October 2019: Finding good Italian food in Miami is easy, partly because there’s really no such thing as bad pizza or pasta. For the great dishes—the kind with sauce so yummy you can’t help but slurp your spaghetti or soak up every last bit with bread—you come here. We’ve added five new restaurants to go to for your Italian food fix: from the casual at Time Out Market Miami to the upscale at Fiola and Le Sirenuse to the communal and innovative at Mi’talia. Mangia!
Ah, pasta. The thing we love most but also the reason we’re in a committed relationship with our trainer and just about live in the nearest Miami gym. Though even just a few bites of the carbonara at any of the best Italian restaurants Miami has to offer makes it all worth it. The ristorantes and trattorias that make up our list of Italian restaurants in Miami are known for their delightful, rustic cucinas serving up all the classics, from Miami’s best pizza and pasta to fantastic risotto and veal chops. Whether it’s cheat day or Wednesday, which seems as good a day as any to tuck into a steaming bowl of carbs, here’s where you should go for your next big Italian feast.
Best Italian restaurants in Miami
What is it? 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.
Why go? 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.
What is it? Rustic, dark, cozy—Michael Pirolo’s Macchialina is a laid-back, family-style trattoria serving homey Italian food. It’s in the heart of South Beach but regularly packs in the locals.
Why go? The pasta is light, fresh and always made in-house. Short rib lasagna and artichoke mezzaluna are crowd favorites, especially on Thursday nights when pasta is priced at just $10.
What is it? This looker of a Mediterranean restaurant hails from Positano in Italy’s Amalfi Coast but the feel is every bit Old Florida.
Why go? Amalfi is far and crowded, and scoring a reservation at the original Sirenuse is nearly impossible. The Surfside restaurant is more than the next best thing, serving thoughtful Italian cuisine in an elegant environment that isn’t overrun by tourists.
What is it? The Miami outpost of award-winning chef Scott Conant’s celebrated Italian restaurant (others include New York and Las Vegas). It’s white tablecloth and expensive but the lounge/bar up front and beachfront setting keep the vibe relaxed.
Why go? We’re not messing around when we say the tomato-basil spaghetti is life-changing—and it’s served perfectly al dente in a neat, slurpable mound. You’ll never think about pasta Pomodoro the same way again.
What is it? 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.
Why go? 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.
What is it? Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli’s Time Out Market eatery serves all the greatest hits from his Coral Gables restaurant, Eating House, and then some.
Why go? While Rapicavoli’s take on the classic carbonara is still one of our all-time favorite Italian dishes, his expanded menu of pasta is reason enough to try others, such as the tasty Pomodoro with fresh tomato sauce.
What is it? 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.
Why go? 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.
What is it? 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.
Why go? 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.
What is it? The Miami outpost of D.C.’s Michelin-starred restaurant by the same name. On Capitol Hill it’s big with the power-lunch crowd, while the Coral Gables location is more of a family vibe.
Why go? Service! You’ll feel like a VIP the moment you walk through the door. From the maître d’ to the bartender to the servers (yes, plural), the staff here cares and it shows.
What is it? 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.
Why go? The large buttonwood trees and strung lights make for an idyllic, romantic setting. Dining with friends? Split the black truffle pizza, which is equally seductive.
What is it? One of the city’s finest and fanciest restaurants, Casa Tua is a sleek and chic country Italian-style spot housed in a refurbished 1925 Mediterranean-style two-story home.
Why 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.
What is it? Italian fine dining, Miami-style: uninterrupted water views, $30-plus pasta dishes and servers who occasionally pretend you’re not even there. But wow, ain’t it pretty.
Why go? Divine culinary creations at ungodly prices, like the salt-crusted branzino for $75. If you’re graduating, celebrating a milestone or your employer is footing the bill, this is the place to splurge.
What is it? The ramshackle trattoria is set in a former bank and decked in Italian odds and ends and local souvenirs. Step through its exquisite, dilapidated doors to find homestyle pasta and a neat wine list stocked with affordable Italian labels.
Why go? Soya’s vibe is what you make of it—loud and celebratory, discreet and romantic, kid-friendly and fun. Book it for a birthday or slip in for date night and either way you’ll have a good time.
What is it? Located on the ground level of the SLS Brickell, this Italian trattoria somehow still manages to keep up its laid-back rustic feel despite its fancy-pants affiliation.
Why go? It’s easy to get excited about the pizza here, which is wood-fired and topped a little differently than most—think cauliflower, carpaccio and bolognese sauce. Though the happy hour is an easy sell, too, featuring $6 drinks and half-off select pies.
What is it? One of Wynwood’s OG restaurants keeps a steady flow of regulars and newcomers, luring them with its shaded patio, oversized windows with views of the ’hoods busiest intersection and well-priced Italian eats.
Why go? You know what you’re getting at Joey’s, where very little has changed in a decade. Food and service are reliable, though not always speedy.