51 Best Old-School Italian Restaurants in America

New Jersey: Spano’s


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Savute's in Wichita, Kansas
Savute's Italian Ristorante/Yelp


Hankering for Italian food? There's no shortage of cheap, delicious pizza across America, but what about something that demands a little more finesse, like veal Parmigiana or ravioli heaped with red sauce? From hidden gems known mainly to locals or historic landmarks that have been open for decades, we've tracked down the best old-school Italian restaurant in every state and Washington, D.C. 

Related: Iconic U.S. Restaurants to Try Before You Die

Alabama: Joe’s Italian

Alabama: Joe’s Italian

A short drive south on I-65 from Birmingham, Joe's is off the beaten path but worth the drive, reviewers say. Fans say staples like lasagna and spaghetti are solid, but Joe's is best known for its impressive selection of cakes and desserts. Pro tip: Get the strawberry cake.

Related: Roadside Restaurants Across America Worth a Detour

Sorrento's in Anchorage, Alaska
Stephanie M./Yelp

Alaska: Sorrento’s

A local favorite for more than 40 years, cozy Sorrento's proves great Italian has made its way to Alaska. Reviewers rave about the traditional pastas, but you'll also find a few halibut dishes in a nod to local cuisine.

Arizona: DeFalco’s Italian Eatery and Grocery
Melody K./Yelp

Arizona: DeFalco’s Italian Eatery and Grocery

Whether you just want to stop in to buy some homemade sausage or sit down to a plate of pasta, DeFalco's has family recipes dating back more than 100 years. Devotees say you can't beat the calzones or the Italian combo subs.

Related: 50 Best Subs, Grinders, and Hoagies Across America

Venesian Inn in Tontitown, Arkansas
Jackie F./Yelp

Arkansas: Venesian Inn

Proudly serving northwest Arkansas since 1947, the family-owned Venesian Inn serves up classic Italian fare like chicken Parmigiana and three-cheese lasagna. Try out a local favorite: fried chicken and spaghetti with meat sauce.

Fior d'Italia in San Francisco, California
Ann S./Yelp

California: Fior d’Italia

San Francisco
Fior d'Italia opened in 1886 and claims to be America's oldest Italian restaurant — it even reopened in a tent after the catastrophic 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Today the landmark still has its old-school charm. The osso buco earns particular raves.

Related: American Restaurants That Revolutionized the Way We Eat

Colorado: Gaetano’s
Mindy M./Yelp

Colorado: Gaetano’s

Gaetano's and its mob-connected owners set up shop in Denver in 1947, kicking off a colorful history: Frank Sinatra even played poker in the basement. The Denver Post recommends the minestrone to start, followed by pasta carbonara. Brunch also gets high marks.

Connecticut: Consiglio’s
Max G./Yelp

Connecticut: Consiglio’s

New Haven
A New Haven staple for more than 70 years, Consiglio's is still family-run and stands out with a few modern flourishes: a food truck that brings authentic Italian fare to local events and murder-mystery dinners to entertain customers. It's still the food that rules: Reviewers say the homemade cavatelli with braciole can't be beat.

Related: Beloved Restaurants and Bars That Closed Permanently This Year

Delaware: Mrs. Robino’s

Delaware: Mrs. Robino’s

Mrs. Robino's is a Best of Delaware award winner that has been serving traditional Italian favorites since 1940. Crab lovers take note: A special Thursday menu includes crabs and spaghetti, a dish highly recommended by diners.

Washington D.C.: Filomena Ristorante
Rayne G./Yelp

District of Columbia: Filomena Ristorante


This New York-style restaurant has been open since 1983. With New York and the Italian roots of the founder's parents. If you visit, keep your eyes open for stars. Celebrity guests have included Jimmy Stewart, Cindy Crawford, Goldie Hawn, Denzel Washington, Robert De Niro, Alex Ovechkin, Glenn Close, and B.B. King. It's no surprise celebrities have sought out this old-fashioned Italian joint, as the meatballs, ravioli, and arancini (fried rice balls) all get raves. 

Related: Celebrity Hangouts Where You Can Actually Afford to Eat

Florida: La Locanda

Florida: La Locanda

La Locanda is a down-to-earth joint that has been pleasing diners looking for simple, authentic Italian fare in trendy Miami Beach. Thrillist raves that the "thin-crust pizzas are beyond compare," and other reviewers say you shouldn't miss the tiramisu.

