When you crave Italian food, you either: (a) wish you lived in Italy, or (b) wish you had an Italian grandmother who lived in your household, making pasta sauce for you on-demand. Since most of us have neither of those niceties, you'll just have to seek them out in Dallas' dining scene. Fortunately for us, there are these: the 11 most drool-worthy Italian restaurants around town, from Old World to modern hybrid, where you can get your "mangia" on.
Taverna is a neighborhood Italian restaurant in the Northern Italian style. Highlights are the pan-seared sea bass and fabulous risotto but there's excellent pizza here too. Perhaps the biggest draw, though, is the ambiance. Stop in on a weekend night and sit on the patio. The people-watching is quite interesting, and don’t forget to order a glass or three from the great selection of Italian reds.
Since 1946 Campisi’s has been delivering great Italian food to Dallas. Campisi's is known for its pizzas but for those who think that’s all the place does well, think again. From veal scallopini to Italian grilled chicken, the menu doesn’t disappoint. If it does you can take it up with Mr. Campisi but we don’t recommend that.
Chef Francesco Farris’ Sardinian roots heavily influence this rustic and cozy Italian restaurant. The influence can be enjoyed in dishes like the Neri Alle Vongole with squid ink infused spaghetti and fresh clams, or the Polpo Alle Spezie Al Carbone, with tenderized octopus grilled with spicy tomato sauce. The best part about this restaurant might be the aromatic herbs that come fresh from the garden just outside the restaurant. If you have an eclectic palate and are looking for something a bit different this is an excellent choice.
Nonna Tata is well worth the drive. This BYOB, cash only, and no reservations restaurant is like dining in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. Chef Donatella Trotti boasts an impressive menu full of authentic Italian fare; try the Pasta ai Gamberi. If you bring your own wine be sure to bring wine glasses, the restaurant doesn’t stock any. And be sure to invite your nonna, it’s been awhile since you’ve given her a call.
This Italian-American restaurant is a Dallas favorite and for good reason. The Owner, Zee, makes everyone feel like they are friends dining in his own home. But it’s not just the service that makes Bugatti a great experience; the classics like, fettuccine Alfredo and shrimp scampi are arguably the best in town. If you’re looking for a great Italian experience without the snobbery, this is your place. Say hello to Zee for us.
Chef-owner Julian Barsotti delivers authentic Italian cuisine, in this intimate Highland Park gem. The menu is seasonal and changes often, so there’s always something new to explore. Of course, you can always enjoy the thin-crust, Neapolitan pizzas made in the wood-burning oven (the focal point of the restaurant) year round. The wine menu here is also top notch, so instead of a Pinot Grigio or Chianti opt for something different, like a Barolo or Montepulciano. Just be sure to plan accordingly, if you want to enjoy Nonna, it’s reservation only.
Patrizio serves traditional family Italian fare with a modern twist and is a Dallas staple. When you’re looking for a solid Italian restaurant with a great ambiance and reasonable prices this is your place. The happy hour offerings here are also great, especially the frozen Bellinis -- similar to a margarita, they’re seemingly innocent but dangerous.
This nondescript restaurant next to Jimmy’s Food Store has an unexpected, swanky Manhattan vibe. It’s almost as if you’ve stumbled onto the set of a Woody Allen movie and amongst the clattering of dishes and all the loud wine-filled voices you understand why it’s reservation only, the place is pretty damn cool. But let’s not forget about the Italian food. Order the asparagus and ricotta ravioli with chervil celery leaf salad, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and lime butter sauce, it’s top notch.
Jimmy’s is first and foremost an authentic Italian food mart. Secondly, an amazing sandwich shop. Do exactly what we say and order the meatball sandwich, a glass of $4 red wine, and sit in the back room past the kitchen, Goodfellas-style, then enjoy. When you’re done order a $2 double espresso and cannoli to go. You will feel like you’re in Little Italy for a fleeting moment and maybe like a mobster until you realize you’re none of those things except late for work because you took too long on your lunch break.
Stop in on Monday night for half-price wine night and then order the spaghetti & meatballs; it’s the best in town. There’s nothing else to say aside from go easy on the wine and indulge in the spaghetti and meatballs, wait, indulge in the wine too.
This restaurant is harder to get into than the Navy Seals but once you do you’ll know why. The neighborhood Italian restaurant has some of the most authentic Italian dishes outside of the Boot itself. As a matter of fact, Chef David Uygur describes the type of Italian food the restaurant does as, “doing what an Italian would do with the list of ingredients that he can get in Dallas.” We couldn’t agree more and when we get in again in a few months we shall reaffirm that.
You know your loud-mouth New York friend who is always saying there’s no good pizza in Dallas? Bring him here and then watch in delight as he eats his own words. The owner has been tossing pizza dough and making delicious New York-style pizza since the '70s, before opening a location right here in Dallas.
