The best Italian restaurants in New York

These top-notch Italian restaurants are serving the finest pizzas, pastas and antipasti in New York City

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Corn ravioli at Locanda Verde

Italian food is engrained in the food fabric of New York City. Whether you’re craving world-class pasta, fresh-from-the-oven pizza, or a showstopping spread of salumi and cheese, there’s a place in Gotham to get your fix. These are the best New York restaurants for Italian food both rustic and high-flying.

al di là

Critics' pick

Aspiring restaurateurs in Park Slope should study this convivial Fifth Avenue pioneer. Though it opened in 1998, al di là remains unsurpassed in the neighborhood. Affable owner Emiliano Coppa handles the inevitable wait (due to the limited reservations policy) with panache. The wait is worth it for co-owner and chef Anna Klinger’s northern-Italian dishes. It would be hard to improve on her braised rabbit with black olives on steaming polenta; even simple pastas, such as the homemade tagliatelle al ragù, are superb.

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Park Slope

All'onda

Restaurateur Chris Cannon's much-anticipated return, All’onda, isn’t pure Italian, but a modern hybrid, tinting the food of Venice with the flavors of Japan. The mash-up comes courtesy of chef Chris Jaeckle, who earned his Italian stripes at Ai Fiori, after sharpening his Japanese skills at Morimoto. Delicate border-crossing cuisine unfolds inside a duplex, sleek in cool shades of gray and polished wood. Jaeckle’s Italian cooking leans to the East with a lyrical hamachi crudo tickled by olive oil and soy, or creamy fried sweetbreads spun smoky by fluttering bonito flakes.

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Greenwich Village

Bar Primi

Andrew Carmellini’s latest venture, along with fellow chef Sal Lamboglia, doesn’t just go small—he goes primi. Piccolini, antipasti and house-made pastas (ruffled-bell campanelle, half-moon mezzaluna) all share menu real estate, with one notable exclusion: entrées. Meaty mains are regulated to nightly specials only, like the succulent Thursday night lamb chops, instead spotlighting that feast-starting first act (primi piatti). And rightly so.

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East Village

Carbone

The Italian-American supper clubs immortalized in mob movies and sepia-toned photos were never as dreamy as they seemed. The young guns behind Carbone, though, have moved beyond sentimentality in their homage to these restaurants by flipping the whole genre onto its head. The enormous menu reads like an encyclopedia of red-checkered classics. But co-chefs Torrisi and Carbone have made such dramatic improvements, you’ll barely recognize anything.

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Greenwich Village

Del Posto

Critics' pick

With four-star ambitions and prices to match, Mario Batali’s cavernous restaurant has become nothing less than the city’s top destination for refined, upscale Italian cuisine. The clubby dining room, serenaded nightly by a twinkling pianist on a grand piano feels like the lobby of a very opulent grand hotel. The most showstopping dishes, intended for sharing, include hunks of lamb and veal and pitch-perfect risotto for two. The all-Italian wine list is suitably encyclopedic and exorbitantly priced.

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Chelsea

Frankies 457 Spuntino

Critics' pick

This casual spuntino was an instant classic when it debuted in Carroll Gardens in 2004. The mavericks behind the place—collectively referred to as “the Franks” Castronovo and Falcinelli—turn out an impressive selection of cheeses, antipasti and cured meats, distinctive salads and exceptional pastas to a mostly local crowd. Cavatelli with hot sausage and browned sage butter is a staple, as are the flawless meatballs—feather-light orbs stuffed into a sandwich or served solo, lavished with raisins and pine nuts.

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Carroll Gardens

Gottino

Critics' pick

With its long marble bar, piddling five tables and menu of choice Italian nibbles, Gottino isn't so much a restaurant as a very well-accoutred wine bar. Divided into salumi and cheese on one side, and prepared bites on the other, the menu provides multiple opportunities for memorable bites. Thick-cut cacciatorini (cured pork sausage) luxuriates in a shallow pool of olive oil infused with oregano and garlic, while in another wee dish, eye-poppingly tangy white anchovies keep company with celery, parsley and preserved lemon.

