calamari, cannelloni with meat sauce, steaks and pizzas.
Virtù opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2013, serving a menu of handmade pastas, seafood, prime meats and regional vegetables in a stylish and inviting dining room with ample outdoor seating. The menu changes regularly based on what comes in, but expect creative fare like asparagus with duck egg, feta, bacon candy and foie gras hollandaise, or gnocchi with housemade sausage. Restaurants like Virtù prove that Scottsdale is truly a great food town.
Roma Italian Restaurant/Yelp
Tucked away in Jacksonville, Arkansas, Roma serves all the classics like veal parmesan and eggplant rollatini. Start with fried calamari with homemade marinara sauce and then move on to one of the countless house specialties, like chicken and shrimp sautéed with hot cherry peppers and capers in a white wine and alfredo sauce and served over tortellini.
The three Michelin-starred Quince in San Francisco is run by chef Michael Tusk, who was awarded the 2011 James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Pacific. The 8- to 10-course Italian-influenced tasting menu features dishes that showcase the season’s finest produce. The menu changes nightly, but past offerings have included dishes like garganelli pasta with lobster and porcini mushroom or duck with celtuce, pumpkin and balsamic. Quince is quite highly regarded, which is perhaps why the restaurant is also among the most expensive in America.
Frasca Food and Wine/Yelp
Frasca Food & Wine captures the spirit of its namesake. A "frasca" in Northern Italy is a roadside farm restaurant that serves a simple menu. This Boulder, Colorado, eatery offers dishes with quality ingredients as well as a warm and inviting atmosphere perfect for either an impromptu dinner or a special occasion celebration. The menu changes regularly, but expect Italian fare like risotto with langoustine shellfish and calamansi citrus; smoked black cod with apple and horseradish; and lamb with polenta and squash. It’s one Colorado restaurant you absolutely need to visit.
At Chester, Connecticut, restaurant Grano Arso, chef/owner Joel Gargano mills native New England grains in-house to make his fresh pasta. Along with stellar traditional pasta dishes like the rigatoni Bolognese, he’s also turning out classic Italian-inspired fare like eggplant al forno with housemade ricotta and gnocchi cacio e pepe.
Mrs. Robino’s has been serving classic Italian-American fare since 1940, and this old-timer remains a Wilmington, Delaware, favorite to this day. Its homemade pastas include the Tour of Italy, spaghetti and ravioli served with a meatball and sausage, and other Italian favorites like lasagna, veal and chicken parmesan and beef braciole. The homemade soups and thin, crispy pizzas are also popular.
Before opening Macchialina in Miami Beach, Florida, in 2012, chef Michael Pirolo spent time cooking at some of Italy’s best restaurants. His menu here consists of antipasti and homemade pastas, with standouts including creamy polenta with pork and spicy broccoli, a roast half-chicken with garlic, and lemon and tagliolini pasta with clams and rock shrimp.
La Tavola Trattoria/Yelp
Located in Atlanta’s historic Virginia-Highland neighborhood, La Tavola is doing traditional Italian food while using seasonal Southern ingredients to put its spin on the classics. Don’t miss the veal meatballs, tagliatelle Bolognese, fennel-sage rubbed roast chicken, and the fish of the day.
Arancino di Mare/Yelp
Arancino di Mare is located on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, and serves expertly executed pasta dishes and fresh local seafood. Standouts include antipasto di pesce with Kauai red shrimp and a variety of other shellfish; scallop carpaccio topped with sea asparagus, tobiko caviar and red onions; and spaghetti tossed with a simple garlic tomato sauce and topped with octopus, scallops, calamari, clams, mussels and shrimp. Not only is this restaurant fantastic, but it’s also one of the most romantic restaurants in America.
The pasta is made fresh in-house daily at Alavita, which sources many ingredients from Idaho and refers to itself as “loyal to local.” Standout menu items include the seafood-filled black ravioli; tagliatelle with chicken sugo, preserved tomato and burrata; jars of salmon rillettes or pickled seasonal vegetables; grilled artichoke hearts with basil-truffle aioli; or Idaho-based Snake River Farms wagyu, something you definitely won’t see on the menu at your favorite casual steakhouse chains.
Chicago’s Spiagga has racked up many accolades over the years, and with some of America’s most renowned chefs at the helm, it’s regarded as having redefined Italian dining in America. Menu items include robiola cheese risotto with pepper gastrique, 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.
Iaria’s has been serving classic Italian red-sauce specialties in Indianapolis, Indiana, since 1933. It’s one of those restaurants where time seems to stand still along with the menu: garlic bread, antipasto platters, lasagne, fettuccine with clam sauce, chicken parmesan — it’s all here. It’s also a great place to try a pork tenderloin sandwich, a regional specialty or one of the most delicious sandwiches in America.
