Let’s be honest here. If there’s one thing that Nashville is NOT known for, it’s Italian food. However, the truth is that we have a surprisingly large number of truly fantastic Italian restaurants here in Music City. In case you aren’t familiar with all of them, we’re here to set the record straight.
The Best Italian Restaurants in Nashville
Moto features inspired rustic-modern Italian cuisine in a building that was once a mechanic’s shop. The menu’s a contemporary approach to authentic Italian cooking that utilizes consciously sourced produce from local farms and artisans balanced by premium product imported from Italy. Moto’s headliners are seasonal ‘market’ items and house-made pasta dishes. The emphasis is on small plates (as opposed to many Italian restaurants that serve family sized servings).
This Downtown Italian joint prides itself on being “Nashville casual/NYC chic.” And that’s fitting as Trattoria Il Mulino is a New York-based Italian restaurant that’s relatively new to the scene in Nashville. It’s located right next to the Bridgestone Arena with a great outdoor patio for people watching and offers classic menu items like ricotta meatballs, calamari, and an assortment of pastas as well as a signature craft cocktail list. The kitchen also serves wood fired pizza -- a favorite of Trattoria regulars.
City House is an extremely popular place in Nashville for one big reason: pizzas. It has other delicious classics like cavatelli, but what you’re here for is the belly ham, mozzarella, grana padano, oregano, and chilies pizza. It’s by far the most popular dish, and after fighting for the last slice, you’ll see why. To complement that, check out the bourbon-heavy craft cocktail list. Or grab a wine, it has that too.
Amerigo is a casual dining spot that’s great for large family dinners and workday lunches. It has an entire gluten-free menu making it an option for those with food allergies who still want to enjoy classic Italian dishes (bring on the pasta and bread!). Among the less traditional dishes, a weekly lunch special of Nashville hot chicken pasta Alfredo. It’s one of those things that you might not expect to work well, but somehow it tastes amazing.
Savarino’s is said to have the best cannoli in all of Nashville, and we’re not here to disagree. But please, don’t stop there. Savarino’s is surrounded by herb plants which results in the most fresh and delicious plate of pesto pasta you will find anywhere in the city. To top it all off, the place probably has the friendliest Italian family staff. The newest addition to the joint is Amari, the upstairs speak-easy style cocktail lounge.
Coco’s Italian Market is family-owned and run by chefs with vast knowledge of Italian family cooking. Much like the restaurants you’ll find in New York, Coco’s features a full market where you can peruse authentic Italian products, produce, and homemade pastas (get the ravioli). You can even play bocce while waiting to be seated.
Valentino’s Ristorante is an upscale Italian restaurant equipped with a full lounge, large dining area, and even a wine cellar that can be rented out for large groups or private parties. Its extensive menu has much to choose from (bucatini, antipasto, lobster ravioli, etc.) and we highly recommend going in planning to order a multi-course meal. This place is fancy which makes it a great spot for special occasions and an excuse to dress up. It also might be smart to make reservations. Most importantly, don’t leave without having a piece of the tiramisu.
Caffe Nonna is a traditional, family-run Italian restaurant that has been a Nashville favorite for years now. The Lasagna Nonna is one of the most popular dishes and is loaded with layers of butternut squash, spinach, ricotta, and two different kinds of famous sauces. Nonna has a particular focus on the freshest ingredients, which is reflected in every bite. It’s open for both lunch and dinner to satisfy your Italian cuisine cravings anytime of day.
If there’s one thing that we should endlessly thank Italy for, it’s pizza. And Bella Napoli is THE place for authentic Italian pizza in Nashville. The Parma Pizza, piled high with prosciutto, arugula, and large pieces of parmesan, is one of Bella Napoli’s most popular pies. Each one’s cooked fresh to order in a wood-fired brick oven and left uncut when it’s delivered to the table (the traditional Italian way to serve a pizza as it keeps the crust and cheese fresher). Also, the lovely outdoor patio area is always quiet and perfect for casual outdoor dining.
Mama Mia’s has an extensive Sicilian menu and the classic dishes, such as the lasagna or the ravioli, are the way to go. Everything on the menu is made with all fresh -- and homemade -- ingredients and served with a side of garlicky bread (quite possibly the best part of any Italian meal!). It also has a phenomenal list of homemade pizzas and calzones.
