Diners in New York City are blessed with tons of fantastic Italian, Italian-American, and Italian-ish restaurants. From quick, well-executed pizzas to classic cacio e pepe, food lovers in the city can’t go wrong. One might argue that, if anything, there are too many good Italian options. When hunger strikes, where does one even begin?
Thankfully, you’ve got our handy guide, which ranks Caviar customers’ top Italian restaurants in NYC. They’re favorites for good reason, as you’ll soon see.
At this Brooklyn restaurant, chef Albert Di Meglio channels his nonna (the restaurant is named after her birthplace, Barano d’Ischia). All the pastas are made by hand (get the maccheroni alla vodka). The mozzarella is hand-pulled to order and served warm (come on!). And most dishes are kissed by the wood-burning oven or live-fire grill, from the charred-in-all-the-right places ’nduja pizza to the whole roasted branzino.
2. Via Carota
Much has been written about the iconic insalata verde, an inviting green hill of butter lettuce and endive dressed in a delicate shallot-sherry vinaigrette, at this West Village trattoria. But honestly, everything chef-owners Rita Sodi and Jody Williams create is spot on, and simple yet satisfying. They have a way with homemade pasta, tasty meats, and fresh vegetables, so get a mix. We like the cacio e pepe tonnarelli (thick pasta strands), Sicilian-style polpette (little meatballs) made with pine nuts and currants, and broccoli rabe with chiles.
There are three locations of Parm in the city, but no matter which outpost is closest to you, get ready for a choose-your-own-cutlet adventure. Want your breaded chicken cutlet splashed with tomato sauce and finished with melty mozzarella, in a hero, on a plate with pasta for sopping up sauce, or loaded into a roll? As you mull over that all-important question, load up your cart with the perfectly garlicky Caesar salad with gigantic croutons, mozz sticks, and a thick slice of baked ziti.
4. Forma Pasta Factory
The menu at this Brooklyn pasta-factory-slash-fast-casual-joint is an education on Italian pastas. There’s curly mafaldine (served with big shrimp and a lemony white wine sauce), stout pipette (paired with pork sausage and an herby, creamy sauce), and more. As long as you’re learning, pay attention to the three salads, each a study in contrasts: soft and crisp, tangy and creamy. We love the gem salad with radishes and shaved pecorino drizzled in a mustardy vinaigrette.
Sometimes you only need a tiny bit of help come suppertime, and this West Village contemporary Italian spot’s got your back. The pasta kit makes dinner a breeze, with a pound of pasta, your choice of ragu, and already grated Pecorino (*chef’s kiss*). If you’d like an additional assist, try the fried chickpea-topped Sicilian chopped salad or the roasted chicken with hen of the woods mushrooms and scallions.
6. Sant Ambroeus
Transport yourself to Milan via this chic mini chain of restaurants. Get the vitello tonnato, succulent roast veal draped in a creamy yellowfin tuna sauce; the iconic duo that is 24-month-aged prosciutto and cloud-like burrata; and all the pasta, from spicy arrabbiata to classic cacio e pepe.
Who would have thought an award-winning independent filmmaker is cranking out some of the city’s most beloved pies? That’s chef and owner Ron Brown for you; he spent six summers in Italy perfecting his pizza game before opening this Brooklyn spot. His masterpieces are the cremini and hot fennel sausage pizza, four cheese and pepperoni, and sopressata with fior di latte, all fresh out of the wood-burning oven.
8. Bar Primi
Chef and restaurateur Andrew Carmellini pulls no punches with his East Village trattoria. The meatballs are stuffed with cheese and covered in a rich, tomato-forward sugo. The chewy campanelle is stained with squid ink and topped with a garlicky crema. The chicken Marsala comes in sandwich form with meaty mushrooms.
9. I Sodi
Mother knows best when it comes to the food at this seasonally minded West Village hotspot. Chef and owner Rita Sodi’s Tuscan mother is the inspiration behind the rustic yet refined food: peas braised with garlic, delicate house-made lasagna layered with creamy artichoke sauce, and smoky chicken grilled under a brick.
