chunk of parmiggiano reggiano cheese next to a wheel of aged 20 years cheese with olive oil and tomatoes

America’s Best Italian Restaurants

chunk of parmiggiano reggiano cheese next to a wheel of aged 20 years cheese with olive oil and tomatoes

Many restaurants in the US directly import goods from Italy

Italian-American restaurants are plentiful in the United States. Italian-American cooking was crafted by turn-of-the-century immigrants, whose creativity, in conjunction with a new environment in which food was abundant, resulted in the checkered-cloth, family-style cuisine we know and love today.  These restaurants surpassed the old country’s, whose fervor for eating out did not catch on as readily  – for years, Italian cuisine in Italy remained in the hands of nonne, passed down from family to family. It has only been in the last thirty years that there has been an advent of chefs seeking to bring the Italian cuisine as it is today to an American audience at a level of sophistication that it had not enjoyed in previous years, and Italian restaurants have been popping up with more vigor and frequency than ever before.

Travel + Leisure Magazine recently named the Best Italian Restaurants in the US, a list of 30 restaurants spread across the country, many headed by renowned chefs seeking to give a new twist on Italy’s fresh, seasonal ingredients and present-day cuisine. The list includes restaurants from those specializing in regional cuisine to those boasting an impressive wine list (Italy has more than 2000 grape varietals) to pizzaioli extraordinaires. We’ve taken that article and, to save time and energy of flipping through all of the separate pages, have listed our top three favorites – each you can’t go wrong with – below.

 Spiaggia: Chicago, IL

Spiagga's entryway

Spiagga’s marble entrance is just the start of the fine dining within.

Spiaggia’s prominent presence in Chicago’s restaurant scene and remarkable record of awards and honors has been well earned. As a shining example of elegance and refinery – and the favorite restaurant of a certain current president who hails from the area – it boasts not only exceptional Italian cuisine made from the freshest ingredients (products such as white truffles, prosciutto, and an array of cheeses are imported directly from Italy while others are homegrown), but also a wine list with the some of the best and rarest wines on the peninsula. In addition, its location on Michigan Avenue with views of the lake and heart of the city provides for a dining experience fit for a king (and other world leaders).

Roberta’s: Brooklyn, NY

Inside of Roberta's in Brooklyn, NY

Don’t be fooled by Roberta’s unassuming dining space.
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When Roberta’s came to the hipster Brooklyn restaurant scene in 2008, it was a small pizza joint with a wood oven, homegrown and homemade fare, and a creative chef. Its pizzas are superb, but in recent years the expanding menu has caught the eye of critics and food-lovers everywhere. The unassuming spot boasts dishes perfectly prepared by the genius of Chef Carlo Mirachi presented in a fashion that you’d expect to find at, let’s say…Spiaggia. Plates range from tagliatelle lightly tossed with radiccio and walnut, to pork collar and cuttlefish – and the price is right. Be warned, however: this former up-and-coming restaurant has up-and-came, and does not take regular reservations.

Bar La Grassa: Minneapolis, MN

Outside brick wall and banner of Bar La Grassa in Minneapolis, MN

Bar La Grassa is a trendy and tasty hotspot.
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Chef Isaac Becker, recently named Best Chef in the Midwest, created this stylish restaurant that offers its guests a menu simply broken down into antipasti, bruschettas, pastas (dry, filled, and fresh), meat and fish, and vegetables. Guests can order their food cicchetti-style, to share while sipping on a bottle from the Italian-centered wine list, or piece together a multiple-course meal. This Minneapolis hot spot is nice medium between the former two restaurants – with varied price points, trendy-casual dress, and the option to make reservations.

Do you have any additions to this list or experiences at these restaurants?

About the Author: Martina

An Italian American who is proud of my heritage, I love all things Italy and can't get enough of learning about and sharing the food, culture, history and people - especially the food and wine! I have lived and researched in multiple Italian cities and traveled up and down the Boot, but my heart belongs to Rome and I am fairly certain that I was meant to have been born Roman. At Select Italy I work as the Food and Wine Specialist. Follow me on Twitter @MartiZuc

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