The Best Italian Restaurants In NYC

Where to eat Italian in NYC when you aren’t willing to settle.
a few pastas and other dishes from Roscioli in NYC

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

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 18 restaurants. It also could have included more old-school spots, or places that specialize in pizza (that’s a whole different list, so there's no need for you start messaging 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.


photo credit: Teddy Wolff


West Village

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightPrivate DiningSmall PlatesWalk-Ins
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Via Carota, one of the best restaurants in NYC, 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).

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.

photo credit: Kate Previte

From the folks at Carbone who brought you the $89 veal parm with a side of paparazzi, this Noho restaurant is a full-on production. It’s big, it’s flashy, and, against all odds, it actually has a personality. In a loft-like room with emerald green columns and ceilings high enough to accommodate a game of volleyball, you can enjoy rotisserie lamb, Jamaican beef patty-inspired cavatelli, and a platter of airy zeppole with a variety of aged hams. Torrisi is more Italian-ish than straight-up Italian, and the more-inventive dishes are just as good as the classics. For a fun celebratory dinner, this is one of your best options.

Whenever we recommend Emilio’s Ballato to someone, they say, “I’ve always wanted to go there, but I need somewhere that takes reservations.” No. No you don’t. It’s high time you wait in line at this exemplary old-school Italian restaurant in Nolita for baked clams, bolognese, and veal parm. And if you do end up sitting next to someone famous while you’re here, consider that an added bonus but certainly not the point. For the shortest wait time, come early on a weekday, bring a group, and share as much of the menu as you can.

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Formerly located on Grove Street, in a room the size of a shipping container, I Sodi now has a larger home around the corner on Bleecker. It’s not as charming as the original, but now you have a better chance of snagging a table, so we’ll call it a draw. Like the plain farmhouse interior, the Tuscan food here isn’t anything too elaborate. Don’t skip the simple vegetable dishes, which are often just a pretense to eat cheese and olive oil, and focus on the pasta. The tagliatelle al limone is our top choice, but we understand if the 21-layer lasagna is calling your name. It’s famous. We get it. Bar seats are reserved for walk-ins, and you may even be able to grab a walk-in table for an overachieving impromptu date night.

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.

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.

photo credit: Marea



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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 into Ci Siamo, you'll feel like you're checking into a nice hotel, about to start a vacation in Milan (despite the fact that you still have that meeting on "team dynamics" to get to after lunch). 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.

Saying a meal will make you feel transported to Italy is frankly dumb, because at the end of it you’ll still be in NYC, where people don’t drink nearly enough red wine for their health. But when you sit at the bar at Roscioli, and watch a chef pour parmesan onto a steamy bowl of very al dente carbonara, you can get pretty damn close. This corner spot in Soho has a tasting menu in the cave-like downstairs, but we prefer the sunny upstairs alimentari. As at its Roman counterpart, a dinner there feels like eating in a deli, but a fancy one, which sells luscious tomato sauce, and perfectly marbled mortadella.

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight Dinner

If you snatched a trattoria out of Rome and placed it on a corner in Mapleton, Brooklyn, next to a barbershop, and across the street from a restaurant called Pizza Daddy, you’d get Ortobello’s. Not only does the family-run spot from the '70s make the best chicken parmesan in all five boroughs, but their linguine with clams has whole garlic cloves in it that get crushed lightly and cooked gently. Ortobello’s is just as worthy of a birthday dinner as it is a Sunday night meal. Especially if you need a break from tiny bowls of three to five agnolotti.

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 garlic flatbread and gnocchi with provolone—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.

Sometimes, we dream that we’re in an old farmhouse in the Italian countryside. And we can come pretty close to recreating this dream 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. The menu changes seasonally, but you can't go wrong with the bistecca and lamb chops, and if they happen to have the risotto on the menu, you must order it.

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 roasted mushrooms with pancetta and a fried egg, 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 wagyu carpaccio is the best around.

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.

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 86-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.

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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