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The 20 Best Italian Restaurants in NYC

Babbo NYC

New York City is an amazing place for eating out with a host of outstanding restaurants for you to choose between. These vary from budget diners to fine dining establishments, and there is cuisine from all over the world. One of the most popular choices in this city is Italian food, and there are many amazing restaurants that specialize in this cuisine. Here are 20 of the best Italian restaurants in NYC.

20. Malatesta Trattoria

One of the most popular Italian restaurants in the West Village, the charm of this restaurant attracts a big crowd of locals, which is always a sign of a good restaurant. There is a coy atmosphere with exposed brick walls and flickering candlelight. The menu changes regularly as the food is made using seasonal ingredients. However, you will usually find the typical pasta staples of an Italian restaurant along with seafood specials.

19. Emilio’s Ballato

Founded in 1956, Emilio’s Ballato will take you back in time as soon as you step inside. There are chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and the walls are adorned with old album covers and vintage photographs. This gives the restaurant a warm and intimate atmosphere. The food is classic Italian food prepared perfectly, such as gamberi oreganate and spaghetti Pomodoro.

18. Il Passatore

It is possible to almost miss this restaurant as it is located on the ground floor of a rather nondescript apartment building on Bushwick Avenue. Nonetheless, once you step inside, it has a completely different look. It is an intimate restaurant that attracts many of the locals who love the atmosphere and the food. It is a great place for vegetarians to eat as many of the best dishes at this restaurant are vegetable-based. Two of particular note are the scrummy vegetable lasagne and the potato gnocchi with gorgonzola and walnuts. Il Passatore promises that all their pasta is made fresh on the premises every day.

17. Maialino

This restaurant is the first time that Danny Meyer has owned a restaurant that is fully focused on Italian food, and the menu is created by chef Jason Pfeifer. The dishes are based on the foods of Rome. Just some f the typical dishes you will find on this menu are spaghetti alla carbonara, burrata with tripe and pecorino, and piglet haunch with basted potatoes. These authentic dishes will make you feel as though you are sat in a trattoria in Rome.

16. Locande Verde

Robert De Niro owns this Italian restaurant, and the kitchen is run by chef Andrew Carmellini of A Voce. The highlight of this restaurant is the family-style dishes, so it is a great place to eat out with friends, as a family, or in large groups. On the main course menu, the pasta dishes are the best option with the ravioli worth an extra mention. Try not to fill up too much though, as the dessert menu is exceptional. New York Magazine also points out that this restaurant serves breakfast and pastries to the attached Greenwich Hotel.

15. L’Artusi

This two-level restaurant is popular amongst West Village locals, and it is visited just as much by solo diners as it is by couples, groups, and families. It has a casual and relaxed vibe, and there is the option to just go in and sit at the bar with a snack. The restaurant has an extensive dinner menu and an impressive wine list. Therefore, you will be spoiled for choice when you dine at this eatery. The pasta is outstanding and you should try the house-made ricotta, which is light as air.

14. Bar Pitti

Located on Sixth Avenue, this restaurant is a popular haunt of celebrities. However, it is also popular amongst locals and tourists. The yellow walls give this restaurant a funky vibe, but the seating is laid-out for intimate dining with friends. Owned by Giovanni Tognozzi. Bar Pitti has a minimal menu of mouth-watering Italian dishes. There are also daily specials from which you can choose. When visiting this cash-only restaurant, make sure you leave enough room to try one of the indulgent desserts.

13. Il Buco

If you want a romantic evening out as a couple, Il Buco is a great option. This restaurant is housed in a former antique shop and has been transformed into a romantic restaurant with flattering lighting and a cozy atmosphere. The menu changes daily depending on the availability of ingredients, so you can sample something different on each visit. However, you will find both meat and fish dishes available that are served with seasonal vegetables that are flavored with other tasty ingredients. Time Out also notes that Il Buco has one of the best wine lists in the city, so you should have no trouble pairing a wine with your meal.

12. Frankies 457 Spuntino

Childhood friends Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo traded in fine dining for the comfort of traditional Southern Italian food when they opened this Italian restaurant. This is the place to eat if you want hearty dishes in a casual atmosphere. Highlights of the menu include the meatballs, the gnocchi in tomato sauce, the braciola, and the stewed prunes with mascarpone. It is equally great for hanging out with your friends as it is for family dining.

11. Al di la

Open for almost two decades, this Venetian-inspired restaurant was established by Emiliano Coppa and Anna Klinger. It is located on Fifth Avenue, which was a tired looking row of restaurants when the restaurant first opened. Now, the strip has become known as a place to find excellent restaurants, such as this one. Although the food on the row has changed, the signature dishes of al di la have remained the same. These include pasta dishes that are a little out of the ordinary, braised rabbit with polenta and black olives and a tasty calf’s liver dish. You could describe the dishes as comfort food at its best.