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Nino's in Atlanta, Georgia
Lexi W./Yelp

Georgia: Nino’s

Nino's opened in 1968 and claims to be the oldest family-owned Italian restaurant in Atlanta. It also has an impressive roster of celebrity guests, including Paul Newman and Kenny Rogers. The restaurant has gotten high marks for both food and service from reviewers.

Mediterraneo Hawaii
Jasmine J./Yelp

Hawaii: Mediterraneo Hawaii

Mediterraneo Hawaii is located in a humble cottage, but the food is not only authentic but top-notch. Fans rave about the squid ink pasta and the eggplant and porcini mushroom risotto, but you can't go wrong with almost anything on the menu, ranging from pizza to tiramisu. 

Related: The Best Seafood Restaurant for Takeout in Every State

Luciano's in Boise, Idaho
Jared V./Yelp

Idaho: Luciano’s

Popular Luciano's bills itself as "Boise's favorite hole-in-the-wall local Italian restaurant," and TripAdvisor reviewers confirm that it's a great place for a classic, unpretentious meal. Dinner often comes with a wait (reservations aren't accepted), but diners say the pasta and warm ciabatta are worth the wait.

Kristen C./Yelp

Illinois: Bruna's Ristorante

Stepping into Bruna's Ristorante, the third-oldest Italian restaurant in Chicago, is like an enchanting — and hunger-inducing — time warp: The place is known for its stuffed shells (with extra sauce), cheesy lasagna, and a Sunday Supper during which the legendary roast chicken is on the menu. 

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Iaria's in Indianapolis, Indiana
Erin B./Yelp

Indiana: Iaria’s

Iaria's opened in 1933 and is the very definition of an old-school, hole-in-the-wall Italian joint, with its red booths and neon signs. Diners say the lasagna and cannoli are both worth a trip, and the red sauce is a winner for anyone who likes it on the sweeter side.

Tursi's Latin King in Des Moines, Iowa
Andrea T./Yelp

Iowa: Tursi’s Latin King

Des Moines
Tursi's Latin King has been serving authentic Italian in Des Moines since 1947 and won scores of "Best Italian" awards from locals. Don't leave without trying the restaurant's specialty, chicken spiedini. It's marinated chicken breast rolled in bread crumbs, charbroiled, and served with a special sauce.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Spots for Fried Chicken in Every State

Kansas: Savute's
Stacey T./Yelp

Kansas: Savute's

Opened in 1944, family-owned Savute's has reportedly fed Elvis Presley and other luminaries. A dive in the best sense of the word, the dinner-only restaurant also churns out respectable steaks, although reviewers say traditional red-sauce favorites like lasagna and spaghetti are the best bet.

Pompilio's in Newport, Kentucky
Brenda B./Yelp

Kentucky: Pompilio’s

Trolleys bound for Cincinnati used to clack by the doorway of Pompilio's when it opened in 1933, and its storied history continues: Everyone from gangsters to Marilyn Monroe is said to have eaten here. The restaurant was even the location of a famous scene in "Rain Man." Fortunately, the food is still up to snuff — the cannoli in particular, fans say.

Related: Oldest Restaurant in Every State

Louisiana: Vincent’s
Alicia M./Yelp

Louisiana: Vincent’s

New Orleans
Vincent's serves up Sicilian-inspired grub in an elegant but low-key atmosphere in Cajun country. Customers say the house-special cannelloni doesn't disappoint, and neither does the extensive wine list.

Maine: Maria’s
Marcella C./Yelp

Maine: Maria’s

Established in 1960, Maria's is still a family-run business catering to Mainers who want an authentic Italian meal. Maine Today raves about the "creamy marinaras," although the reviewer does warn to expect an interior "awash in Neapolitan kitsch." The veal is a popular dinner choice.

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Carmela's Cucina Cambridge
Jess M./Yelp

Maryland: Carmela's Cucina

Maybe the only thing that must be said of Carmela's Cucina is that if you go, you're bound to meet Carmela herself. Though she and partner Charlie Bono relocated to add seats and parking, it's still a cozy space where customers love how they're treated by the proprietors and the taste of their pizza, gnocchi, and veal piccata. The ingredients are fresh and the portions are big. 

