The Best Italian Restaurants In NYC guide image

NYCGuide

The Best Italian Restaurants In NYC

Where to eat Italian in NYC when you aren’t willing to settle.

Outside of Italy, NYC is one of the best places in the world to eat Italian food. So, yes, this list could have been much longer than 20 restaurants. It also could have included places that specialize in pizza. But that’s a whole different list, so there's no need for you start tweeting at us about Lucali. For the most part, these are the spots where you go for a special occasion. Or maybe you just have some extra cash on hand and you want to sit at a bar on Wednesday and eat some bangin’ pasta. Whatever the situation, if you want the very best Italian this city has to offer, consult this list.

THE SPOTS

I Sodi imageoverride image
9.1

I Sodi

$$$$

105 Christopher St, New York
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

I Sodi has a small dining room with around eight tables, and the food here is simple, perfect, and (mostly) Tuscan. The pastas on the menu change frequently, but two always remain: the lasagna and the cacio e pepe. That cacio e pepe is chewy, spicy, and doused in cheese, and the lasagna is one of the most iconic dishes in the city. With around 20 layers of pasta, it’s almost like a dense, luxurious custard. This place feels fancy without being formal or uptight, and it’s perfect for celebrating anything from an anniversary to when you go a week without texting your ex. If you can’t get a reservation, have a meal at the bar. It’s our favorite place to dine solo.

There are a ton of Italian restaurants in Brooklyn, but there’s nothing else like Lilia. The space feels like a glamorous, whitewashed warehouse, and their modern Italian food is always perfectly executed. While this place is great for special occasion dates and impressing out-of-towners, our favorite way to eat here is by grabbing a few seats at the bar. Start with a negroni and an order of squishy focaccia, and plan to go deep on pastas. The agnolotti is a required order, and the cacio e pepe-style mafaldini should be in front of you as well.

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Making the trip to Gravesend for a Sicilian slice and spumoni from L&B is a New York rite of passage, but it would be a mistake to write this classic establishment off as merely a slice shop. L&B makes some of the best red sauce Italian in Brooklyn, so it’s worth getting a table inside to check out their very good non-pizza options. We especially love the arancine parmigiana, the eggplant rollatini, and any pasta served under a blanket of tangy pink vodka sauce. Don’t worry, you can get pizza and spumoni inside, too.

photo credit: Carina Finn

Brancaccio’s Food Shop review image
8.8

Brancaccio's Food Shop

There’s no seating at this tiny takeaway spot on the border of Windsor Terrace, but that doesn’t mean Joe Brancaccio doesn’t make some of the best Italian food in Brooklyn. During breakfast and lunch, there’s often a line out the door for his sandwiches, which are served on chewy sesame seed bread and have a loyal local following. But the real move here is to pick up dinner to go: meatballs, orecchiette with broccoli rabe, and rotisserie porchetta are some of our favorites. Toss a white cloth on your kitchen table, light a candle in an old wine bottle, and lay out your Brancaccio’s bounty.

Via Carota, from the people behind I Sodi, doesn't take reservations, and there's pretty much always a wait of two or more hours. Obviously, that's kind of annoying, but it doesn't deter us from eating here. This place manages to stick out among thousands of Italian restaurants in NYC by making food that’s unfussy and uniformly delicious. A meal here should involve some of the dozen-plus vegetable dishes, the steak tartare-like svizzerina, and the cacio e pepe (which is non-optional).

Misi is a Williamsburg restaurant from the people behind Lilia, and its basic premise is: f*ck entrées. This is an Italian restaurant where the menu has three sections: antipasti, pasta, and gelato. There are always 10 pastas on the menu, and choosing between them will be the hardest decision you make all year. But here's a tip: The best things at Misi are the simplest. Try the fettuccine with buffalo butter and black pepper, and don't skip the unbelievably good gelato.

The pasta at Marea is going to make you feel something. You may not be moved to tears, but when you take your first bite of octopus and bone marrow fusilli, you’ll feel like the main character in a coming-of-age movie who finally realizes what was missing all along. This fine-dining restaurant near Columbus Circle is one of our favorite places to eat pasta in NYC, simply because the options go way beyond usual suspects like linguine and clams or a frutti di mare spaghetti. Stop by for your next big night out.

When you walk inside of Ci Siamo, you'll feel like you're checking into a nice hotel, about to start a vacation in Milan (but in reality, you'll still have that 8:15am meeting to discuss "team dynamics" in the morning). The menu centers around live-fire cooking, although your focus should be on the breads and pastas. Get the ricotta-filled agnolotti, and don't leave here without eating the caramelized onion torta. Despite the massive space, it can still be tough to get a table. So make a reservation at this Manhattan West spot in advance.

Even though it’s always packed, we still think Don Angie doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Their Italian American menu—with its stuffed flatbread and sesame-sprinkled gnocchi—is very much doing its own thing, and the cocktail list is pretty cool too. The massive signature pinwheel lasagna for two is always great, but the garganelli with a meatball ragu is even better. Check out this West Village place at least once. You'll appreciate the creativity.