10. Lupa Osteria Romana

Mario Batali co-founded this restaurant with Joe Bastianich in 1999 with the intention that is would become a budget version of Babbo. It was an instant hit and remains one of the most popular Italian restaurants in New York City. There is a rustic feel to this restaurant with its exposed brick walls and dim lighting. This creates a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere for diners. The menu at Lupa Osteria Romana predominantly consists of traditional Italian food, with offal appearing in many of the dishes. You will find this restaurant on Thompson Street.

9. Café Altro Paradiso

Ignacio Mattos opened this restaurant on Spring Street in 2016. He already had Estela, which had become known for its unexpected combinations. With Café Altro Paradiso, he wanted to try something different by taking his Italian food back to basics and concentrating on no-tricks Italian cookery. Although the cooking is simplistic, the combination of ingredients is delicious and the dishes are beautifully presented. The menu changes according to the season and the availability of ingredients, so you can enjoy many visits to this restaurant throughout the year and try something new each time you visit.

8. Via Carota

This neighborhood canteen was established by the owners of I Sodi and Buvette. The restaurant has a fun vibe no matter what time of the day you visit. As you would expect in an Italian restaurant, the pasta dishes are the highlight of the menu, however, the hand-chopped steak and the grilled chicken are also worthy of a mention. What is slightly more unusual is the attention that the chefs pay to the vegetables. The locally sourced seasonal vegetables are cooked in such a way that they are almost a dish in their own right.

7. Barbuto

A restaurant that combines Cal-Med style cooking and Italian cuisine may seem a strange combination, yet it works so well. This restaurant is led by Jonathan Waxman who is a pioneer of California cuisine, which led the movement of using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients in cooking. This is also a style of cooking which you would associate with traditional Italian cuisine. When you think about it like that, the combination of the two types of cuisine makes a little more sense. One of the stand-out dishes on the menu is the JW chicken, which is obviously named after the chef. However, there is so much more to enjoy on this menu, including seasonal pasta dishes, market-driven salads, and meats cooked on a wood-fired grill.

6. Marea

In most cases, people judge the food of an Italian restaurant by using pasta as a benchmark. Marea stands out because the homemade pasta that is used in many of the dishes on the menu is superb. There are some unusual combinations on the menu that are surprisingly delicious, such as the fusilli with red-wine braised octopus and bone marrow. The menu is predominantly Italian seafood dishes, but they also do an excellent 50-day-dry-aged Creekstone sirloin, says Grub Street.

5. Lilia

Located on Union Avenue, Lilia is a fine-dining establishment that is led by Missy Robbins. She has developed a menu that consists of the ingredients she loves the most, such as pasta, seafood, and vegetables. While the dishes are Italian-inspired, they each have a modern twist and some surprise ingredients appear on the menu. Two of the recommended dishes to sample include the large rigatoni diavola and the mafaldine with pink peppercorns.

4. Del Posto

Del Posto has the same owner as Babbo, so it is hardly surprising that both restaurants appear on a list of the best Italian restaurants in New York City. Like Babbo, this is a fine dining establishment that is stylish, sophisticated, and elegant. The menu consists of traditional Italian dishes that have been given a modern twist and are presented in a refined manner. The executive chef is Melissa Rodriguez, who took over from the original chef Mark Ladner.

3. I Sodi

This is one of the best Italian restaurants for those who enjoy dining somewhere that is a little informal. I Sodi serves high-quality food but is a casual place to eat with friends or family and you can walk straight in off the street without worrying about things like dress code or reservations. Rita Sodi is at the helm in this restaurant, and she focuses on serving the dishes she grew up with in Tuscany, such as simple salads, rabbit dishes, homemade pasta, and seasonal specialties. One of the highlights of the menu is the traditional lasagne that has no less than 20 layers.

2. Carbone

Frequently ranked as one of the top Italian restaurants in New York City, Carbone is located on Thompson Street. The interior of this restaurant is probably exactly what you imagine if you think of a mid-20th-century Italian-American restaurant. Conde Nast Traveler describes it as like an Italian restaurant from a movie set, with its leather banquets, white tablecloths, tiled floors, and waiters wearing tuxedos. The whole service is like a performance with the waiters serving Caesar salads tableside. Some highlights of the menu are the angel hair pasta with garlic and chile and the humungous veal Parmesan. You can also buy some dishes served family-style, such as the white lasagne that is sold by the pan.

1. Babbo

Babbo Black Squid Ink Pasta

Babbo has established an excellent reputation amongst the locals, and people are willing to travel to enjoy a meal at this Italian restaurant. There is the option to eat a la carte, or to try one of the two tasting menus, each of which consists of seven dishes and there is the option to include wine pairings for an additional fee. Babbo is also noted for its extensive wine menu, although there are other drink options if you are not a wine enthusiast. Booking at this restaurant is essential because it is so popular, which is partially thanks to the rock n’ roll vibe of the place. Dining at this one Michelin-star restaurant is an experience to remember, so it is worth paying a little more than you perhaps would usually spend on a meal out.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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