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The Best Italian Restaurants in NYC

New York City's abiding love of Italian food extends well beyond pizza. Including informal trattorias, old-school red sauce institutions and refined Michelin-starred establishments, here are our picks of the Big Apple's very best Italian restaurants.

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Photo: Noah Fecks

Locanda Verde

Chef Andrew Carmellini and crew may have launched numerous restaurants since Locanda Verde (which counts Robert De Niro as one of its partners) opened in 2009, but there's no replicating their firstborn's inherent loveliness. Sprawled across the ground floor of the Greenwich Hotel (and spilling into the bucolic courtyard), it remains an all-day destination for nibbles of sheep's milk ricotta speckled with sea salt and herbs, light and bright Atlantic halibut with lemon conserva and artichoke vignarola, and rustic and endearingly humble pasta plates such as paccheri with "Sunday night ragu" or the dish dubbed My Grandmother's Ravioli.

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Photo: Robin Lehr

Pasquale Jones

Though big sib Charlie Bird has drawn praise for pasta, the menu at this equally hip follow-up is more unabashedly Italian. It maintains a delectable Mediterranean through line from small to large plates (summer peppers with anchovies and Italian oregano, lobster paccheri, black sea bass with burst cherry tomatoes) and dedicates an entire section to wood-fired pizzas as well. Granted, you'll spend up to $30 on a pie, but that stunner will be anointed with littleneck clams, broccoli rabe and cream.

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Don Angie

Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli used the success of their speakeasy-style pop-up, Dinnertable — and its shareable pinwheels of lasagna — as a springboard to open this contemporary red-sauce spot that's been awarded two stars by The New York Times. Drawing on their Italian-American backgrounds and their stints at eateries like Torrisi Italian Specialties and Quality Italian, the married team turns standards like spaghetti and meatballs on their heads. Instead of the expected versions, you'll find oversized tubes of garganelli dunked in broken meatball ragu, a Caesar salad-inspired assemblage of spicy chrysanthemum leaves spiked with garlic and sesame and showered in shredded Parmesan, and smoked mussels sauced with Peroni beer and flavored with pimenton.

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Photo: Evan Sung

Lilia

After Missy Robbins earned her stripes as executive chef at Chicago's Spiaggia and NYC's A Voce, Lilia cemented her status as a queen of Italian cuisine. Adulation from The New York Times (which awarded the restaurant three stars) and the James Beard Foundation (which gave Robbins the Best Chef NYC award) attests to the supremacy of her cacio e pepe fritelle, veggies with warm bagna cauda, and saffron-tinted agnolotti dripping with dried tomatoes and honey. Yet the power of Lilia is probably best expressed by the fact that it's just as difficult to nab a table there now as it was the day it opened in 2016.

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