Chef Gianluca Baroncini spent time cooking at some the finest restaurants in Verona, Italy, before opening Iowa City, Iowa, favorite Baroncini. The menu includes fresh house-made agnolotti pasta stuffed with a mixture of local beef and Parmigiano-Reggiano tossed with a traditional brown butter and sage sauce; house-smoked salmon; braised local pork cheek with polenta and gremolata; and seared filet mignon with porcini espresso demi.
Wichita, Kansas, standby Albero Cafe offers a wide selection of Italian classics and creative specialties, like Italian nachos and shrimp dip, both perfect party foods. There’s also a wide variety of customizable pastas. The menu also boasts fried calamari sliced and “steak fried” instead of served in rings, Tuscan white bean soup, flatbreads and Italian lemon cream cake.
Vincenzo’s opened in 1986, and since then it’s become one of the most beloved restaurants in Louisville, Kentucky. Vinecenzo’s specialties include mascarpone ravioli topped with grilled chicken, spinach and mushrooms; beef and veal crepes with bechamel and marinara; and veal medallions stuffed with smoked gouda and pancetta in a wine sauce. Be sure to order a made-to-order soufflé for dessert; it’s an absolute must-try.
Domenica is located in New Orleans’ Roosevelt Hotel, which is also the birthplace of one of America’s favorite cocktails, the Sazerac. It puts a New Orleans spin on traditional Italian cuisine. The menu boasts 11 pizzas, including one topped with roast pork, mozzarella, red onion, Anaheim peppers and salsa verde. Pastas include a tagliatelle with slow-cooked rabbit and porcini mushrooms. For an entree, you can expect offerings like Gulf fish with root vegetables and black garlic.
Solo Italiano in Portland, Maine, sources many ingredients locally and makes pastas in-house. The restaurant offers less-common foods like thin Recco-style focaccia bread and a platter of Genovese street food like panisse and fried duck ravioli. Other standouts include pasta with Genovese basil pesto; 60-yolk angel hair pasta with a farm egg yolk and white truffles; and rabbit confit with chamomile, lavender and chestnuts.
Located in the heart of Baltimore’s Little Italy, the elegant La Tavola brings the cooking of Venetian chef Carlo Vignotto to Maryland. His lineup of traditional Italian classics is enhanced by creative uses of fresh local ingredients, and all of Vignotto’s skills are on display with dishes like a light and crispy fritto misto with calamari, shrimp, zucchini, eggplant and polenta; traditional veal saltimbocca; house-made gnocchi; and a simple lasagna Bolognese that’s up there with America’s best lasagnas.
Scampo makes for a fabulous dining experience from start to finish. Surprises like Thai beef salad, Spanish ibèrico ham and Indian-inspired twists like tandoori-fired sea scallops stud the menu. There are six handmade breads, a full "mozzarella bar," spaghetti topped with cracklings, and hot pepper and pizza topped with lobster.
Bacco draws crowds to Southfield, Michigan, for its fresh-made pastas and contemporary high-end Italian cuisine made with ingredients from local farms and an onsite garden. Don’t miss the strozzapreti, a lesser-seen pasta shape, with housemade sausage and creamy tomato sauce. Other offerings include grilled octopus with crispy potato and guanciale vinaigrette, simple cacio e pepe and fettuccine marinara, and a veal chop with crispy potatoes and Calabrian chiles.
This “pasta bar” opened in 1994, and since then, its spectacular fresh-made pastas have made it a Minneapolis must-visit. Nearly 20 pastas and risottos are on the menu, ranging from risotto with smoked mozzarella and mushroom ragu to its signature quadrucci with roasted chicken, prosciutto, asparagus, balsamic and mascarpone cheese.
Located inside Biloxi’s Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Mississippi, Stalla is an Italian spot specializing in traditional fare prepared with quality ingredients and served in a beautiful dining room. Blue crab cakes with roasted pepper aioli, a variety of pizzas, Gulf shrimp fra diavolo, scallops with mushroom risotto and veal cheek picatta are just a few of the kitchen’s highlights.
Since 1995, Trattoria Marcella has been serving top-notch, soulful Italian fare to locals and in-the-know tourists in St. Louis, Missouri. The restaurant puts impressive spins on traditional Italian fare like chicken and asparagus risotto, homemade spaghetti and meatballs, beef tenderloin with Barolo wine roasted garlic sauce and veal Marsala. It’s also a great place to sample housemade toasted ravioli, a beloved regional specialty.
Lucca’s is a high-end Helena hotspot that’s considered among the best restaurants in Montana, and with good reason. It features an elegant dining room and serves expertly prepared dishes using fresh ingredients. Don’t miss the cheese and sausage dip, wild-caught walleye filet, braised pork belly, and seafood-loaded fisherman’s spaghetti.