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West Village

Il Buco

The old-world charm of well-worn communal tables, dangling copper cookware and flickering lamps may help explain why a 20-year-old restaurant is still tough to get into on a Saturday night. Seasonal produce shapes the menu of executive chef Joel Hough. Dunk the warm country bread in Umbrian olive oils produced exclusively for Il Buco. You’ll have no trouble finding a wine to match your meal; Il Buco’s list is one of the city’s best.

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East Village

Locanda Verde

Critics' pick

Owner Robert De Niro swapped his train-wreck trattoria, Ago, for this blockbuster replacement helmed by chef Andrew Carmellini (A Voce). Carmellini’s bold family-style fare is best enjoyed as a bacchanalian banquet. A single charred octopus tentacle served with tangy romesco won’t last long in the middle of the table. Nor will the chef’s ravioli—as delicate as silk handkerchiefs and oozing pungent robiola. Locanda is the rare Italian restaurant with desserts worth saving room for: Try the rich, crumbly brown-butter plum cake.

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Tribeca

Maialino

Critics' pick

Danny Meyer’s first full-on foray into Italian cuisine focuses on the foods of Rome. The menu, from chef Nick Anderer, sets a new standard with faithful facsimiles of dishes specific to the area. Antipasti include delicate baby artichokes—deep-fried in olive oil—served with a pungent anchovy-bread sauce. Among the pastas that follow is an excellent spaghetti alla carbonara with egg yolks, guanciale and heaps of black pepper. Entrées, like the namesake Maialino, a golden, fennel-rubbed piglet haunch presented with potatoes basted in pig fat, are a reminder of just how seductive authenticity can be.

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Gramercy & Flatiron

Marta

Danny Meyer's getting into the pizza game—the restaurant mogul (Union Square Cafe, Shake Shack) has teamed with his Maialino chef Nick Anderer for this rustic Roman pizzeria inside the Martha Washington Hotel. A self-proclaimed Rome fanatic, Anderer fell in love with the capital city's thin, crackly-crusted rounds, which he pulls from two wood-burning ovens and a nine-foot-long over-embers grill. Along with the traditional pies (Margherita, Napoletana), the toque turns out outré renditions like an okra-and-lamb-sausage number and one with pecorino, crumbled potato and crispy guanciale.

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Gramercy & Flatiron

Osteria Morini

Critics' pick

Chef Michael White (Alto, Marea) is one of New York’s most prolific and successful Italian-American chefs, and this terrific downtown homage to a classic Bolognese tavern is the most accessible restaurant in his stable. The toque spent seven years cooking in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, and his connection to the area surfaces in the rustic food. Handmade pastas—frail ricotta gnocchi in light tomato cream, fat tortelli bundles oozing an absurdly rich mix of braised meats—are fantastic across the board.

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Soho

Peasant

Critics' pick

The open kitchen at Peasant is straight out of a fairy tale—a magical brick workshop where chef-owner Frank DeCarlo presides over a crackling fire. Fittingly, rustic dishes are best: Choose shimmery sardines; sizzling, golden-skinned hen; or pleasant suckling pig liver, all pulled from the wood-burning oven.

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Chinatown & Little Italy

Porsena

Sara Jenkins has built a strong local following for her comforting Italian cooking, and she plays the nonna role admirably at this modest spot—a throwback to the cheerful, reliable trattorias that used to define the East Village. Pasta is really the best thing going here. Toothsome anelloni rings are tossed in a generous jumble of wilted mustard greens and house-made spicy lamb sausage, while a soothing mac and cheese features cannolicchi curls gooey with sharp and pungent scraps from the restaurant’s cheese plate.

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East Village

Salumeria Rosi

Critics' pick

This tiny uptown Italian market-restaurant hybrid is helmed by one of the city’s most eccentric food personalities, chef Cesare Casella. The toque—who doubles as a front-of-house impresario—offers assaggi (small, sometimes minuscule, plates) like a rich lasagna al forno. But the namesake artisanal meats are probably the best reason to visit (try the prosciutto and mortadella). Desserts like wine-poached pears don’t invite lingering, but the occasional complimentary shot of limoncello does.

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Upper West Side

Comments

4 comments
Edmond V
Edmond V

It is always exciting when you find reviews for new restaurants to try. I love Italian food, and I am very picky about what I like. It's nice to get a big list like this as well. I haven't tried any of these places before, but I am really excited to.

Kelvin H
Kelvin H

The sausage...isa so good