These Are the Best Italian Restaurants in Boston Right Now

From old-school red sauce joints, to chic seafood, to soulful reinterpretations of classic comforts.

Big bowls of pasta, rich sauces, fresh ingredients, ever-flowing wine—there are many reasons diners can’t get enough Italian food. The classic cuisine is expansive, thanks to the regional diversity of Italy and the country’s outsized influence on dining culture in the U.S. From the North End to Southie, Dorchester to Allston, here’s our guide to the reliably best Italian restaurants in Boston.

Last updated January 2024; check back for periodic updates.

Bar Mezzana

Fresh crudo and cocktails at Bar Mezzana. / Photo by Adam DeTour

Bar Mezzana

Chef Colin Lynch’s oft-changing crudo preparations are where to start at this coastal Italian-inspired stunner. But the house-made pastas, vibrant salads, and even well-composed fancy toasts are also works of simple perfection.

360 Harrison Ave., South End, Boston, 617-530-1770,

Carlo's Cucina Italiana sign

Photo via Facebook used with permission

Carlo’s Cucina Italiana

It’s been a family-friendly (and just plain friendly) favorite for more than 45 years thanks to homestyle fare like calamari Veneziana (sautéed with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, cherry peppers, and olives and smothered in a sweet tomato sauce), and house-made fusilli with garlicky broccoli rabe.

131 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-254-9759,

Contessa. / Photo by Douglas Friedman


Landing a table at Contessa is one of the toughest gambits in town—but as our own restaurant critic discovered during his visits, it’s absolutely worth the effort. The first Boston restaurant from NYC-based Major Food Group, whose portfolio includes Michelin-starred restaurants around the world, Contessa is a glitzy rooftop destination at the Newbury Hotel. The big buzz and stunning views through walls of windows might get you in the door, but the fantastic and highly-finessed contemporary Italian cuisine—sumptuous pastas (spicy lobster capellini), fancified pizzas (topped with littleneck clams or black truffle, perhaps) and a signature Florentine-style steak for two—will keep you coming back. If you can score one of the scorching-hot seats, that is.

One Newbury St., Boston, 617-536-5700,

Italian grinder at Coppa

The Italian grinder at Coppa. / Photo provided


More than a decade in, the menu at this South End enoteca is still consistently creative and well-executed, from the blistered pizzas to the hand made pastas (such as a fusilli with fennel sausage, seared escarole, and a white bean ragu). As the name suggests, though, co-chef-owner Jamie Bissonnette is a snout-to-tail master—so go ahead, please order the Italian grinder.

253 Shawmut Ave., South End, Boston, 617-391-0902,

pappardelle at Delfin

Pappardelle at Delfino. / Photo by Kelsey Cronin for Best of Boston 2016


It’s not because of the limited restaurant options in Roslindale that this cozy trattoria is busy every night. It has everything to do with warm, welcoming service, and the generous portions of Italian cuisine, like thick ribbons of pappardelle with shrimp and arugula, and a hearty take on bruschetta, which tops grilled sourdough with eggplant tapenade, goat cheese, and cherry tomatoes.

754 South St., Roslindale Village, 617-327-8359,

Geppetto. / Photo by Brian Samuels Photography


Chef-owner Will Gilson’s new Italian restaurant was the highly anticipated capstone to a three-venue project in a single Cambridge neighborhood. It has quickly established itself as a standout, thanks to elegant crudos, shareable feasts (such as pork chop Milanese swabbed with caper-and-lemon brown butter), and a fantastic house made pasta program overseen by Tony Susi, whose Sage restaurants were important forerunners of Boston’s contemporary Italian scene. (Oh, the room-roving amaro cart doesn’t hurt, either.)

100 North First St., Cambridge,

Frutti di mare. / Photo courtesy of La Famiglia Giorgio’s

La Familia Giorgio’s

The Giorgio family ensures everyone in your family leaves happy and full with a huge menu featuring huge portions. Try the meaty bolognese, the spicy fra diavolo, or the creamy pesto sauces—and know that the $3 up-charge for one of the house-made pasta selections is always worth it. There are also gluten-free pastas and pizzas.

112 Salem St., North End, Boston, 617-367-6711,

Fox & the Knife’s saffron-tinted spaghetti with clams. / Brian Samuels Photography

Fox & the Knife

This Southie stunner from James Beard Award-winning chef Karen Akunowicz produces soulful fare from its open kitchen that earned it three-and-a-half stars in our pages, as well as a Food & Wine Best New Restaurant nod. Everything about the place is an ode to the traditions Akunowicz took to heart during a formative year cooking in Modena, from the must-order taleggio-stuffed focaccia, to the comforting, saffron-flecked spaghetti con vongole, to the daily aperitivo-hour snacks and sips. (Interested in Akunowicz’s take on Southern Italian fare? Swing by Fox’s brand-new, one-block-away sibling, Bar Volpe.)

28 W. Broadway, South Boston, 617-766-8630,

Giulia chef-owner Michael Pagliarini. / Photo by Erik Jacobs


Our 2023 Best of Boston winner for Best Italian, this decade-old trattoria from chef Michael Pagliarini and his partner Pamela Ralston remains at the head of the pack for good reason. Several reasons, actually: its pretty, rustic ambiance; superb local sourcing; spectacular grilled and roasted meats; and, above all, delectable pastas rolled out every day on a long table that seats big parties at night. If you’re lucky, may you get a seat at the chef’s counter, which is also where Pagliarini’s team rolls out their fresh pasta every day.

