The Best Italian Restaurants in Boston
There’s nothing finer than a steaming plate of carbs coming at you from across the room, and Boston's Italian restaurants do not disappoint. It’s kind of like meeting an equally impressive looking person at a party, but with less small talk and a lot more flavor. Look no further -- we’ve rounded up the top Italian restaurants in Boston to enjoy a delicious and decadent meal fit for a modern-day king and queen. Feast on them all, friends. (And by the way, here's another, more specific guide for those craving the best pizza in Boston.)
The much-anticipated Italian marketplace is finally here
Spanning over 45,000 square feet, Eataly Boston makes dreams come true at every corner. Located in The Prudential Center, this marketplace not only sells authentic and high quality ingredients for an ambitious night-in, but it also houses a slew of tasty restaurants like Terra, a dining room centered around a wood-burning Italian grill. If you’d like to brush up on some skills while sipping wines selected by Eataly’s own sommelier, take a homemade pasta class or learn more about the history of Italian wines. Make sure you get you get your tickets fast -- March classes are almost sold out!
A beloved cash-only North End destination
With the original North End location opening over three decades ago, Giacomo’s has had its fair share of visitors -- and still does. Rain or shine, the line outside of this quintessential (and cash-only) North End dining spot may seem intimidating at first, but it’s a must for Italian food seekers. Take your pick between the ziti, ravioli and fettuccine pasta options made complete with your choice of swordfish, salmon, shrimp, and chicken. If you’re looking to fill up on some chicken marsala or veal Parmigiana, both come with a side of pasta. You’re guaranteed to leave this place with fresh marinara sauce stains.
Intimate neighborhood hotspot with small plates for sharing
Not to be confused with Capo -- the dine-by-day and dance-by-night restaurant and bar in Southie -- Coppa offers a cozy environment with a modern take on Italian dining. Rather than a 10-pound platter brought to your table, Coppa’s plentiful small-plate options are perfect for picking at and passing around. Yet if you’re in the mood for some pasta, there’s no shortage of hearty choices, including the creamy-yet-smoky uni carbonara and cavatelli con polla, a hand-cranked pasta with broccoli and chicken sausage. For lighter fare, try the Sedano di Caesar featuring crunchy shaved celery topped off with toasted breadcrumbs.
Spacious, classically decorated space for fine dining made from local ingredients
Looking for a fine dining experience to transition into a big night out? Open until 1am Monday through Sunday, Lucca’s locally grown ingredients and robust wine list sets you up for a fulfilling night out as a responsible adult. With locations in both Back Bay and North End, you’ll have plenty of city to explore after you indulge in the filet mignon, rigatoni, or ravioli stuffed with savory cheeses, baby kale, and toasted hazelnuts. For the ultimate cross between a local specialty and Italian-inspired dish, try the lobster cavatelli made with fresh Maine lobster.
Prepare for a fresh mozzarella bar in The Liberty Hotel
Meaning “escape” in Italian, Scampo is rich in history and even richer in its bold flavors. Located in The Liberty Hotel, formerly Charles Street Jail, Scampo offers its own mozzarella bar, which pairs fresh mozzarella with choices of tomato and basil, prosciutto, beef sirloin, and king crab. Scope out Scampo on Sunday nights for their Supper Special, a three-course meal including salad, chicken Parmigiana, and stuffed jumbo shells, and homemade Neapolitan ice cream.
Homey space with classics served by the Italian grandfather you never had
One step into Dolce Vita and you realize you’re not in a restaurant but in owner Franco Graceffa’s home away from home. Italian for “The Sweet Life,” Dolce Vita is known for its great food and even better service. (The martinis aren’t half bad either: Ask for the strawberry). The Sicilian-born Graceffa greets you at the door and stops by after the meal to make sure nothing was short of satisfying.
Casual environment sticking to its roots and historic culture
Opening its doors over 20 years ago, Trattoria Il Panino is Boston’s original trattoria -- as in, an Italian restaurant serving simple, inexpensive, and classic dishes (traditionally on the streets of Italy). With plenty of space for customers seeking out an affordable and delicious plates of pasta, Trattoria Il Panino also offers a large outdoor eating space for some fresh air and essential North End views. You might even notice some familiar faces plastered on the wall; celebs like Robert De Niro, Jimmy Kimmel, and Mariah Carey have all stopped by for a bite.
