The Best Italian Restaurants in Atlanta
ITP and OTP, here's where to get your pasta fix in the ATL.
For whatever reason, Atlanta has a reputation for little things, from neighborhoods like Little 5 Points or Lil’ Mexico to those peculiar tiny doors sprinkled throughout the city to local rappers like Lil Jon, Lil Yachty, and Lil Baby. One thing that the A doesn’t have, however, is a Little Italy of its own—although Little Italia on the Westside does come pretty close. Still, there are plenty of restaurants with superb Italian cuisine ITP and OTP, and since there are so many to choose from, here are 13 essential Italian spots that you need to get familiar with ASAP.
Since its opening at the beginning of 2021, Baffi has been gradually putting in the work to merit its placement on this list. The Italian-inspired eatery’s starter selection—from the charred cauliflower and braised pork meatballs to the heirloom tomato and brussels pizzas—is absolutely dynamic, and among the main plates, there are several vegetarian and gluten-free options, such as the manicotti with spinach, ricotta, marinara, and mozzarella as well as the smoked salmon risotto with lemon, dill, artichoke, chili, and parmesan.
Whether you need to grab a quick bite for lunch or are hoping to sit down for an incredible evening meal, a mano has you covered with pasta and saucy classics as well as creative takes on traditional Italian cuisine. During the day, go for the meatball parmesan sandwich with pomodoro sauce and provolone or the scrumptious chef salad that comes with greens, tomato, onion, cucumber, fried prosciutto, mode hard-boiled egg, and basil buttermilk dressing. And for dinner, make sure you order the charred octopus, eggplant parmesan, or the fusilli (diver scallop, mushroom, spinach, cream). a mano is open from Tuesday to Saturday, and reservations are recommended.
Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante
For one of the most intimate Italian dining experiences that you can have in Atlanta, head over to Storico Fresco. The subsidiary of the Storico brand—which also encompasses Forza Storico and Storico Vino—invites guests to dine-in at one of its kitchen tables, and like you’d expect, they’re literally tables set up in the kitchen. That means close interaction with the Storico chef and, depending on how hungry you are, a special four- or five-course pre-fixe menu that oozes history, culture, and tradition.
Since Bellina is partially an Italian deli/market and part-cafe/-ristorante, you can stop in and purchase imported Italian sauces, pasta, and whatever else they’re selling, or sit down for a full-service meal. It also offers pasta-making classes and private dining, and the bar features inventive buzzers like The Great Giuseppe cynar, sweet vermouth, grapefruit, orange bitters), natural wines (nothing but grapes), and a few hard-to-find Italian beers.
If you’re looking for a family-style Italian restaurant that’s not a huge nationwide chain like Maggiano’s, Colletta should be your next destination. The modern restaurant still sticks to tradition by offering “for the table” communal dinners that feed your whole group. The airy, open space offers great views over the chef’s counters, and the patio offers alfresco dining and a bar window, in case you want to drink while shopping around the Avalon complex, which may or may not be a good idea after having a couple glasses of wine. So just sit down and eat Northern Italian favorites like black pepper tagliatelle with carbonara, pork tesa, egg yolk & pecorino romano, or the orecchiette with spicy ragu, house-made italian sausage, cremini mushrooms, and ricotta salata. Pro tip: Check the amazing wine menu before you go—bottles range from $35 to $160, and are separated into whites, New World reds, and classic Italian reds.
With 30 years in business, this Buckhead Life Group restaurant has graduated to old-guard status, but is still high on the list in terms of ATL favorites and is still the spot to beat on various local and national food awards lists. Sure, their penchant for showing off celebrity photos on the website is a bit cheesy, but not as deliciously so as their lasagna espressa with veal Bolognese, local wild mushrooms, and Parmigiano-Reggiano bechamel. They’re also famous for their linguini frutti di mare, but if you’re feeling ritzy you can get the $100/person five-course wine dinner, or go adventurous on the October regional menu, where you can order serious plates like slow-braised wild boar in Sangiovese wine with pappardelle pasta, or the Agnello 3 Volte (“The Three Ways of Lamb”), which is braised lamb cheeks, a grilled lamb chop, and house lamb sausage.
No. 246 dishes out inventive Italian fare inspired by authentic flavors and local ingredients in a sleek, modern space that somehow makes the food feel even more convincingly Italian. From pasta to wood-fired oven-baked pizzas, the entirety of the menu is delicious, but it’s the meatball appetizer that can’t be glossed over. Made from fresh pork, veal, and beef, dusted with basil and Parmesan, and served on a bed of spicy tomato sauce, these meatballs definitely put all others to shame.
For more than a decade, Atlantans have been transporting themselves to the Old Country with every bite from Sotto Sotto. Cozy and warm, it not only offers delectable, freshly made pasta dishes daily, but also has an impeccable Italian wine menu which complements any choice beautifully. To help ease the pain of wondering what delicious meal to get, order the risotti (known to us Americans as “risotto”) for maximum Italian effect. It's unbelievably creamy and velvety and bursting with bright, delicate cheeses and brilliant, tender bits of veggies and meats. It’s simple and satisfying. And somehow even better if you eat it on the charming outdoor terrace.
Translating to “The Table” in Italian and with the motto “Pasta Perfected,” La Tavola has the kind of warm, upscale ambience and food your mom would make if she were a native Italian. And also, you know, a really talented chef. Naturally, you’re getting the squid ink spaghetti. Beautifully black pasta tossed with deliciously briny squid ink and tender pieces of succulent calamari, garlic, lively Thai basil pesto, and Calabrian peppers that enhance and balance the blend of flavors and textures perfectly.
Widely known for its seafood-centric menu, St. Cecilia has some of the city’s most flavor-rich and fanciful Italian foods. By blending coastal Italian dishes with Southern ingredients, it creates unexpected treats. Start with some Piccolo Piatti—aka, small plates—like the Polpo Carbonizzato with grilled octopus, ‘nduja, and gigante beans or the smoked basil Arancini. Then, move on to the agnolotti with braised beef cheek, fonduta, and bordelaise. There’s also a phenomenal Crostata with apple and zabaglione gelato, but you’ll be so stuffed by then you probably shouldn’t order it. Just kidding. Definitely do it.
Nino's Italian Restaurant
A native of the Amalfi Coast of Southern Italy, Antonio Noviello has owned and operated Nino’s since 1982. In that time, he’s earned a lot of recognition from local diners and celebrities (and publications) for his authentic Italian classics, many of which are original recipes brought from Italy. Standouts include carefully executed pasta dishes like the Fettuccine alla Michela with fresh sautéed shrimp and scallops in a lightly spiced saffron cream sauce, and Peperoncino Eva, a delicious red pepper-infused spaghetti tossed with fresh shrimp and artichokes in a garlic and olive oil sauce.