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Dopolavoro La Foce
Photograph: Courtesy Alfredo Falvo

The best restaurants in Italy

The essential places to dine in the country now

James Manning
Livia Hengel
Edited by
James Manning
Written by
Livia Hengel
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We know the idea of “best restaurants” is relative, and controversial. It’s nearly impossible to settle on the best restaurants in a single city, let alone the best restaurants in an entire country! But we’re up for a challenge, and after eating our way through Italy, we have some favorites that we promise you are very, very good. Located up and down the boot, these eateries serve exceptionally well-executed regional cuisine in beautiful, unique settings. From mountain lodges and seaside bistros to fine-dining and casual trattorias, here are the 20 best restaurants in Italy.

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Best restaurants in Italy

Amalfi Coast

Lo Scoglio is an enduring favorite on the Amalfi Coast thanks to its honest cuisine, laid-back atmosphere, and stunning scenery. Located in a tiny seaside village on the Amalfi Coast, the De Simone family has been serving coastal classics like caprese salad, gnocchi alla sorrentina and spaghetti with seafood since 1958.

Naples

Naples may be home to over 800 pizzerias, but one establishment stands out from the crowd thanks to the vision and creativity of Ciro Oliva, its 3rd generation owner. Concettina ai Tre Santi is the only restaurant to serve a pizza tasting menu paired with niche wines – taking the city’s most popular street food and turned it into a fine-dining experience.

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Venissa

Venice

A world away from the crowds of St. Mark’s Square lies Venissa, an elegant wine resort set within the Venice Lagoon. Here, you can sip rare wine made from the ancient Dorona grapes once enjoyed by the Venetian Dodges (and nearly extinct after the great flood of 1966) and savor contemporary cuisine at Venissa’s Michelin-starred restaurant or informal osteria.

Florence

Just steps from the Duomo di Firenze, Regina Bistecca is an elegant restaurant that offers a modern spin of traditional Tuscan cuisine. Its crowning glory is undoubtedly its famous Florentine steak which is dry-aged for a minimum 21 days, cooked on a charcoal grill and served rare. The menu also features a wide variety antipasti and sides to accompany the main attraction.

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Rome

A neo-trattoria set in Rome’s industrial Ostiense district, Trattoria Pennestri prepares Roman classics with a twist — thoughtfully paired alongside a wine list that favors small, local producers from the Lazio region. The appetizers, pastas and mains are delectable, but be sure to save room for dessert. The chocolate mousse served with rosemary and sea salt is sublime.

Bologna

Affectionately known as “la Grassa” (“the fat”) for its superlative cuisine, Bologna is a haven for foodies and home to some of Italy’s most cherished dishes. One of the best places to enjoy tortellini, tagliatelle and lasagne is at Trattoria dal Biassanot, a cozy bistro with a secret view overlooking one of the city's canals.

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Bolzano

Set within the Dolomites on the border of Italy and Austria, Restaurant Pretzhof is an idyllic mountain lodge famed for its hearty South Tyrolese cuisine. There's no menu, as ingredients are all sourced seasonally and locally, but the staff are expert storytellers and happy to accommodate any requests.

Siena

Built as a recreational center for the workers of the next-door La Foce estate (one of the most beautiful gardens in all of Italy) Dopolavoro La Foce is now a friendly farm-to-table restaurant and bar that serves first-rate seasonal dishes in the Tuscan countryside. You’ll find homemade pici with ragù, local pecorino cheeses with marmalades, and an ample wine list.

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Chieti

If you’ve never dined in a restaurant on stilts, you’re missing out. Italy’s Adriatic Coast, from Abruzzo to Puglia, is famous for its “trabocchi”: wooden platforms set above the sea which functioned as fishing machines. Today, many have been converted into casual restaurants serving fresh fish of all kinds — from squid and octopus to anchovies and mussels. One of our favorites is Trabocco Punta Cavalluccio which serves a daily fixed menu.