Omaha, Nebraska's charming Spezia is a crowd-pleaser. The menu is expansive and offers a wide variety of antipasti, pastas, wood-grilled and oven-roasted specialties, and Angus steaks. Specialties include flatbread with Italian sausage and roasted peppers, a wood-grilled chicken salad with crispy prosciutto and gorgonzola, shrimp scampi capellini, wood-grilled scallops and a 14-ounce rib-eye with Burgundy jus and roasted onions. The Sunday brunch is also one of the best all-you-can-eat deals around.
Costa di Mare/Yelp
Costa di Mare may be located in the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, but it might as well be in a coastal Italian village. Fresh fish and shellfish are flown in daily from Italy. The fresh pastas are delicious. The oven-baked spaghetti with shrimp, spiny lobster, clams, mussels, scallops and flying squid in particular is a must-try. Even America’s best seafood shacks have nothing on this place.
Tuscan Kitchen is bringing some Tuscan sunshine to the cities of Salem and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. There are plenty of authentic Italian dishes on the menu, and the perfectly cooked house-made pasta is made with imported flour. Try the signature meatballs, pizzas, house-cured salumi, lobster ravioli and veal porterhouse.
The kitchen at the warm and luxurious Scalini Fedeli, opened in 1995 in a 260-year-old Chatham, New Jersey, farmhouse. The restaurant serves a two-course prix fixe menu that lets diners choose between more than a dozen dishes for each course. Start with Tuscan white bean soup with pecorino raviolini or pappardelle in a braised veal shank and marrow sauce. Follow that up with potato-crusted snapper with sauteed wild mushrooms or a veal chop with porcini-Dijon sauce. In New Jersey, Scalini Fedeli has become truly historic.
Kristine F./ Yelp
Northern Italian cuisine is the focus during fall and winter, and Southern Italy is highlighted during the spring and summer at Trattoria a Mano, a neighborhood spot in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Expect dishes like panzanella salad; spaghetti carbonara, a delicious guilty pleasure food; and lamb shank with butternut squash polenta.
Since opening in 2005, New York’s magnificent, 18,000-square-foot Del Posto has cemented its claim as the absolute best Italian restaurant in the city and the state. Its prix-fixe lunch is a steal, but at dinnertime, the five-course or eight-course Captain’s Menu is truly the best way to experience its cuisine. You’ll be served expertly prepared classic and modern Italian dishes like three preparations of Arctic char; caramelle pasta filled with gorgonzola and pear; a Tuscan shellfish stew with a squid ink fritter; 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.
Nikki W./ Yelp
Charlotte, North Carolina, institution Mama Ricotta’s is a neighborhood favorite that’s renowned for its high-quality ingredients, attention to detail and made-from-scratch cooking. Its New Haven-style pizza is a standout, but make sure you sample the pasta dishes like the family-recipe cheese ravioli and entrées like the Chianti-braised short rib. Most dishes are also available infamily-style portions for sharing.
Toscana brings a taste of Italy and France to Fargo, North Dakota. Show-stopping creations like osso buco; tournedos Rossini, a classic dish you don’t see too often these days; and a lamb loin in a curry-chive cream sauce await diners. Standouts in the pasta department include tagliolini granchio, shrimp and crab with tomatoes, garlic and spinach in a light cream sauce; penne ortolana with wild mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, peppers and garlic in mushroom ragù; and gnocchi fattore with chicken, garlic and mushrooms in a tomato gorgonzola sauce.
A small, homey operation, Lola & Giuseppe’s serves classic Italian-American fare from an unassuming Columbus, Ohio, storefront. The restaurant features family recipes and specialties such as pasta fritto, a cheesy deep-fried spaghetti; wedding soup; creamy Sicilian onion soup; spaghetti and meatballs that are up there with America’s best; housemade gnocchi with sausage and peppers; and lobster ravioli. It doesn’t accept reservations, but the wait will be worth it.
The elegant Stella has been going strong in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, since it first opened in 2010. There’s something for everyone here, from wood-fired pizzas topped with Italian meats to baked crab dip. The menu also has a spectacular Italian wedding soup, smoked beef short rib pasta, butternut squash tortelloni, tomahawk pork chop, and a lamb shank with red quinoa and roasted rosemary chickpeas.
Nostrana serves some of Portland, Oregon’s best Neapolitan-style pizzas, with fresh mozzarella made daily and both classic and creative toppings like meatballs, shiitake mushrooms and clams. But this restaurant isn’t just about pizza. The menu changes daily, but expect dishes like wood oven-roasted Manila clams, goat cheese-stuffed pappardelle, rotisserie chicken with spicy onion relish and a crispy leek risotto cake, and wood oven-roasted trout with salsa verde and lentils.