Half of the experience at Fausto is sommelier Joe Campanale’s Italian-forward wine list. Get curated by-the-glass options, from funky orange to refreshing rosé, and add his wine book to cart if you’d like to brush up on Italian varietals. Be sure to load up on chef Erin Shambura’s Brooklyn-inflected Italian food: roasted beet salad tossed in a shallot vinaigrette and crowned with Sicilian pistachios, garlic scape and Parm focaccia, and bone-in pork chops with spring onions.
11. Faicco’s Italian Specialities
Consider this Italian sandwich shop your hero. Literally. Since 1900, this West Village spot has been crafting hulking sandwiches that are lessons in both architecture and flavor. You can’t go wrong with the Italian (prosciutto, ham, capicola, sopressata), chicken cutlet smothered in pesto, or eggplant Parm.
12. Frank Restaurant
Restaurateur Frank Prisinzano is an East Village trailblazer; he opened Frank in 1998, paving the way for Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune and others to follow — including his other two spots, Lil Frankie’s and Supper. What has remained since the late ’90s? Frank’s comforting Italian menu, and that is a very good thing. Italian classics like chicken alla Parmigiana and penne alla vodka stick to your ribs. Round out your meal with fresh bruschetta and prosciutto with melon.
13. Frankies 457 Spuntino
The Franks (a.k.a. owners Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli) are known for salads (simple, acid-forward, textural), house-made pastas, and chill vibes. At this Brooklyn sanctuary, you can ensure all that goodness in your future by ordering the fennel, celery root and parsley salad; restorative cannellini bean and escarole soup; and the now-famous house-made ricotta-based cavatelli with spicy sausage and sage.
Don’t skim the menu of this beloved Brooklyn restaurant, but take in the details that make it special. The grilled octopus is served alongside a pesto made of briny Castelvetrano olives. Lemon oil adds brightness to the shredded Tuscan kale and Brussels sprouts salad. The Amish chicken with crispy potatoes is balanced out with a cacio e pepe gem salad (for health!).
Keith McNally is a restaurant magician: He can conjure Parisian vibes (Pastis, Balthazar) just as easily as rustic Italian. Look no further than this West Village carb oasis, where you can load up on classic pastas, like garganelli alla Bolognese and hand-rolled pici al limone, or sink into meatier dishes, such as grilled octopus with fregola and pan-roasted salmon with white polenta and bitter endive.
When in Rome … you’ll probably still be thinking about Marta. This Murray Hill restaurant specializes in the ancient city’s signature extremely thin, crackly pizzas. You’ll want it plain and simple (Margherita) and topped with wood-roasted mushrooms and fontina (Funghi), as well as a salad (the light Marta Mista is a favorite).
A perfect date night looks like skirt steak drizzled with a sweet-tart balsamic reduction, Caesar salad topped with a puff of grated Parm, and Bolognese riccia slurped Lady and the Tramp-style. This Northern Italian spot in Brooklyn has got your back for date night and beyond.
18. Simò Pizza
Restaurateur Simone Falco translates his Neapolitan cooking sensibility to fast-casual ease with this pair of pizzerias in the Meatpacking District and Union Square. The move here is the sausage-and-onion-crowned salsiccia e cipolla pie (or simple tomato and mozzarella Margherita for vegetarians), along with the mesclun and avo insalata mista and Nutella panna cotta for good measure.
The wood-burning oven is the VIP of chef John DeLucie’s Italian-leaning restaurant in Brooklyn. It gives chicken wings smokiness, pizza (red-pepper-hot amatriciana, prosciutto-buoyed saltimbocca) the right amount of char, and cauliflower a slight sweetness. Save room for banana bread pudding.
20. Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
Restaurateur Donna Leonard and chef Justin Smillie are a restaurant power duo. Through this Noho restaurant, they bring Italy to you, with daily-made focaccia fino, fat-rimmed prosciutto di Parma sold by the quarter pound, and meals beyond those provisions. Get the roasted senat chicken with salsa verde and seasonal veggies (charred beans or grilled carrots), crispy artichokes with preserved lemon, and a generous slice of olive oil cake.