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Parm and Beyond: The Best Red-Sauce Restaurants in the Country

Track down chicken Parm, spaghetti with meatballs, and more Italian-American favorites.

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Revel in Red Sauce

They may not be authentic-of-Italy Italian food, but giant plates of chicken Parmesan and bowls of spaghetti doused with marinara are some of the country's most-popular dishes. These Italian-American spots — often referred to as "red sauce" joints — serve heaping portions, often topped with their own red sauce made from a recipe passed down through generations. Dim lights, white tablecloths and some serious history complement the indulgent dishes you'll find at these top spots across the country.

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Carlsbad, California: Spirito's Italian Diner

Don't let the California location fool you: This is true East Coast-style Italian on the West Coast. Anthony Spirito brought his grandfather's legacy for great food from Elizabeth, New Jersey, to this beach town north of San Diego. The kitchen turns out giant portions of chicken limone, Parm and massive ravioli (made only once a week, so when it's gone, it's gone), along with hulking meatballs, and bubbly pizzas made with dough that's prepared twice daily.

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Kansas City, Missouri: Anthony's

Passed down from generation to generation, this Kansas City staple is now run by Anthony III, who would make his ancestors proud with his takes on authentic family recipes. Most dishes are served with Anthony's signature sugo, a tomato-based sauce that is made fresh each morning. Murals of Italy decorate the walls, helping to set the mood, and Frank Sinatra can be heard through the speakers outside, so there's a retro appeal before even setting foot inside.

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Wilmington, Delaware: Mrs. Robino's

This family-owned Delaware restaurant has served homestyle Italian food since 1940. Mrs. Tersilla Robino first served her now-legendary Italian food outside her house, then moved to a small space that is now the entrance of the restaurant. Today her family serves her original recipes in a dining room full of old black-and-white family photos. Dishes include the famous Tour of Italy, which combines spaghetti, meat ravioli and cheese ravioli, all topped with giant meatballs and chunks of sausage. The Veal Spizzato, served over housemade spaghetti and red sauce, is another local favorite.

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