At Vetri Cucina in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the menu changes based on the diner because servers discuss individual preferences with each guest. And these certainly aren’t your grandma’s pasta recipes. For instance, you might end up with a sweet onion crepe with white truffle fondue, almond tortellini with white truffle sauce, duck with chicories and ‘nduja sausage, and fromage blanc cheesecake for dessert. There is also a wine cellar of more than 2,500 bottles to choose from.
Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island, features a daily changing menu. Sample items include handmade beef short rib ravioli, pappardelle with Venetian chicken sauce, wood-grilled lamb chop and leg spiedino, and spicy clam roast with hot sausage and mashed potatoes. However, the restaurant is best known for its invention of the grilled pizza, which is grilled over hardwood charcoal fire. The Margarita, which is topped with fresh herbs, dollops of tomato sauce, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil, is consistently on our ranking of the best pizzas in America.
The menu is changed often at Trattoria Lucca in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, based off of farmers market finds and the catches of local fishermen. Menu items include Warm Cauliflower Sformatino with a soft farm egg, grilled octopus with peanut potatoes and green beans, paccheri pasta with braised heritage pork, and a Picatta of Cherry Point Swordfish.
A warm and inviting family-owned destination in the Black Hills of South Dakota, family-owned Botticelli is warm and comfortable and serves a menu full of Italian homestyle cooking like linguine with meatballs, lasagna, baked manicotti, linguine with clams, chicken piccata with tiramisu for dessert. The wine list is also affordable and more than 200 bottles strong.
Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen opened in Memphis, Tennessee, in late 2008, and the menu of rustic, Italian/Southern American fusion has kept the crowds coming. Be sure to sample the bucatini carbonara and maw maw's ravioli with meat gravy, which is one of the absolute best bites of food in the entire state.
A downtown mainstay that’s been pulling in crowds in Austin, Texas, since 2000, La Traviata is turning out a different homemade ravioli every day, making it one of America’s best restaurants for ravioli. All the basics are covered here — spaghetti al la carbonara, Bolognese and chicken parmesan — and they’re all done well.
Spot-on Tuscan classics can be found at this modern, comfortable restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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 with porcini ragù and red wine sauce.
One of the most romantic restaurants in America, Trattoria Delia in Burlington, Vermont, occupies a charming and historic space and warms the cold night with a fireplace and traditional Italian fare. It’s been going strong since 1993, and the pasta is the star of the menu. Try the lobster fra diavolo, a house-made spaghetti with lobster claw, or the tagliatelle al ragù, egg pasta ribbons with a veal, beef and pork Bolognese.
Located in Alexandria, one of Virginia’s most charming and historic cities, Fratelli has gained a devoted local following for its Northern Italian-inspired fare, large menu and vegetables sourced from its onsite garden. It’s a family business and the dining room is quaint. Don’t miss the minestrone soup, homemade lobster or beef ravioli, linguine with clams and the chicken francaise. It’s also open for lunch daily and offers a weekend brunch that’s up there with America’s best brunch offerings.
James Beard Award winner Holly Smith’s charming Kirkland, Washington, neighborhood eatery Cafe Juanita elevates Northern Italian cuisine to fine-dining status. The menu changes frequently, but there’s always an emphasis on local produce, meats and seafood as well as high-end imported Italian ingredients. Expect dishes like veal sweetbreads and fried capers; risotto with mussels; and braised rabbit with porcini and gnocchi.
Fazio's was founded in Charleston, West Virginia, by Nell Fazio. Her son, chef Danny Fazio, has been at the helm for more than 35 years. A true family operation, Fazio’s specializes in the red-sauce classics, and they also happen to turn out some top-notch fried chicken. Don’t miss the spaghetti and meatballs, house-made Italian sausage, fried ravioli, homemade cannelloni, baked lasagna, or the veal marsala.
Drawing guests to Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, in the suburbs of Milwaukee since 1993, Ristorante Bartolotta is simply spectacular, and one of America’s best restaurants for celebrating a special occasion. Menu standouts include pappardelle with slow-braised duck ragù, a crisp roasted half-chicken with a lemon white wine pan sauce, and a wood-roasted filet of beef with puréed potatoes and black truffle sauce.
Handmade pastas and wood-fired cooking are the house specialties at the warm and inviting Glorietta in Jackson, Wyoming. In fact, the grill is located right in the middle of the restaurant, and a spot at the bar gets you a front-row seat. Along with pastas like campanelle with pesto and a pappardelle with braised beef cheek, you’ll also find roasted acorn squash with spicy sausage stuffing and braised lamb shank. And as for that grill, it’s turning out prime hanger steaks, dry-aged bone-in rib-eyes and a 40-ounce wagyu porterhouse like those you will find at one of America’s best steakhouses.
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