The Best Italian Restaurants in Houston Right Now

These are the best trattorias, red sauce joints, and wood-fired pizzerias in Houston.

Though Houston’s divine culinary scene isn’t exactly known for Italian cuisine, there’s plenty of restaurants fighting that reputation, one savory red sauce classic at a time. From rustic-meets-intimate mainstays to posh hot spots, diners can dive into mounds of silky spaghetti, prosciutto-laden appetizers, endless baskets of ciabatta to sop up that leftover marinara and luscious baked rigatoni pretty much anywhere in the city—not to mention the finest imported reds and whites to elevate those already explosive flavors.

Add these 12 standout Italian eateries to your Houston dining bucket list, then check them off one by one this winter or anytime.

Information listed here may be subject to change depending on the developing situation with COVID-19's Omicron variant. Please check for the latest updates available or contact each establishment directly for more info.

Trattoria Sofia

Greater Heights
$$$$

A new contestant swimming in Houston’s ever growing Italian restaurant scene, this rustic palace has been drawing ravenous crowds with their intriguing cocktail list, fresh pastas, and juicy proteins. Eye-popping selections include Crispy Cheese Fritters, pizzas piled high with all the hits (definitely tipping our hats to the Prosciutto Pie dripping with spicy honey), Cacio e Pepe, Campanelle tossed in lamb ragu, and Pan-roasted Monkfish laced with a zippy concoction of mint, basil, and parsley. For a final dose of deliciousness, dip into some Frozen Coffee Tiramisu.

Available for Reservations

Potente

Downtown
$$$$

Honestly, there’s no better spot to conquer lunch than Potente—or maybe we should say, soothe the soul after a lengthy Houston Astros game. Astros owner Jim Crane dreamed of crafting an upscale space teeming with inventive Italian eats, refined wine, and a calming atmosphere, and with Potente, he definitely hit the ball out the park. Stationed across the street from Minute Maid Park, expect to swirl your fork in decadent bowls of Spaghetti al Tartufo Nero topped with black truffle shavings, Mezzelune with braised Texas duck, pistachio-brimmed Bremolata, and a particularly superb caviar service.

Available for Reservations
Da Marco
Photo courtesy of Da Marco Cucina E Vino

Da Marco

Montrose
$$$$

Chef Marco Wiles takes inspiration from Venice and the greater Friulian region for this higher-end take on Italian, so much so that he imports a lot of the product from the motherland itself. What he doesn’t import, he makes fresh, like Raviolo peppered with seasonal truffles and ricotta, buttery Paninos delicately stuffed with cured prosciutto and fig jam, Lamb Chops blanketed in an earthy cumin yogurt spread, and Artichokes alla “Giudia” fried to a heavenly, airy crisp. Dress to impress here (seriously, jackets are preferred), and gear up to splurge on aged Italian wines, a few of which date back to the '70s.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Coppa Osteria

Rice Village/Southampton
$$$$

Warning: One bite of Coppa Osteria’s made-from-scratch pies and crustacean-laden pastas, and you’ll be making this cozy trattoria your go-to afterwork spot. There’s an entire glass-enclosed room just for dough-making here, so diners can fawn over chef Jorge Torres and Davide de Angelis whipping up pizzas loaded with numerous kinds of sausage and salumi, creamy Conchiglie Bolognese, Egg Pasta Ribbons garnished with seasonal mushrooms, and more. Other delights include dreamy Spaghetti Carbonara nestled in a cream sauce, Rigatoni buried in thinly-sliced prosciutto, and Whole Roasted Branzino. True to Clark Cooper Concepts form, the wine list here is beyond reasonable, with bottles priced as close to retail as possible for your popping pleasure.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Coltivare

Heights
$$$$

This quite literal fresh-from-the-garden eatery is the best example of why you shouldn’t discount Italian in Houston. Each season, Coltivare’s (Italian for “to grow”) heart-healthy menu gets a constant refresh as their ingredients come straight from the restaurant’s idyllic 3,000-square-foot garden. And if it’s not grown in the yard, the rustic flavors are carefully sourced from local farms or made in-house, such as meaty and nutty charcuteries from sibling concept Revival Market. Don’t come here expecting your grandma’s Sunday gravy or hulking veal chops. Instead, you’ll find shareable plates in the form of bubbly wood-fired pies, unrivaled Casarecce, plump Ravioli, whole-roasted fish, and decadent Chocolate Rum Cake.
How to order: Order take-out via Toast.

