Must-try Italian restaurants in Chicago for pizza, pasta and more

From cozy neighborhood trattorias to fancy splurges, these are the best Italian restaurants in Chicago
Chicago's Italian food scene is wonderfully diverse—from old-school joints that still serve grandma's secret Sunday sauce to swanky newcomers that are putting modern twists on classic dishes. If you're craving gnocchi, arancini, meatballs and tiramisu, you’ve come to the right place: We scoured Chicago to find the top Italian restaurants around. In honor of a city that's just as proud of its delicate house-made pastas as its huge, family-style bowls of noodles, we present our guide to carbo-loading like an Italian in Chicago. Psst: You can round out your meal at one of Chicago's top Italian ice shops.
RECOMMENDED: Find more of the best Chicago restaurants
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Panna Cotta
Photograph: Nick Murway
Restaurants, Italian
Osteria Langhe
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Regional Piedmontese cuisine is Osteria Langhe's focus, and that means ingredients like truffles, cream and eggy pastas appear on the menu. The space is warm and cozy, and you'll want to order a bottle of well-chosen wine for the table before diving into the food. The plin, miniature agnolotti filled with cheese, are beautiful and light; the beef tartare is impeccably seasoned; and the vitello tonnato tops tender slices of beef with a vibrant tuna citrus caper aioli. In case you needed further proof that Osteria Langhe has elevated Chicago's Italian restaurant scene, order the creamy panna cotta to finish the evening.
icon-location-pin Logan Square
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Hake at Spiaggia.
Photograph: Martha Williams
Restaurants, Italian
Spiaggia
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Want to skip rent this month and have the best Italian fine dining experience in town? Splurge here. For its 30th birthday in 2014, Spiaggia received a refresh—new chef, new somm, new look. The space has been redone—the entrance features bottles upon bottles of wine, the tables all face the windows and offer views of Michigan Avenue, there are new chandeliers and everything is brighter and fresher. The menu is now a tasting menu, with well-cooked proteins, fresh crudos and house-made pastas (don't worry, the gnocchi with ricotta and black truffle sauce remains). 
icon-location-pin Streeterville
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LaScarola.venue.jpg
Photograph: Erica Gannett
Restaurants, Italian
La Scarola
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It’s okay to splash a little red sauce on the butcher-paper-topped tables in this raucous storefront. Old friends and big families admire the autographed celebrity photos and shots of the owner’s family tacked to the frescoed walls. Smiling waiters squeeze between tables juggling huge plates of eggplant parmigiana and bottles of decent Italian red. Order any of the appropriately garlicky pastas and a plate of escarole and beans for the table; the leftovers will warm up just fine tomorrow.
icon-location-pin River West/West Town
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Spiaggia Cafe
Photograph: Jeff Kauck
Restaurants, Italian
Cafe Spiaggia
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If you want to dine at Spiaggia but just can’t foot the bill, your solution is this adjacent sibling café. The ingredients come from the same kitchen, so they’re just as impeccable, and the attention to regional Italian tradition is just as detailed. The room is more casual, prices are lower, and service is less formal, making it a perfect lunch escape from Mag Mile shopping. Save room for incredible pastas, like gnocchi pillows in perfect wild-boar ragù or strands of bucatini tossed with 'nduja.
icon-location-pin Streeterville
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Restaurants, Seafood
Nico Osteria
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Italian goes glitzy at Gold Coast's Nico Osteria, an Italian seafood restaurant from Paul Kahan’s One Off Hospitality. The dining room is gorgeous and packed in with people to see and be seen—and also dig into pristine crudo, whole fish and lobster spaghetti. Amaro-based cocktails just add to the restaurant's appeal.
icon-location-pin Gold Coast
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<p>Shrimp scampi is on the menu at Formento's.</p>
Restaurants, Italian
Formento's
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B Hospitality Co. (The Bristol, Balena), offers well-executed takes on classic Italian-American dishes, like shrimp scampi, fettuccine alfredo and chicken Parmesan. It’s a comfortable restaurant—the dining room has an old-school vibe, with red leather banquette seating, white tablecloths and black and white photos affixed to the walls, while the long, curved bar and tin ceiling provide a dark, comfortable place to sip classics like Manhattans and Negronis.
