The Best Italian Restaurants in New York City

For a welcoming atmosphere and mouthwatering pasta, visit Frankies 457 Spuntino
For a welcoming atmosphere and mouthwatering pasta, visit Frankies 457 Spuntino | © Frankies 457 Spuntino
Charlotte Chorley

People love Italian food for its delicious, simple ingredients and hearty flavors, and in bustling New York City, it’s never far away. Here’s our pick of the best Italian restaurants and trattorias in Little Italy and beyond.

1. Ai Fiori

Bar, Restaurant, Italian, French

Ai Fiori new york
© Ai Fiori
Meaning “among the flowers” in Italian, Ai Fiori serves some of the best dishes in town. Celebrating Italian Riviera and French cuisine, it prides itself on its modern twists on classic dishes, such as vellutata (lobster soup, périgord black truffles and croutons) and blue crab spaghetti. Upon entering the restaurant, you’ll notice a beautiful white marble bar where the skilled bar staff serves up carefully crafted cocktails to seduce your palate.

2. Etcetera Etcetera

Restaurant, Italian

Etcetera Etcetera
Courtesy of Etcetera Etcetera
Near Broadway and Hell’s Kitchen, Etcetera Etcetera eschews the rustic atmosphere favored by some Italian restaurants and keeps things contemporary. The sleek, stylish interior adorned with pops of red and the outdoor terrace overlooking West 44th Street attract casual diners and late-night theater-goers. Restaurateur Daniele Kucera, who hails from the Friuli–Venezia Giulia region of Italy, has created a menu full of simple but irresistible dishes. The home-made basil spaghetti with hearty chunks of crab and sweet roasted peppers and the grilled skirt steak served in a tangy lemon, parsley and garlic sauce are two favorites.

3. Locanda Vini e Olii

Restaurant, Italian

Locanda Vini e Olii
Courtesy of Locanda Vini e Olii
When husband and wife François and Catherine Louy found a disused 103-year-old pharmacy in Brooklyn, they knew they’d discovered the perfect location for their new restaurant venture, Locanda Vini e Olii. After lovingly refurbishing the building, the couple opened it in 2001. In 2010, they sold it to Michael Schall, experienced sommelier Rocco Spagnardi and executive chef Michele Baldacci, whose Florentine upbringing shines through in the authentic menu, and it’s still going strong today. Tempting dishes include the fresh pappardelle pasta with wild boar ragù and the grilled duck breast served with a fig-shallot marmalade and chickpeas.

5. Piccolo Angolo

Restaurant, Italian

Piccolo Angolo, 621 Hudson St, New York, NY. exterior storefront of an Italian restaurant in Manhattans West Village neighborhood.. Image shot 01/2021. Exact date unknown.
© Robert K. Chin - Storefronts / Alamy Stock Photo
Run by the Migliorini family, Piccolo Angolo serves up authentic Italian food in NYC. Since its establishment, this restaurant has become a staple in the hip West Village, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone in the city who hasn’t heard of this charming little place. Despite its small size, its big love of Italian food is the reason behind Piccolo Angolo’s enviable popularity. With an impressive array of wines on offer to accompany the traditional tomato-smothered pasta dishes and delicious entrées, it offers a quaint taste of Italy.

6. Rafele

Restaurant, Wine Bar, Italian

People rave about Rafele’s delicious cuisine. Opened in 2012, it’s the brainchild of Raffaele Ronca, a native of Naples and former chef at Bellavitae and Palma, and Romeo Palmisano, also from Naples. This 70-seat, bi-level trattoria draws on Ronca’s ancestral heritage of butchers and fishers to give the food a family touch. The tonnarelli cacio e pepe and the branzino with spinach and potatoes are excellent choices. Here, you’ll have an intimate and personal dining experience with fantastic rustic and traditional tastes.

7. Rosemary’s

Restaurant, Bakery, Italian

Rosemary’s
© Rosemary’s
Restaurateur Carlos Suarez ensures that Rosemary’s feels just like home; the Greenwich Village haunt is named after his mother and inspired by her Tuscan heritage. The interiors feature wooden rafters, exposed brick and terracotta tiles, while outside, the restaurant has a rooftop garden, providing herbs and other produce. The minestrone followed by the linguine with preserved lemon and pickled chili or the grilled hanger steak with spinach, potato salad and charred ramps makes for a satisfying meal.

8. L’Artusi

Restaurant, Italian

If deliciously good pasta is the only thing you’re craving, L’Artusi is the place to go. The garganelli mushroom ragu and the tomato-smothered bucatini with pancetta and chilies will disappear in a fraction of the time you’ll have waited to get a table. If you need more convincing, the restaurant features elegant decor and red table wine that gives plenty of bang for your buck.

9. Frankies 457 Spuntino

Restaurant, Italian, Vegan, Vegetarian

Frankies 457 Spuntino
© Frankies 457 Spuntino
The wait for your meal can feel agonizingly long at Frankies 457 Spuntino. Not that the service is bad – it’s as warm and friendly as any NYC trattoria – but the smell of hot bona fide Italian food fills your nostrils as soon as you walk in, thanks to the open kitchen behind the bar. The welcoming whiff pervades the indoor area and the cozy backyard; arrive early to grab a table here in summer unless you prefer to feel immersed in the Italian family atmosphere while you eat. Yes, your grandmother would love it here. Frankies is for anyone and everyone with an insatiable appetite for Italian food, with the menu must-have being the freshly made cavatelli with spicy sausage and browned sage butter.

Planning a food-led escape to the Big Apple? We’ve curated a selection of top-rated foodie tours and a hotel where cuisine takes center stage, here.

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