Available for Reservations

River Oaks residents line up here for an impressive range of classic and chic Italian plates, such as crabmeat-engorged Linguini, Tortellini Piemontese dazzling in cream sauce, and succulent veal options shimmering in red wine glaze, finely chopped onions, and earthy mushrooms. Though it’s a bit on the fancy side, it’s also super comforting. Warmed by a corner fireplace and sporting a wood-paneled, moody interior that evokes the Renaissance, this family-run stunner makes for an off-the-charts date night.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Giacomo's cibo e vino

Greenway/Upper Kirby
$$$$

Since 2009, owner and chef Lynette Hawkins has been churning out affordable and exemplary servings of awe-inspiring pasta dishes. Tuck your napkins in and lengthen your belt a notch before gorging on Tortellini smothered in a Parmesan cream sauce, swoon-worthy seafood, hearty Bolognese, assorted cheeses and smoked meats, and more.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Paulie's

Montrose
$$$$

This fast-casual fan favorite is one of the most wallet-friendly Italian joints in town, mainly because, like we said, it’s fast-casual. That means you can get housemade pastas, from flavorful Bucatini Amatriciana and Canestri Alla Funghi to one of the most savory Rigatonis in the city, starting at $12 a pop for a small plate (trust us, it’s plenty for one person). They also offer a splashy beer and wine list, and you can still bring your own bubbly for a $10 corking fee. Afterward, save those dollars for a trip to Camerata, the neighboring wine bar, where you can pick from more than 150 European wines, beers, and ciders. And make sure to add a couple delicious servings of imported meats and cheeses on your tab when you get hungry again—which you will, because there’s no such thing as too much when it comes to Paulie’s.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Don’t knock BLVD Place just because it’s an import from restaurant group Fox Restaurant Concepts. North tends to incorporate all things local, from farm-fresh eggs, meats, and produce to freshly baked bread from Kraftsmen Baking. It also emphasizes scratch-made dishes, with the menu reading like the sweetest love letter to Italy via aromatic pizzas, hefty hoagies crammed with rosemary ham and spices, scamorza-studded Arancini, and heavenly ribbons of house-made Anolini tossed in blistered tomatoes and shredded Grana Padano. Round things out with Truffled Garlic Bread and girthy noodles simmered in a seafood blend (think poached fish, shrimp and calamari). This contemporary destination may be a tad trendier than your old-school red sauce joint, but in this case, it’s plenty welcome.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Tony's

Greenway Plaza/Upper Kirby
$$$$

Tony Vallone’s swanky fine dining establishment isn’t just one of the greatest Italian eateries in Houston, it’s one of the greatest restaurants in Houston. Period. The Third Ward legend hit gold with this upscale outpost, with over-the-top service and delectable entrees drawing in stars like Tony Bennett, Mick Jagger, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Oscar de la Renta, and seven sitting presidents (no big deal). With Naples and Milan serving as the restaurant’s muse, Tony’s lets you feast on elegant throwbacks and seasonal inspirations like crab- and sausage-stuffed Fettuccine, Aged Duck swimming in a red wine demi glace, vibrant garden salads, and tender housemade Porcini. End with a Passionfruit Cannoli, a sweet treat that pairs perfectly with the spot’s world-class wine list.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Enoteca Rossa

Bellaire
$$$$

Does it get any better than espresso, wine, pizza, and other Euro staples lovingly crafted by a bonafide Italian-born chef? Don’t strain yourself too hard—the answer is no, it doesn’t. You’ll have to travel to Bellaire to get it, but you’ll be sorry if you don’t at least try, because the relative newcomer offers one of the finest examples of Italian simplicity in the city. There’s brunch beauties like omelets brimmed with smoked salmon or Italian ham, toothsome cuts of Beef Carpaccio tossed in truffle dressing, a variety of wood-fire pies, and briny Mussels drowning in white wine. There’s also local spins like velvety Short Rib Ravioli (which partners well with the mixed green and roasted beet salads), or a Linguini dish littered with clams so tasty you’ll likely dream about it later.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

It’s tough to last over 30 years in Houston’s booming dining scene, especially in Midtown, where restaurants seem to die quicker than characters on Squid Game. Their longevity alone earns this antiquated spot instant street cred, but that’s not the only reason this Mandola family stalwart earned a spot on this list. Mixing old-world traditions with local flavors, Damian’s cuisine speaks for itself. Feast on Sweet Potato Ravioli, Linguini garnished with Gulf shrimp and other saucy delights, rosemary-rubbed Veal Chops, and golden-brown Chicken Milanese doused in a lemony butter relish.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations
Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who is sure hoping she didn’t just put a jinx on 2022. Share your totally optimistic dreams for the new year with her @brookeviggiano on Twitter and @brookiefafa on IG.
Adrianne Reece is a contributor for Thrillist.