Skip Times Square—These Are the Best Italian Restaurants in NYC

Updated 04/02/18

If the thought of a hearty spaghetti pomodoro with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan and a glass of Montepulciano sounds like your idea of weeknight dinner heaven, you've come to the right place. In colder months, New York City is not short on cozy, dimly lit Italian restaurants to hunker down in during a storm and carbo-load until you can barely walk home. But even on hot summer nights, other Italian restaurants—those that offer generous outdoor seating and specialize in Southern coastal dishes—are perfect for a dinner alfresco.

Have we made you hungry yet? These are the best Italian restaurants in NYC.

Best Italian Restaurants in Brooklyn — Lilia
Courtesy of Lilia

Lilia

The Restaurant: When it opened in 2016, Lilia quickly became the Italian restaurant darling of Williamsburg, and perhaps even all of NYC. Chef-Owner Missy Robbins's innovative menu serves dishes that will leave you wanting more in a relaxed, light-drenched (in the daytime) industrial atmosphere. 

The Neighborhood: Williamsburg

The Specialty: Order the sheep's milk agnolotti drenched in saffron or the malfadini with pink peppercorns.

Best Italian Restaurants in Brooklyn
Courtesy of Le Fanfare

Le Fanfare

The Restaurant: From its charming exterior, you can already tell that Le Fanfare will be a wonderful, detail-oriented experience. This newcomer in Greenpoint is relatively under the radar still, which makes its discovery that much more special. The atmosphere is low-key, the food is delicious, and, if you're lucky, you may get treated to a live performance by the owner's jazz band.

The Neighborhood: Greenpoint

The Specialty: The sweet potato agnolotti with saffron, toasted almond, pecorino, and red sorrel is worth writing home about. 

 

Best Italian Restaurants in NYC — Lil Frankies
Courtesy of Lil' Frankies

Lil Frankie's

The Restaurant: Ask any local where to order the best delivery pasta (not an easy task), and Lil Frankie's spaghetti limone is bound to come up. This old-school East Village favorite serves top-notch Italian in a casual atmosphere. Far from being upscale or uptight, Lil Frankie's is more like your incredibly good local Italian spot. 

The Neighborhood: East Village

The Specialty: Order the spaghetti limone—a classic that will never disappoint: It's drenched in lemon, butter, and cheese. What could go wrong?

Best Italian Restaurants in NYC — Fausto

Fausto

The Restaurant: The wonderful thing at Fausto is that the food is just as delicious as the décor is beautiful. The warm, camel tone-on-tone space is sultry, minimal, and romantic, while the food is full of surprises. Recently opened at the end of 2017, this Park Slope newcomer is bound to become an instant favorite. 

The Neighborhood: Park Slope

The Specialty: Try the duck ragu bigoli alla torchio or the orecchiette with fennel-braised pork.

Best Italian Restaurants in NYC — Pizza
Courtesy of Roberta's

Roberta's

The Restaurant: Ask any New Yorker what the best pizza in the city is, and you'll undoubtedly hear Roberta's thrown around a few times. The Bushwick hot spot serves more than just pizza, though. The pasta is also known to be delicious. What's more, they have a large outdoor area, so you can eat your slice alfresco in summer months. 

The Neighborhood: Bushwick

The Specialty: Definitely order a pizza (any pizza—they're all delicious) and follow it up with torchietti with clam sauce.

Best Italian Restaurants in NYC — Carbone
Courtesy of Carbone

Carbone

The Restaurant: Whatever restaurant the Torrisi boys decide to open, it will without a doubt turn to gold—and Carbone is no different. Continuously ranked as one of New York's best Italian restaurants, Carbone is theatrical and made to feel like an old-school 1950s mafia hot spot. The place is dimly lit, cozy, and full of life. The food is worth writing home about. 

The Neighborhood: SoHo

The Specialty: Order the spicy rigatoni vodka and the veal Parmesan. It may sound simple, but you won't regret it. 

Best Italian Restaurants in NYC
Courtesy of Santina

Santina

The Restaurant: Located underneath the High Line next to Whitney Museum in NYC's Meatpacking District, Santina is a cheery, coastal Italian respite from the madness outside. Designed by famed architect Renzo Piano, the space is filled with lemon trees and Murano glass chandeliers. The Major Food Group restaurant specializes in Southern coastal Italian cuisine. Its cocktail selection is also a do-not-miss, specifically the Manganelli Punch, which comes served in a ceramic pineapple. 

The Neighborhood: Meatpacking District

The Specialty: Order the cecinas (an Italian chickpea pancake) with a side of avocado trapanese and Calabrian tuna to start. You really can't go wrong from there. 

Best Italian Restaurants in NYC — Maialino
Courtesy of Maialino

Maialino

The Restaurant: Maialino is Danny Meyer's answer to a Roman Trattoria in the heart of Manhattan. Located in the stunning Gramercy Park Hotel in front of Manhattan's most exclusive park (yes, that is a thing), the vibe at Maialino is relaxed, loud, and very cozy. Dim lights and blue-and-white checkered tablecloths accompany traditional Italian cuisine that's thoughtfully prepared. The restaurant also has one of the best private dining rooms in the city—if that's your thing.

The Neighborhood: Gramercy Park

The Specialty: The cacio e pepe is a fan favorite, as well as the bucatini all'amatriciana, oxtails, and braised lamb. Start with the buttery melt-in-your-mouth delicious prosciutto di San Daniele. 

Best Italian Restaurants in NYC — Il Buco Alimentari
Courtesy of Il Buco Alimentari

Il Buco Alimentari

The Restaurant: Il Buco Alimentari is the type of restaurant that immediately makes you feel at home. The service is friendly, the wine is flowing, and the food is on point, simple, and authentic—just like the décor. What makes Il Buco stand out from the rest is its dedication to the best and freshest ingredients—which really comes through in its dishes. 

The Neighborhood: SoHo

The Specialty: Sit at the bar, and start with an olive oil tasting. Yes, seriously. Then order a simple cacio e pepe and lots of wine.

Best Italian Restaurants in NYC — Barano
Courtesy of Barano

Barano

The Restaurant: Located on an unassuming corner of South Williamsburg, Barano is a welcome surprise in an otherwise sleepy neighborhood. Thoughtfully designed by Brooklyn-based firm Home Studios, the space is chic in the most understated way. The menu is well-executed, casual, traditional Italian, with a few delightful surprises.

The Neighborhood: Williamsburg

The Specialty: The Italian meatballs are a wonderful place to start, but the pièce de résistance is without a doubt the saffron gigli served with Calabrian honey, pecorino, and black pepper.

Best Italian Restaurants in NYC — Café Altro Paradiso
Courtesy of Café Altro Paradiso

Café Altro Paradiso

The Restaurant: This downtown newcomer is already a fan favorite—in part thanks to its exquisite décor but also because of its innovative Italian menu. Café Altro Paradiso is run by the team behind beloved neighborhood spot Estela, which gained cult status after the Obamas dined there in 2014. It remains to be seen whether they will frequent Café Altro Paradiso as well.

The Neighborhood: SoHo

The Specialty: The New York Times' Pete Wells recommends the spicy anchovy crostini, carpaccio, and a spaghetti with ramp pesto or garganelli with chicken ragu.

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