icon-location-pin West Loop
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Monteverde
Photograph: Galdones Photography
Restaurants, Italian
Monteverde
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Monteverde is warm and welcoming, making it ideal for a boozy weekend brunch or an indulgent date night dinner. It'd be a crime to visit and not try the house-made pastas—from wok-fried arrabbiata with gulf shrimp to the massive egg yolk-filled raviolo to the pecorino-showered cacio whey pepe. Balance out the meal with a few piattini (small plates) and stuzzichini (snacks); just be sure to save room for dessert. 
icon-location-pin West Loop
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ViaggioRistorante.venue.jpg
Martha Williams
Restaurants, Italian
Viaggio Ristorante & Lounge
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Located on the outskirts of the West Loop, this Italian institution is known for its meatball salad, Sunday pork gravy and brick chicken. Yeah, it's fair to say that tradition runs deep here. Though it's not as shiny as its surrounding counterparts, Viaggio is the neighborhood's established gem that needn't brag on itself. 
icon-location-pin West Loop
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9
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Restaurants, Italian
Riccardo Trattoria
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One of the best Italian restaurants in town isn’t tucked away on some corner in Little Italy. Surprisingly, it’s smack-dab in vanilla Lincoln Park. Chef Riccardo Michi’s family founded the Bice restaurant empire in Milan, so he knows a thing or two about regional Italian food. Don’t miss the orecchiette with wild-boar sausage, garlicky rapini and pecorino cheese or the rack of lamb. Become a regular and the Italian waiters might cap off your meal with a slice of ricotta cheesecake.
icon-location-pin Lincoln Park
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Sicillian Seafood Salad at il Porcellino
Restaurants, Italian
il Porcellino
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We admittedly frequent il Porcellino for its stellar Aperitivo Hour, which features $6 drinks and $7 loaded cheese boards Monday through Thursday from 4 to 6pm. But after a few negronis, we're ready to order something hearty from the dinner menu. No-fail Italian favorites include the lemony roasted artichoke, a heaping bowl of rigatoni alla vodka, the massive baked burrata lasagna and the chicken marsala. 
icon-location-pin River North
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11
Restaurants, Italian
Franco’s
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Don’t waste your time searching for the crudo and antipasto. This is Bridgeport, where locals eat thick, roasted pork chops (how one person could eat the order of two is beyond us) and big bowls of penne tossed with spicy pesto, capers and succulent nibs of prosciutto. If you must, temper your order with a light insalata, like the roasted beet salad or the super-fresh caprese.
icon-location-pin Armour Square
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Restaurants, Italian
Davanti Enoteca
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Going Italian for dinner doesn't mean committing to one heaping bowl of pasta. If you're looking to nibble on a bit of everything, Davanti Enoteca offers a delectable menu full of shareable treats. Gather your nearest and dearest and order the Pizza D.O.C. (tomatoes, hand-pulled mozzarella and basil), an order of ricotta and honeycomb toast, cacio e pepe and the prosciutto-veal meatballs. Buon appetito.
icon-location-pin Little Italy, UIC
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SaporiTrattoria.venue02.jpg
Photograph: Max Herman
Restaurants, Italian
Sapori Trattoria
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As Lincoln Park’s go-to Italian joint for all occasions—witness the awkward Internet date in one corner, the anniversary celebration in another—it’s easy to get the impression that people are coming here out of habit. In fact, the throngs of people are attracted to the warm, homey room and the housemade pastas like spaghetti with veal meatballs and fennel-flecked Italian sausage, or sumptuous gnocchi paired with a lively pesto sauce. They’re so tasty you’ll realize that the locals’ habit is for good reason.