Val di Noto

Named for its chef Carmelo Chiaramonte, Caro Melo Osteria is a rustic outdoor restaurant close to the sea in southern Sicily. An ambitious project, it reflects the chef's deep and experimentation with local ingredients, which include cactus paddles served alongside stone fruits, or almonds blended into a chilled soup.

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Le Langhe

Home to Italy’s most celebrated red wines, not to mention the world’s costliest white truffles, Piedmont is a gastronomic paradise. A short drive from Barolo, dine at the 12th century Hotel Castello di Sinio to taste refined dishes like roasted duck with prosciutto, fennel and rhubarb, or wild mushroom souffle with cheese fondue and black truffles.

Altamura

If you want a taste of Italy’s best cheeses, head south to Baby Dicecca in Puglia. Launched by Vito Dicecca, one of the country’s leading cheesemakers, and his partner Roberta De Lia, Baby Dicecca serves some of the best artisanal cheeses in all of Italy. like goat cheese brie, aged blue cheese and the region's famous burrata, alongside yogurt, gelato and other specialties.

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Salento

Set within the 17th century Castello di Ugento (now a luxury hotel) Il Tempo Nuovo is worth the trip down Italy’s heel for a creative of re-interpretation Pugliese cuisine. With a state-of-the-art kitchen that hosts students from the Culinary Institute of America, the restaurant serves refined dishes ricotta gnocchi with urchins and lemon, and herbed gelato with peaches, curry and stracchino cheese.

Camaiore

An atmospheric restaurant set within an old mill overlooking a river, Osteria Candalla promises an unforgettable dining experience in Tuscany’s northern Versilia region. Start with cocktails beneath banana trees down at the river before moving into the restaurant to taste dishes like cocoa tagliatelle with duck and orange and baked pecorino with pears, walnuts and honey.

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Milan

Offal may divide eaters into fans and foes, but the “quinto quarto” (5th quarter) is firmly established in Italian cuisine and enjoying a revival at tables around the country. Trippa, a pared down trattoria with retro décor and a creative spin on innards, is the place to try them. Start with an order of fried tripe before tasting Milan's famous saffron risotto with bone marrow.  

Bevagna

One of Umbria’s many pretty hilltop towns, Bevagna is worth a visit not just for its charm – but for a taste of the region’s hearty cuisine. Antiche Sere, a casual eatery and wine bar, serves the kind of honest food your nonna would make. Omelets with truffles, tagliatelle with asparagus and guanciale, braised beef — and delectable porcini mushrooms (when they're in season).

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Genova

A favorite restaurant with the locals, Trattoria Osvaldo lies in the charming seaside town of Boccadasse, just a stone's throw from Genova. It excels at fresh seafood platters though you can also order Liguria’s specialty pastas, including troffie al pesto and stuffed pansoti with a creamy walnut sauce. 

Catania

Celebrated for its excellent cuisine, Sicily is one of the most delicious regions in all of Italy. Unsurprisingly, it is also home to some of the country’s best street foods. From cannoli filled with whipped ricotta and creamy almond granita to deep-fried arancini stuffed with pistachios, ragù or eggplant, taste the best sweet and savory treats in Sicily at Pasticceria Savia, a historic bakery that dating back to 1897.

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Cagliari

An innovative concept for an ancient island, Cucina.Eat is a hybrid wine bar and dining space that unites local producers, chefs, and eaters in Cagliari. Here, foodies of all kinds can mingle over a glass of wine or a dish and learn about diverse flavors in the territory. With a take-away panino joint and a food truck, Cucina.Eat is a place with no borders but a simple philosophy: food unites us all.

An artisanal pasta factory that dating back to 1872, Pastificio Defilippis is now a restaurant and delicatessen that prepares decadent fresh egg pasta daily. It’s the perfect play to order Piedmont's famous stuffed "agnolotti del plin" served with seasonal fillings, like artichoke and fondue, mushrooms and sage, or gorgonzola and pear.

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