The Best Italian Restaurants in Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is home to many great Italian restaurants
Memphis is home to many great Italian restaurants | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Alyson Krueger
29 September 2020

In the early 20th century, Memphis was a hotspot for Italian immigrants. Today, new Italian chefs have flocked to the Tennessee city to introduce fresh culinary adventures. Here are the top spots, both old and new, not to miss.

Pete and Sam’s

Cafe, Italian, $$$
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Native Memphians see Pete and Sam’s in East Memphis as a home away from home. This comfortable, family-style restaurant, opened in 1948, is where locals go to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, cheer themselves up after a bad day or enjoy a lazy Sunday evening. From the vintage neon sign outside to the red-and-white check tablecloths, this restaurant screams old-school. But the food is so good – don’t miss the mushroom pizza and toasted ravioli – even the most adventurous foodies come back again and again.

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen

Bistro, Italian, $$$
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This trendy restaurant, in Brookhaven Circle, is all about the blending of two cultures: Italian and Southern. The chefs, friends Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, completed culinary school in South Carolina and Calabria, Italy, and decided to combine the two traditions. In a chic but snug setting, you can dine on cornbread topped with whipped ricotta or meatballs filled with polenta. Here, you’ll get an Italian feast with a side of Southern hospitality.

Fino’s from the Hill

Deli, Italian
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Cannolis
© Louis Hansel / Unsplash

Joann Johnson, the daughter of Sicilian immigrants, opened Fino’s as a grocery store in 1990 after she wanted a one-stop shop to buy authentic Italian ingredients. It evolved into selling mouthwatering sandwiches and desserts to go. Now, it’s a casual but full-on Italian deli where you can stop in for a sandwich with fresh salami and mozzarella or a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Order a box of cannolis to bring home with you. In 2019, Fino’s was acquired by famed local chefs Todd and Kelly English, who promise to keep these classics while adding new menu items. Stay tuned.

Spindini

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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This beloved, downtown Italian restaurant is perfect for unwinding after a day of sightseeing. It’s steps away from the city’s biggest attractions, including Beale Street, the Orpheum Theatre, the FedExForum and the Peabody Memphis (a historic hotel). The restaurant is known for its fresh, local ingredients, with produce from a nearby farm and honey from its own beehives. The wood-fired pizzas, made right in front of you, are a particular treat – try the lobster and bacon specialty. Live music on the weekend evenings adds to the elegant but lively atmosphere.

Frank Grisanti’s Restaurant

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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In 1909, Willie and Mary Grisanti opened an Italian restaurant in Memphis to share their family’s northern Italian recipes. Different restaurants, owned by various family members, have come and gone over the years, but this one, in East Memphis, remains. The restaurant is old-school and unpretentious, focusing on authentic and simple menu items honed over generations, such as the pappardelle with sweet sausage ragu.

Hog and Hominy

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Hog and Hominy is the second venture of chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, local Memphians who hail from large Italian families. A favorite among stylish, young professionals, this restaurant is a place to see and be seen, as well as try innovative food and drinks. You can’t go wrong with anything wood-fired here, from the oysters to the pizza (Thunderbird! Forty Twice! is topped with fontina, mozzarella, calabrese and spicy honey). Don’t miss pizza happy hour, when each pie costs $10. Hog and Hominy is currently closed for renovations after a fire. Check its website before your visit for updates.

These recommendations were updated on September 29, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.