icon-location-pin Lincoln Park
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RPM Italian octopus dish
Photograph: Anjali M. Pinto
Restaurants, Italian
RPM Italian
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A collaboration between celebrity couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic and Chicago restaurateurs R.J., Jerrod and Molly Melman, RPM Italian is the kind of place that's practically made for an anniversary dinner or a birthday celebration. Start with orders of the prime beef meatballs and fritto misto before jumping into the house-made pastas (you can't go wrong with the creamy carbonara). The gluten-free menu still offers plenty of options, including six pasta dishes crafted using gluten-free fettuccine. When dessert rolls around, find room for the light and refreshing Amalfi lemon cake.
icon-location-pin River North
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Eduardos.venue.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams
Restaurants, Italian
Eduardo's Enoteca
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This tiny Gold Coast restaurant makes the perfect backdrop for date night. But after one look at the menu, you'll realize that the cutesy interior is backed up by fantastic fare. Start with a plate of artisanal cheese and charcuterie before diving into the soul-warming minestrone, heirloom tomato salad with burrata, decadent lobster ravioli and rustic hand-stretched pizzas. Psst: The best way to try the outstanding wine selection is through one of five flights for $16 each. 
icon-location-pin Gold Coast
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Photo courtesy Quartino
Restaurants, Italian
Quartino
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This always-hopping River North dining room is decked out with reclaimed wood and subway tiles, vintage mirrors and mismatched chairs. Everything on the menu is built to share, so stock your table with pancetta-wrapped dates, veal meatballs, cavatelli topped with fresh ricotta, asparagus risotto and a few liters of vino. 
icon-location-pin River North
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Sabatinos2.Venue.jpg
Photograph: Erica Gannett
Restaurants, Italian
Sabatino’s
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Few restaurants hold the unexpected magic of a time machine, but step inside this North Side Italian gem and the spell is set. Sabatino’s has all the retro charm that today’s hip Italian spots can’t seem to echo—servers are outfitted in tuxedos, the tables are set with fresh flowers and thick leather menus and violinists serenade diners in the candlelight. When ordering, it’s hard to make a mistake amid the menu of old-school classics, like tender veal saltimbocca in a sage wine sauce, or the baked Alaska for two, which is lit at the table with festive sparklers. Any occasional imperfection seems charming in the atmospheric glow, bolstered by excellent red sauce and generous pours of wine. Even after all these years, Sabatino’s still has us enchanted.
icon-location-pin Irving Park
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Italian.AutreMonde.jpg
Photograph: Jason Little
Restaurants, Mediterranean
Autre Monde
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Four Spiaggia alums opened this Mediterranean spot, and in doing so have single-handedly made Berwyn a dining destination. Here, knots of burrata are sprinkled with tarragon from the restaurant’s greenhouse, crackly flatbreads are covered in crispy pancetta and rapini, and a tart shell filled with smooth pureed chickpeas is a provocatively savory, perfect dessert. Best of all are the handmade pastas, which are as elegant as any in the city. Yet the fact that they’re at a humble neighborhood trattoria in Berwyn makes them taste even better.
icon-location-pin Suburbs
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Anteprima.venue.jpg
Restaurants, Italian
Anteprima
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What’s not to like about this little Andersonville restaurant? It’s cute, it’s bustling, service is helpful, and the food borders between good and great. Year-round don’t-miss items include the tender, lemon-kissed grilled octopus; the salumi plate; and the value-packed antipasti platter. Like any good trattoria, Anteprima rotates much of the menu according to season, but house-made pastas prove as perfect with rabbit ragù in cold weather as they do with bright fava beans and ricotta in spring. In warm weather, seek out the secluded back patio.
icon-location-pin Andersonville
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Restaurants, Italian
Club Lago
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Once, a chimney crashed through the ceiling and obliterated the kitchen of this red-sauce stalwart. But Club Lago persevered, just as it has for more than 60 years. Despite a fairly recent renovation, the place looks exactly the same as always, and it's even staffed by many of the same servers who have been there for decades. So follow suit and regress to old habits: massive portions of lasagna, soft roast beef on white bread, carafes of watery Chianti and—this is crucial—some pasta with Lago’s meat sauce.
icon-location-pin River North
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