La Famiglia Giorgio's in Boston, Massachusetts
Andrew B./Yelp

Massachusetts: La Famiglia Giorgio’s

Tucked alongside scores of other Italian joints in Boston's famed North End, La Famiglia Giorgio's still manages to stand out with its heaping portions of Roman cooking, served family-style. Diners say one way to save is by coming at lunch and getting the generously portioned sampler of five different dishes. Save room for cannoli, they recommend.

Related: 50 of the Best Lunch Specials Across the Country

Giovanni's in Detroit, Michigan
Ron C./Yelp

Michigan: Giovanni’s

Tucked in an industrial area of Detroit, decades-old Giovanni's is worth tracking down if only to see the spot where Frank Sinatra once had a private dinner party. Happily, the food is worth the trek, reviewers say. If you don't fill up on the lasagna and warm, crusty garlic bread, find some room for the cannoli.

Cossetta's Alimentari in St. Paul, Minnesota
Marisa R./Yelp

Minnesota: Cossetta’s Alimentari

St. Paul
Cossetta's has morphed from a tiny Italian market, which opened in 1911, into a destination that includes two restaurants, a pastry shop, and a (much bigger) market. Devotees say the food has stayed true to its old-world roots, though. They recommend the sausage and peppers, plus a heaping portion of gelato.

Related: Unique Farmers Markets Where You Can Still Get Fresh Produce Safely

Mississippi: The Sicilian II
Crystal M./Yelp

Mississippi: The Sicilian II

The Deep South may be known for barbecue, but The Sicilian II proves you can find authentic Italian if you look hard enough — in this case, tucked in an unassuming little strip mall. This family-owned dive churns out delicious pizza, fans say, and the homemade mozzarella sticks are more than worth the stop.

Charlie Gitto's on the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri
Fern R./Yelp

Missouri: Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill

St. Louis
Charlie Gitto's has been serving traditional Italian food in St. Louis since 1981. Elegant enough for a special occasion, the restaurant still serves truly authentic dishes. Don't miss the toasted ravioli, one of the house specialties. Diners also praise the veal dishes, seafood pasta, and cannoli.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Pizza Joints Across America

ScottiBelli's in Kalispell, Montana

Montana: Scottibelli’s

Though it only just opened its doors in 2009, Scottibelli's has quickly become a go-to spot for old-school Italian fare in Big Sky Country under its Naples-born chef. Reviewers recommend the lasagna for traditionalists, but adventurous diners should try the vongole marinate, a sourdough-covered twist on Italian steamed clams.

Orsi's Italian Bakery and Pizzeria in Omaha, Nebraska
Paul R./Yelp

Nebraska: Orsi’s Italian Bakery and Pizzeria

A trip to Orsi's, founded in 1919, is a trip back in time, devotees say, and they wouldn't have it any other way. The thick-crust pizza and garlic bread alone are worth the trip, but don't leave without picking up some meat, cheese, bread, or peppers at the deli.

Related: Beloved Local Eats That Can Be Shopped to Your Doorstep

Battista's Hole in the Wall in Las Vegas, Nevada
Tina R./Yelp

Nevada: Battista’s Hole in the Wall

Las Vegas
With its red leather booths, memorabilia-covered walls, and a strolling accordion player, Battista's has old Italian atmosphere in spades. Along with a main entrée, all dinners include soup or salad, garlic bread, a side of pasta, and cappuccino. Diners certainly appreciate the large carafes of free house wine, too.

Related: Bucket List Restaurants in Las Vegas

New Hampshire: Trattoria Amalfi
Reed C./Yelp

New Hampshire: Trattoria Amalfi

It's easy to zip right past Trattoria Amalfi, which is wedged into a strip mall. But that would be a shame, devotees say, because the food is fantastic despite the unassuming setting — some even compare it to Italian restaurants in Boston's North End. The stuffed artichoke and veal dishes come highly recommended.

New Jersey: Spano’s

New Jersey: Spano’s

Point Pleasant Beach
Much-lauded Spano's has pleased a lot of palates since opening in 2000 — it won the reader's choice award for best Italian restaurant in New Jersey from NJ.com, and chef Joe Spano was named "Boss of the Sauce" in 2004 for his marinara. Wine lovers can grab a bottle on the way in, as Spano's is BYOB.

