The best Italian restaurants in Boston

For authentic trattoria classics and upscale regional fare, consult our guide to the city's best Italian restaurants

Photograph: David Loftus
Your insiders' guide to Boston's best Italian restaurants

Many diners seeking spaghetti, pizza or veal scaloppine will simply head for the North End, Boston’s “Little Italy.” But some of the best Boston restaurants happen to have culinary roots in the boot. There are excellent Italian restaurants all over the city, from refined Beacon Hill to evolving Fort Point.

RECOMMENDED: See the best Boston restaurants by cuisine

Best Italian restaurants in Boston

No. 9 Park

Critics' pick

Although the word "timeless" is much bandied about by No.9's admirers, Barbara Lynch's flagship can also (despite its head-on view of Boston Common) seem oddly placeless, thanks to its sleekly cosmopolitan air. The former mansion's good looks demonstrate how "smooth" and "sharp" can be synonyms; the service—from the remarkable bartenders to the splendid sommelier, Cat Silirie—hits the heights of professionalism. And the French/Italian-based cuisine? Rarely less than luscious, for all its elegance—especially the finely wrought pastas.

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Beacon Hill

Grotto

Sink below street level in Beacon Hill for a cozy and decadent Italian meal surrounded by exposed brick, shelves of wine and locally sourced artwork. Tables are crowded close (but not too close) and lights are turned down low, and the menu is classic Italian with a creative twist. For a place that just begs to be at the top of your date night destination list, a three-course prix fixe menu of sizeable portions (available seven days a week) is almost too good to be true. Ask the friendly, knowledgeable staff for suggested wine pairings.

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Beacon Hill

Bricco

With name chefs blowing in and out of its kitchen, this dark, suave neighbourhood pioneer of alta cucina has hit its share of rough patches over the years. But its capacity for comebacks is astounding. Give it a go when you're feeling flush—chances are you'll score some marvelously silky pasta (the meatball-studded timpano is a wonder), rounded out by intriguing seasonal contorni-like foie gras-laced butternut squash or potatoes mashed with pink grapefruit. Meanwhile, the allure of the obscure tints the all-Italian wine list.

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The North End

Sportello

Critics' pick

Tucked away in Fort Point, Chef Barbara Lynch's sleek iteration of the classic diner offers up supremely tasty trattoria-inspired Italian cuisine. Sit at the large communal counter that showcases the action in the kitchen, or grab a bite to-go from the bakery counter's rotating selection of pastries, soups and sandwiches and find a bench along the channel for a waterside picnic.

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The Waterfront

Rialto

Critics' pick

For its tenth birthday in 2006, Jody Adams gave Harvard Square's premier celebration destination a head-to-toe makeover. The now breezy, spruce interior mirrors a menu stripped of its former pan-Mediterranean flourishes to reveal a regional Italian core. Which isn't to imply that the new order is minimalist—Adams' cooking remains as luscious as ever, staying true to its rustic roots while branching out in deluxe directions.

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Harvard Square

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