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Photograph: Courtesy Boia De/David Bley

The definitive list of Miami’s best Italian restaurants

We ate, we slurped, we took a nap—seriously, this one was tough, but we’ve got the 17 best Italian restaurants in Miami

Virginia Gil
Eric Barton
Written by
Virginia Gil
&
Eric Barton
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Market research shows there are a million people in this country working in 100,000 Italian restaurants, and, without actual scientific data, we think that a good half of them are in Miami. OK, yes, that’s hyperbole, but it’s just true that if you look out your window right now there’s probably an osteria or trattoria run by some famous chef not far away (and you thought we were going to say a Cuban restaurant). It's a good thing for any fan of dining out, because all those Italian restaurants in Miami mean lots of choices the next time you’re jonesing for red sauce. That said, it's also hard to pick a fave, which is why we ended up with so many on this list: These are places we simply could not skip, the absolute best 17 Italian restaurants in Miami.

Best Italian restaurants in Miami

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Coral Gables
  • price 3 of 4

The folks from Michelin will toss around stars in Miami for the first time in 2022, and they ought to be looking at this outpost of a D.C. power crowd favorite. Miami’s Fiola is a restaurant that seems almost faultless: a staff that knows the perfect level of attentive but not obtrusive service, a wine program as good as any, and cocktails made with serious care. All that is good and fine but then there’s also the creative and often perfectly executed dishes put out by chef Danny Ganem, a Miami native who likes to reinvent and rethink dishes, like his served-upright lasagna with short rib and, if you can believe it, eel. All this greatness will cost you—a hundred bucks a head, easy—so just remember Fiola next time dad or the boss offers to pick up the bill.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Buena Vista
  • price 2 of 4

Perhaps you’re wondering why we’d put a place that doesn’t even claim to be Italian on a list of the best Italian restaurants in Miami. Just go there, order Luci’s chopped salad, the baked clams with nduja and lemon, parmesan brodo, saffron tagliatelle, pappardelle with rabbit, and crispy tiramisu. No, these aren’t dishes brought from the Old World—they are better, creative, delicious. Trust us, this is stellar Italian-inspired cooking.

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This is a hotel restaurant that, especially before it gets full, feels like it’s less soulful and more corporate. For that, it’s not top on this list. But when the food arrives, you’ll forget about the not-perfect vibe. The Roman-style artichokes with herbed yogurt and grilled branzino are great. But we really need to talk about the cappelletti, with truffled ricotta and prosciutto and melted butter, a dish so delicate you’ll want to eat it slowly to take in every single bit of it.

  • Restaurants
  • South Beach
  • price 4 of 4

One of the city’s finest and fanciest restaurants, Casa Tua is a sleek and chic, Italian country-style spot housed in a refurbished 1925 Mediterranean-style two-story home. There are many reasons to dine at Casa Tua, the least of which is the food, which is excellent. Go to brag to your friends, to burn a hole in your wallet (lamb chops are $40, really), to say you did, to charm the pants off your date—there’s at least one sound argument for trying this place once.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • South Beach
  • price 2 of 4

Grab a spot outside, smack in the center of the Sunset Harbour dining scene, which has quietly turned into everyone’s favorite neighborhood. Here, the menu is a mix of semi-authentic Italian, Italian-American classics, dreamed up as a collaboration of Pubbelly Sushi’s José Mendín and former Lucali chef Santo Agnello. Start with the beef carpaccio that’s a combination of textures and an umami explosion with truffles shaved over top; a branzino well grilled and served on a brothy bowl of clams; an eggplant parm bubbling in a cauldron of gooey cheese; and a rigatoni with vodka sauce that might be the best version of it on the beach, or at least the most reasonably priced (hear that, Carbone?).

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Coconut Grove
  • price 2 of 4

This darling, family-owned ristorante doesn’t look like much from the outside. But inside, it’s abuzz with the sound of clinking glasses and fast-talking Italian servers taking orders and maneuvering large plates of fresh pasta about the cozy dining room. Sapore di Mare does the cheese-wheel preparation justice, tossing each dish in individually sized rounds of aged parmesan. Even if you think you don’t want them, get it with truffles. No one ever regrets ordering truffles.

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You might head to Carbone with the intention of not liking it, considering how hard it is just to get a table, and how the bill will likely be more than your next car payment, and the fact that everyone keeps talking about it. But then you start off at the lavishly decorated bar with a martini that’s just shy of perfect, you’re led to the table by a wait staff who gets formality down right, and you realize this place really is something special. The food is no less so, big plates of ribs and peppers, linguine and clams, and the dish they’re known for, a spicy vodka sauce clung to perfectly al dente rigatoni. Yes, this place is a scene, but you’ll suddenly want to be part of it.