1682 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, Cambridge, 617-441-2800,

Tagliatelle al ragu at La Morra in Brookline

Tagliatelle al ragú at La Morra in Brookline. / Photo by Isara Krieger

La Morra

Head off the beaten path to this Brookline Village trattoria, an under-heralded gem for more than 15 years. Chef-owner Josh Ziskin’s seasonal, northern Italian cuisine exudes rustic, refined comfort. See: lasagne with rabbit and crispy polenta, the signature tagliatelle Bolognese, and the wood-grilled hen under a brick.

48 Boylston St., Brookline Village, 617-739-0007,

Chef-owner Douglass Williams of Mida.

Chef-owner Douglass Williams of Mida. / Photo by Christopher Churchill for Best Restaurants in Boston


We often find ourselves popping into chef Douglass Williams’s South End neighborhood spot to see what inspired, seasonal flavors the chef-owner is cooking up. The pastas are indeed the stars, but the rich focaccia; assured entrees, like roasted chicken with mushroom risotto and guanciale-mustard vinaigrette; and oft-changing flavors of gelato are among the many reasons to return. Meanwhile, in addition to its Newton location, the acclaimed Italian restaurant has expanded to East Boston this summer in an airy space with a sizable patio and gorgeous waterfront views. With partners Brian Lesser and Seth Gerber, Williams is serving up plenty of Mida’s popular pastas (and might we recommend the arancini?)—plus, something previously exclusive to the Newton location and a casual food hall offshoot downtown: pizza.

782 Tremont St., South End, Boston, 617-936-3490; 261 Walnut St., Newton, 617-546-8010; 65 Lewis St., East Boston, 617-996-1224,

Pammy’s in Cambridge has updated its dining room with stylish table dividers to enhance guest safety. / Photo by Pat Piasecki


Why do we love Pammy’s? Let us count the ways: First, there’s chef Chris Willis’s superb prix fixe menus, full of sophisticated, contemporary Italian notions like scallop crudo with garlic aioli and saffron citronette, or honeynut squash agnolotti with nori butter and blistered sunflower seeds. Then there’s the superlative vino and outstanding cocktails that flow at the bar (where a la carte ordering is allowed), thanks to wine director Katie Hubbard and bar manager Rob Hicks. Finally, there’s the option to take home canned sauces and bottles of house-made Meyer limoncello. Ah, Pammy’s—that’s amore.

928 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-945-1761,

Red Snapper Milanese from Prezza

Red snapper Milanese at Prezza. / Photo courtesy of Prezza


Chef Anthony Caturano’s rustic, peasant-style dishes, like grilled littleneck clams with sausage, braised short rib, and the singular raviolo di uovo have stood the test of time in the crowded North End. Amid all the (many, many) other Italian joints in the neighborhood, Prezza has remained a singular standout for more than 20 years, even as Caturano has expanded with two North Shore restaurants, called Tonno.

24 Fleet St., North End, Boston, 617-227-1577,

lobster ravioli at Rino's Place in East Boston

Guy Fieri memorably devoured lobster ravioli at Rino’s Place in East Boston. / Lobster ravioli at Rino’s Italian by Rachel + Micah on Flickr / Creative Commons

Rino’s Place

This 10-table spot is worth the inevitable wait. Second-generation chef-owner Anthony DiCenso’s lobster-stuffed ravioli is a menu standout, but the house-made potato gnocchi, linguine with calamari and marinara, eggplant Parmigiana over house-made rigatoni, or really anything on the menu will hit the spot. The portions are huge, the prices are reasonable, and Guy Fieri is a huge fan. Need we say more?

258 Saratoga St., East Boston, 617-567-7412,

The chic dining room at Sorellina.

The chic dining room at Sorellina.


Swanky, elegant, and distinctive, chef-owner Jamie Mammano’s regional Italian restaurant is a Copley Square gem, thanks to high-touch service like expert wine recs and gratis chocolate truffles at the end of the meal. Celebrate special moments with show-stopping plates like the bone-in veal Milanese over soft polenta; lamb chops with celery root and pomegranate; and Spanish-leaning grilled octopus over squid-ink couscous.

One Huntington Ave., Back Bay, Boston, 617-412-4600,

SRV Boston

Cicchetti at SRV. / Photo by Morgan Ione Yeager


There are so many ways to love this instant South End classic. There’s the street-facing cicchetti bar, the standing-room space to order small bites (for a small price) such as orange-and-herb-marinated olives, pork and beef polpette, and our favorite, baccala mantecato (salt cod spread on jet-black bread with herbs and garlic). Then there are chef Michael Lombardi’s bold pasta dishes, made with grains milled in-house; and pastry guru Meghan Thompson’s outstanding dolci—best enjoyed in the twilight on the secluded back patio.

569 Columbus Ave., South End, Boston, 617-536-9500,


Fans of chef-owner (and ever-colorful Twitter presence) Jen Royle know that there’s nowhere like her raucous North End restaurant, which is famous for its seven-course, family-style feasts served between two communal tables at appointed seating times. Maybe you’re not of the mindset right now to share platters of oversized meatballs, short rib ravioli, seared octopus, and more with strangers—if the last couple years have you hungry for human contact, though, you’ll find no better place for it. You will leave Royle’s nightly dinner parties feeling full, and in more ways than one.

445 Hanover St., Boston, 857-250-4286,

The “Old School” pizza at Tavolo, topped with green pepper, red onion, and pepperoni. / Photo courtesy of Tavolo


For more than 10 years, this “Dorchester Italian” spot from hometown chef Chris Douglass has been a neighborhood go-to for casual comfort food, cheffy side dishes, and pizza. Share one of the pear-, gorgonzola-, and prosciutto-topped pies, try the eggy chitarra carbonara, or indulge in the chili-flaked meatballs to discover why it remains a hit with so many regulars.

1918 Dorchester Ave., Ashmont, Dorchester, 617-822-1918,