Denver
1. Tavernetta
Union Station

It’s pretty much impossible not to love Tavernetta. The little sister to Boulder’s James Beard Award-winning Frasca is just so beautiful, so delicious, and so delightfully full of amaro and spritzes that you can’t be anything but felice while enjoying a meal or happy hour there. The handmade pastas, like the tagliatelle with lobster and Calabrian chiles and the rigatoni with lamb ragu, are always knockouts, but be sure to save room for the honey gelato filled affogato and Italian cookie plate.

2. Spuntino
Highlands

Husband-and-wife team Elliot Strathmann and Chef Cindhura Reddy took over this neighborhood favorite in 2014 and have been crafting a menu of seasonally changing dishes that often feature local ingredients ever since. The food isn't old-school Italian, but the hospitality is. So settle in and let this culinary duo wow you with dishes like handmade pasta tossed with Indian spice-preserved garlic and perfectly poached egg, and risotto arancini crammed full of Hatch green chile, white cheddar, and cilantro lime crema.

3. Bar Dough
Highland

Bar Dough has been packing the house since it opened in 2015. It has everything you want from an Italian restaurant: a killer collection of salty, cured meats to get you started; the most perfectly charred wood-fired pizzas topped with delicacies like hen of the woods mushrooms, prosciutto, and fresno chiles; freshly made pastas loaded up with whatever flavor combination—spicy! creamy! seafood-y!—you’re in the mood for; and a wine and cocktail list that makes spending an hour or several here a pleasure.

4. Restaurant Olivia
Wash Park

When restaurant vets Ty Leon, Heather Morrison, and Austin Carson bought the neighborhood-beloved Cafe Marmotte and said they were changing the French favorite into an Italian restaurant, fans were worried. They had no need to be. Restaurant Olivia is serving some of the, if not the, best Italian fare in town. If the fantastic food isn’t enough of a draw, the expert hospitality and incredible drinks will win you over.

5. Osteria Marco
Downtown

Simple Italian could be best used to describe the food served at Osteria Marco, and that’s exactly what restaurant-maker Frank Bonanno had in mind when he opened up a less-complicated rendition of Luca D’Italia. Think a focused, cured meat selection with Parm prosciutto and mortadella, panini stuffed with crispy pancetta or meatballs, and a fig and gorgonzola pizzathat will make you stop and ask, “Did this food really come from a basement?” Oh yeah, did we mention it’s in a basement? But don’t let that stop you from hopping down the stairs and trying some of the best Italian in Mile High.

6. Barolo Grill
Cherry Creek

Whenever it seems like Denver's restaurant scene is changing at lightning speed, it's nice to be able to enjoy a meal at a place that's consistently elevated the cuisine -- and continues to despite the cravings of the city. Barolo's been around since 1992 serving northern Italian cuisine with a staff that takes an annual trip to Italy to learn about the food and culture firsthand. The four-course tasting menu is ideal for getting to know the food here, but you can also order a la carte, and high rollers can add shaved black burgundy truffles to any dish for $30.