Pasta is the focus at this Flatiron restaurant, and there are usually around nine varieties available, all of which are crafted with the sort of precision usually reserved for high-end watches. Inspired by the region of Emilia-Romagna, the food here is relatively simple and packed with flavor. The menu changes regularly, but you might find some leek-stuffed cappelletti topped with spoonfuls of butter or maccheroni with a shredded duck ragu. Bring a fellow pasta enthusiast to this narrow, subterranean space on East 20th Street, and order the pasta tasting for the full experience.

Sometimes, we dream that we’re in an old farmhouse in the Italian countryside. And we can come pretty close to recreating this dream IRL by heading to Il Buco in Noho. A night at this restaurant—which opened as an antique store in 1994—feels a rustic escape from the city, and the mains here really shine. You can't go wrong with the flawlessly-cooked bistecca and lamb chops, but if you order just one thing, get what might be the best risotto in the city. Also, don't just order one thing here—that's a terrible idea.

There’s a correct way to do L’Artusi, and this is it: You come in a group of two, and you sit at the bar. You order the ricotta with homemade crackers and the roasted mushrooms, and then you share two pastas. You drink wine. You go home happy. A dinner at this West Village restaurant is about as good a date night as they come, and that probably won't change anytime soon. The pastas here are always immaculate, and the garlicky beef carpaccio is the best in the city.

At Nonna Dora’s, there are no dubious claims about bolognese being sourced from a grandma who only exists in a black-and-white stock photo on the wall. Nonna Dora is a real 85-year-old woman who comes into her namesake restaurant to make fresh pasta every morning. Everything at this Kips Bay restaurant looks amazing, and everyone is always claiming that their particular bowl of pillowy carbohydrates is to die for. You’ll see many people order an extra pasta dish to share, and this is a perfectly reasonable move.

Stop by Noodle Pudding on a reasonably warm day, and the big front windows might be open, letting a breeze run through the old-school, Brooklyn Heights dining room. Start your meal here with the jumbo fritto misto (which comes with anchovies and shishito peppers), get some burrata, and order as much pasta as you can handle. After one evening at this charming spot with checkered tablecloths and servers in ties, you’ll want to become a regular.

When it comes to eating out in NYC, you almost always have to compromise in some way—but not at LaRina. At this casual restaurant in Fort Greene, you don’t just get great pasta, great prices, or a great patio. You get all three of those things. Their menu changes often, but if it's available, get the smoked spaghetti. LaRina is somewhere you can walk into on a random weeknight for dinner, and you'll feel like a lucky person every time you're here.

photo credit: Michael's of Brooklyn

Michael's of Brooklyn review image
8.1

Michael's of Brooklyn

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You get the feeling that a lot of special moments have happened at Michael’s, an old school Italian restaurant that opened in 1964 on the edge of Marine Park. The service is polished, there’s a live piano player, and every table is draped with white tablecloths. Pick any classic dish, and you’ll be happy. If you want something in a garlicky tomato sauce, choose a pasta shape, and pair it with puttanesca. Next, eat some veal scaloppini in a white wine sauce with tons of shrimp.

When Danny Meyer's Roman trattoria Maialino moved from Gramercy (its home for over a decade) to a new location in Nomad, we were concerned. But we shouldn't have been. This place still serves some of the best spaghettini alle vongole in New York City, and other worthwhile staples—like the cacio e pepe and suckling pig—remain on the menu. The new space in the bottom of the Redbury Hotel is nearly as charming as the old iteration, and, with its dim lighting and terrazzo floors, it's an ideal venue for an Italian date night.

SoleLuna is a charming Sunnyside restaurant where you can have a coffee at the bar during the day or stop by later at night when the space fills up with locals sharing simple pastas and bottles of wine. This is a quintessential neighborhood restaurant where they keep the menu simple and the owner comes to check on you wherever you’re sitting. The menu has staples like a basic lasagna and a fresh, bright pollo al limone—but pay special attention to the dinner specials. Past favorites have included an inexplicably flavorful octopus-and-mango salad and a creamy gorgonzola fregola.

Do you want to sit at a table for six even though you’re only a party of two? Does some bacon sound good in a bacon-less spinach fettuccine? The team at this Italian spot on Staten Island will accommodate any reasonable request—and the food here is really good. Order the perfectly al dente rigatoni with crispy bits of prosciutto, and don't leave without eating the outstanding beef Wellington. When you experience the “whatever makes you happy” attitude for yourself, you’ll see why so many tables around you are celebrating special occasions.

If the sheer number of Italian spots on Arthur Avenue gives you a feeling of paralysis because you can’t decide where to go, we’re here to make your decision easy. Head to Zero Otto Nove. Order the insalata di mare with eight different types of seafood in addition to the comforting baked rigatoni and meatballs smothered with melted mozzarella. Try to get a table in the main dining room, which is painted to look like a courtyard in Italy. (It’s a little cheesy, but charming nonetheless.)

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