The center of European ambiance and favorite Italian fares
Home to an unbeatable chicken parm, Panza has exactly what you’re looking for in a signature Italian meal, and the cuisine isn’t the only authentic offering at this beloved restaurant. The brick and lanterns lining the walls take you back to an Italian era you’ve probably wished you were born in. When in doubt, that chicken parm is always the go-to choice at Panza -- a thin-cut strip of chicken blanketed in mozzarella and sauce bursting with flavor. To really treat yourself, add an order of crispy garlic bread. You deserve it.
Contemporary take on Italian dining with elegant atmosphere
If you’re in the mood for some swank, Teatro’s dimly lit space owned by Boston dining scene star chef Jamie Mammano is where your night is headed. The menu offers a long list of Italian favorites from homemade ravioli to gnocchi, but to make the meal complete, pair with a specialty (did we use the word "swank" already?) cocktail. The bar at Teatro is known for its inventive and seasonal cocktails served up by experienced bartenders -- a step up from the usual vodka cranberry.
A go-to for huge portions of traditional dishes at an affordable price
With plates that overwhelm the table and portions that scream leftovers, you’ll be the talk of the office after reheating La Famiglia Giorgio’s lasagna for three days straight. We’re not kidding. The portions are almost the equivalent to a restaurant food challenge. You won’t get your picture on the wall, but at least one honest family member will be sure to never let you live down devouring an entire dish. La Famiglia Giorgio’s matches its aggressive helpings to reasonable prices all with elements of family-style and old-fashioned dining -- an ideal Sunday activity.
Cozy and welcoming spot for your late-night cravings
In the mood for an entire pie vs. just a slice? Quattro’s brick-oven pizzas and plentiful toppings like sausage, potato, and mushroom make for a great dinner or late-night snack. The restaurant even offers a nutella and strawberry pizza for those sweeter cravings. If your Friday or Saturday turned into an early night, stop by Quattro before midnight for signature pizzas, burgers, calzones, seafood, and much more. You’ll be sure to wake up the next day without any regrets -- just leftovers for the week.
Hole-in-the-wall pizza shop wrangling crowds for its Sicilian slices and arancini
We can’t list the city’s top spots for traditional cuisine without mentioning where to get the best slice of pizza. Open Monday through Saturday starting at 11am, Galleria Umberto welcomes long lines of eager pizza lovers from all over. The James Beard Foundation even named it amongst its 2018 American Classics Awards, honoring regional restaurants cherished by their communities. If you’re looking to try something new without regretting not getting a slice, go for the stuffed risotto arancini, calzone, or potato panzerotti.
Creative culinary experience hidden in quaint Boston neighborhood
Boston’s first Venetian-style bacaro, aka "pit stop," and wine bar, SRV’s relaxed atmosphere and rear patio is a hotspot for trendy groups. With small bites and crafted cocktails created by notable and experienced culinary stars, this South End favorite is where you’ll want to dine all spring and summer long. The restaurant was also named the 2017 Best Italian Restaurant by Boston Magazine for its pasta dishes and extensive dessert list, serving up ricotta cocoa nib and coffee-white chocolate gelato.
Hanover Street’s small restaurant/bar perfect for people watching
While strolling on this signature street, you might notice a tiny window front accompanied by a couple of 20-something year olds and glasses of wine. Scopa is a prime spot for people watching and trying new things -- including braised octopus and short rib. If you have room for dessert, Boston’s best cannolis are just a few feet away over at Mike’s Pastry. Make your move once the line dies down to top off your evening with something sweet.
Sophisticated dining offering authentic wines from Italy
Located right in Copley Square, Sorellina draws in a chic crowd with its unconventional Italian-Mediterranean cuisine and extensive wine list. If you’re up for something a little lavish after work and refuse to change out of your business casual clothes, this is probably the right move. The menu has fancy options like squid ink pasta, branzino, and gnocchi served with potato dumplings and Maine lobster. You may want to unbutton your dress pants to prepare for desserts like tiramisu or bombolini -- a serving of sugar donuts with Nutella gelato and mascarpone crema.
Rustic and romantic vibes permeate this exposed-brick joint
If you’re planning on going all in for the first date (or maybe a comfortable third), show them your excellent taste by suggesting Bacco on the corner of Salem Street. With windows almost touching the ceiling, you get a romantic view looking out into the heart of the North End. Make time for gazing into the menu with long lists of wines and homemade pastas rich in vegetables including the eggplant Parmigiana and butternut squash ravioli. And in case you or your date have a restrictive diet, no need to fret. Bacco offers gluten-free pasta options including the Parmesan risotto and linguini with garlic and oil.
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