  • Restaurants
  • South Beach
  • price 3 of 4

Rustic, dark, cozy—Michael Pirolo’s Macchialina is a laid-back, family-style trattoria serving homey Italian food. It’s in the heart of touristy South Beach but regularly packs in the locals—even the body-conscious ones. Some might say Pirolo’s handmade pasta and fresh seasonal specials are transcendental. First time at the restaurant? The gnocco fritto and the cavatelli Macchialina are required for initiation.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Mid-Beach
  • price 4 of 4

The dish that has brought so many of us to celebrity chef Scott Conant’s restaurant has come to define this place: spaghetti with tomato sauce. It’s really and truly little more than noodles and tomatoes, which you can totally make at home. But it’s also among the most perfectly executed version of it you’ll have, ever. The dish is a bit of an oddball on a menu that’s otherwise more about rich dishes: a cream-forward Sicilian-style ceviche, duck and foie gras ravioli, generously-sauced short rib agnolotti. The thing that brought you, that pasta pomodoro, is alone worth the trip to the far corner of the Fontainebleau.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Downtown
  • price 2 of 4

Fratelli might be the only reason locals venture to sleepy Downtown after regular business hours. The regional Italian restaurant pulls in people from all over with its smiley servers and honest home cooking. The popular fiocchi de pera—tender pockets of fresh pasta filled with pear and taleggio cheese—is so good you’ll want to swim in the creamy sauce and lick the plate once you’re done.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Coral Gables
  • price 2 of 4

Come once and they’ll ask you if you want the same seat over by the window, maybe bring over a welcome glass of something bubbly. Do you want to see the specials board yet or just enjoy the sunset? By the way, the chef is adding truffles to a few dishes. Oh, you just want the same thing you always get, the spaghetti with bottarga and porchetta for your date? It’s like this at either location, Coral Gables or Midtown, where you’ll feel like you’ve found a new neighborhood Italian place, even if this isn’t your neighborhood. It’s good, it’s affordable, the service is stellar, and, yeah, let’s go again next week.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Design District
  • price 3 of 4

MC Kitchen was a pioneer in the then-quiet Design District when it opened its industrial-meets-cozy dining room in 2012. It's still putting out tasty pasta (the strozzapreti with sausage and mushrooms is a winner), creative pizzas (black truffle and brussels sprouts, seriously), and an arm’s length list of desserts (or just go for the fancy cheese plate, because we are in the Design District after all).

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Miami Beach
  • price 3 of 4

The ground-floor restaurant of the members-only club Soho Beach House is the only area that’s open to the public. But you’re not there for the clout, you’re there to eat well. Dining with friends? Split the black truffle pizza. On a date? The large buttonwood trees and string lights make for an idyllic, romantic setting.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Aventura

Sorrento-born Angelo Elia inched his way south, opening restaurants in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale before landing in Aventura for his third location. It’s a splashy, modern space with crystal chandeliers, leather banquettes and folks dressed to the nines. Yet despite all the glitz and glam, Angelo’s menu skews traditional with classic Italian dishes like the kind chef’s grandmother taught him how to make when he was a young boy. Try the chicken parm and pasta a la vodka or lighten things up with an order of the octopus and the branzino. Whether you’re saving your calories or ready to splurge, Angelo’s won’t send you home hungry.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Midtown
  • price 2 of 4

There aren’t many Ligurian restaurants in Miami, but this one holds down the category serving all sorts of house-made focaccia and garlicky pesto signature of the Italian region. Riviera ships the stracchino cheese used in its popular stuffed focaccia straight from Italy every week. For food that’s more authentic, you’ll have to hop a flight to Europe.  

  • Restaurants
  • Downtown
  • price 4 of 4

To sum it up, this Downtown stalwart is Italian fine dining, Miami-style. You go for the uninterrupted water views, $30-plus pasta dishes and servers who occasionally pretend you’re not even there. But wow, ain’t it pretty. Divine culinary creations at ungodly prices, like the salt-crusted branzino sold at market price (roughly upwards of $80). If you’re graduating, celebrating a milestone or your employer is footing the bill, this is the place to splurge.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • South Miami
  • price 2 of 4

Chefs Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth prove they know their way around an Italian menu with their latest South Miami restaurant with Grove Bay Hospitality Group—which is conveniently adjacent to the couple’s popular chicken spot, Root & Bone. From the pizza (get the sunflower topped with actual seeds) and the flatbreads (the mushroom is the move) to the crusty bread served alongside mama’s tender meatballs, the dough is the star at Mi’talia—flavorful, chewy and with just the right amount of pull.

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