Finezza is a true family-run Italian bistro that’s been a Nashville favorite for nearly 25 years. It’s also one of our favorite spots in the city for a good glass of wine since it has a long list of varietals from Italy and all around the world. We’re big fans of both the make-your-own pizzas and build-your-own pasta dish with several different kinds of sauce, toppings, pasta, and meat items to choose from so that you get exactly what you want.
Italia is an East Nashville staple and for good reason. It caters to all wants, needs, and dietary restrictions with vegan, gluten free, whole wheat, and of course, regular crusts. The menu also includes an array of pasta dishes and mediterranean cuisine. The Mediterranean, Meat Lover, and ‘Drag-it through the Garden’ pizzas are all excellent options.
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Brita Britnell is a Nashville-based food blogger and photographer who was raised by an Italian father and frequented many Nashville Italian joints growing up.
1. Moto Cucina + Enoteca1120 McGavock St, Nashville
2. Trattoria Il Mulino144 5th Ave S, Nashville
3. City House1222 4th Ave N, Nashville
4. Amerigo1920 West End Ave, Nashville
5. Savarino's Cucina2121 Belcourt Ave, Nashville
6. Coco's Italian Market411 51st Ave N, Nashville
7. Valentino's Ristorante1907 West End Ave, Nashville
8. Caffé Nonna4427 Murphy Rd, Nashville
9. Bella Napoli Pizzeria1200 Villa Pl, Ste 206, Nashville
10. Mama Mia's4671 Trousdale Dr, Nashville
11. Finezza Italian Bistro5406 Harding Pike, Nashville
12. Italia1600 Woodland St, Nashville
This Gulch resto is part of the MStreet empire, offering 30 rotating wines by the glass, craft 'tails, and a whole host of delicious Italian dishes.
This NYC import does it best with classic Italian dishes served with finesse, an extensive wine list, and impeccable service.
The James Beard-nominated City House has become a Nashville staple for its creative spin on Italian dishes. The weekly Sunday Supper with its ever-changing lineup is always a hot event, but be sure to make reservations in advance. This Germantown spot is also a great place for wine lovers. Its small, secluded bar is a great place to meet with friends for a quick glass after work, and even solo diners can have a great experience sitting at the pizza bar with a glass of Sangiovese and watching the talented kitchen work the wood-fired oven.
The menu at this Williamson County resto is rock solid, full of classic pasta dishes and inventive meat and seafood plates, but don’t overlook the Chef’s Seasonal Menu where the kitchen sources fresh ingredients from farmers markets to inspire entrees like a decadent Noble Springs Mac & Cheese made with regionally sourced pimento goat cheese, mozzarella, crispy country ham, fresh herbs, and a panko-Parmesan crust.
Savarino’s has always been a local favorite, but after being featured on the Food Network, its food has been in extra high demand. This authentic Italian joint makes its bread fresh and while you might have to wait a bit for your food to come out, you won’t regret it. While you’re there, be sure to pick up one of its homemade cannolis for dessert.
Coco's Italian Market is family run and has insanely good fried ravioli. Plus, there's a full market where you can get authentic Italian products, produce, and homemade pastas.
This place is pretty fancy so you might want to give your skinny jeans a rest for the night and wear something a bit nicer. And also maybe make a reservation. But most importantly, don’t leave without having a piece of the tiramisu.
Come to Nonna's for the lasagna, it's fresh, loaded with layers of butternut squash, spinach, ricotta, and 2 different kinds of their famous sauces.
Tucked away in the middle of the Edgehill Village complex, Bella Napoli may have one of the quaintest courtyards in town. Enjoy a couple of slices and some Italian vino by the glass while live music entertains you under string lights on the patio. Particularly popular is the classic margherita pie— the mozzarella di bufala holds up well to the infernal 800-degree oven that creates the perfect amount of char on the bottom of salty crusts. Pies are left uncut when they are delivered to the table—the traditional Italian way to serve a pizza— to keep the crust and cheese fresher.
Mama Mia's has a large Sicilian menu, but their classic lasagna is one of our favorites. They also have a killer list of homemade pizzas and calzones.
Finezza Italian Bistro is Italian cuisine at it's finest, and has been a Nashville favorite for nearly 25 years.
Italia caters to all wants, needs, and dietary restrictions with their vegan, regular, gluten free, and whole wheat crusts. Their menu also includes an array of pasta dishes and mediterranean cuisine.