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1. Urbano Cafe1410 N Fitzhugh Ave, Dallas
2. Campisi's Egyptian Lounge5610 E Mockingbird Ln, Dallas
3. Carbone's Fine Food and Wine4208 Oak Lawn, Dallas
4. Jimmy's Food Store4901 Bryan St, Dallas
5. Sal's Pizza2525 Wycliff Ave, Dallas
6. Lucia408 W 8th St, Dallas
7. Taverna3312 Knox St, Dallas
8. Nonna Restaurant4115 Lomo Alto Dr, Dallas
9. Bugatti Ristorante3802 W Northwest Hwy, Dallas
10. Patrizio Uptown3232 McKinney Ave #150, Dallas
11. Nonna Tata1400 W Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth
Hit up Urbano Cafe for an Italian-leaning menu with some Texas twists, like risotto balls with Fresno peppers and queso fresco.
Campisi's has been holding down the Dallas Italian scene since 1946, with thin crust pizza cut into rectangular slices. As the story goes, when the Campisi family first bought the Egyptian Lounge to turn it into what would eventually become the godfather of Dallas pizza, it cost too much to change the signage, so the landmark Italian place has confused out-of-towners since the '40s. The interior looks like a banquet hall, with white tablecloths and uniform metal chairs.
Famous for its notoriously delicious (secret) meatball recipe, Carbone's is part Italian specialty food store, and part local lunch counter. The whole place is packed with gourmet groceries either sourced from small, high-end purveyors, or prepared in-house. The Dallas market is the ideal go-to spot for cooking provisions -- olive oils, wines, imported meats and cheeses -- while there are a battery of marvelously fresh options available at the deli counter as well. In addition to house specialties like hand-pulled pastas, and fresh antipasti, the counter serves hefty Italian sandwiches and pasta dishes, all made-to-order with the finest of Carbone's house-ingredients (this is your chance to order the meatball sub). While the joint is self service throughout the week, in good Italian form, it serves a massive sit-down dinner every Sunday night.
This Dallas mainstay is the go-to local spot for all-things-Italian. Founded in 1996, the specialty food store has been a family-owned crowd favorite for over 50 years. Daily, the staff hand-rolls meatballs and bakes Italian sweets (with old, family recipes, of course) in the back of the shop, while in front, they help patrons select gourmet groceries and bottles from their carefully curated Italian wine selection. Locals can order hefty, fresh sandwiches at the counter, sample house-made olives, and shop for everything from imported balsamic vinegars, to handmade pastas. The imported cheese and meat selections are expansive, the antipasti bar is stuffed, and in true Italian fashion, dollar espresso shots are available all day. And while the folks at Jimmy's offer wine tastings on Saturdays, the wine room tucked behind the store is open to guests all week.
The owner of this Italian joint has been tossing pizza dough and making delicious New York style pizza since the 70s, before opening a location right here in Dallas.
It's hard to snag a table at this neighborhood Italian restaurant in the Bishop Arts District, but if you can, it's totally worth it. Chef David Uygur describes the eclectic menu of this cozy spot as “doing what an Italian would do with the list of ingredients that he can get in Dallas.” That means locally sourced game, handmade pasta, and bold, flavorful ragus. Favorites include the ramp and ricotta tortellini, mustard green gnudi, and Texas wagyu coulotte.
If the weather complies, snag a seat on the patio at Taverna in Highland Park, and order Salsiccia & Peppers with tomato, mozzarella, sausage, caramelized onions and of course, peppers. Just make sure you’re not face deep in your pizza, which is highly possible because there’s plenty of people watching off of Knox, hence the patio seat.
Nonna is a Highland Park destination, beloved by locals for its rotating, market-driven menu of hearty Italian fare like flatbread pizzas, wood-oven cooked ribeye with zucchini fries, and gnocchi bolognese. The refined yet minimalist interior lets the food do the talking, while candles on each table sets the mood for romantic dinners and special occasions over glasses of wine and heaping portions of pasta.
From the warm, welcoming staff to the bold Tuscan flavors in every dish, Bugatti Ristorante has the feel of an authentic Italian eatery. The Northwest Highway outpost has a steady flock of regulars, who return for the heaping bowls of linguine pescatore and hearty chicken parmigiana, as well as the open-air, Mediterranean-inspired patio overlooking scenic Bachman Creek. Combined with the extensive wine list, the upscale bistro is the perfect locale for an intimate dinner.
With ornately framed paintings, large oriental rugs, and beautiful crown molding, this spacious Italian restaurant feels a bit like dining in a museum. The kitchen here is cooking traditional family-style Italian fare with a modern twist, such as open-face ravioli with artichokes, mushrooms, roasted peppers, and a roasted garlic cream sauce. There's a handful of pizzas on the menu, too, including a wood-roasted chicken pie, and a solid lineup of desserts. The only way you should end your meal here, though, is with a cappuccino and tiramisu.