Related: How to Spot a Good, Cheap Bottle of Wine

Joe's Pasta House in Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Marissa H./Yelp

New Mexico: Joe’s Pasta House

Rio Rancho
In a state where Southwestern fare takes center stage, Joe's Pasta House offers an oasis of Italian just north of Albuquerque. Go traditional with a dish like carbonara, ziti alla vodka, or gnocchi, or try the well-reviewed Southwestern fettuccine, which has green chile and crushed red peppers for a local twist.

New York: Mario’s

New York: Mario’s

New York
It's almost impossible to choose just one old-school Italian restaurant in New York, but Bronx favorite Mario's tops the list because it's been serving up crowd-pleasing Neapolitan dishes for a century. Luckily, the place is still unassuming enough for its longtime regulars. Reviewers say the veal dishes are top-notch.

Related: 55 Free or Cheap Things to Do in New York City

Di Lisio's in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Nate H./Yelp

North Carolina: Di Lisio’s

Though it's only a few years old, Di Lisio's Naples-born owner has made this young restaurant a success among diners searching for authentic Italian food in the Triad area. Reviewers say the seafood dishes are delicious, but the lasagna and anything with meat sauce also inspire a lot of praise.

Johnny Carino's
Amy M./Yelp

North Dakota: Johnny Carino's

Fargo and Bismarck
The best old-school Italian in the state comes from a nationwide chain with more than 40 locations? Hear us out. The past couple of years have been brutal to North Dakota restaurants, and no cuisine has seemed harder-hit than Italian, with Toscano closing in Fargo after the death of Mirco Morganti and economic reasons doing in another Fargo mainstay, Santa Lucia, as well as Cugini in Williston and Giuseppe's in Grand Forks. Johnny Carino's has comfortable decor and classic foods, and customers are generally happy with the food and service. Some even rave about dishes such as the fettuccine Alfredo and veal Parmesan. Know of better old-school Italian in your town? Let us know in the comments.

Related: Where to Find Good, Cheap Pasta in Every State

Guarino's in Cleveland, Ohio
Willainia S./Yelp

Ohio: Guarino’s

There's no doubting Guarino's longevity: It's Cleveland's oldest restaurant, founded in 1918 as a speakeasy. The traditional fare and old-school marinara remain unchanged, as does the wood-paneled interior. Reviewers recommend trying to nab a seat on the lovely patio in nice weather.

Oklahoma: Villa Ravenna
TC A./Yelp

Oklahoma: Villa Ravenna

Opened by immigrants from northern Italy, Villa Ravenna has the ambiance of a special-occasion restaurant and the classic comfort food of a red-sauce Italian joint. Enthusiastic diners say the pear gorgonzola appetizer is the one to beat; they also recommend the osso buco for a main dish.

Related: The Most Beautiful Restaurant in Every State

Piazza Italia in Portland, Oregon
Christina L./Yelp

Oregon: Piazza Italia

Piazza Italia is waiting with open arms for those who tire of Portland's contemporary farm-to-table restaurants. A prime spot to catch a soccer game on TV, the family-run restaurant is a great place to dig into pappardelle al cinghiale — that's pasta with wild boar meat sauce — or tiramisu.

Pennsylvania: Ralph’s

Pennsylvania: Ralph’s

Competition is stiff among Philadelphia's old Italian joints, but venerable Ralph's in South Philly may still be the one to beat: It opened in 1900 and has counted Frank Sinatra, Taylor Swift, and Joe Biden as customers. Reviewers' favorites include the mussels, veal parm, and cannoli cake for dessert.

Related: Legendary Restaurant Rivalries That Divide America

Rhode Island: Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen
Joe T./Yelp

Rhode Island: Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen

An old-school neon sign hints that the Old Canteen, founded in 1956, is the real deal in Providence. This high-class throwback has remained largely unchanged since opening, with pink walls and high ceilings. Diners say the menu is huge and full of favorites, including a seven-course option that makes for a hearty, well-priced meal.

Villa Romana in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Elle H./Yelp

South Carolina: Villa Romana

Myrtle Beach
Visitors to one of the nation's biggest tourist hot spots can fill up with some authentic Italian at Villa Romana, which has been serving Myrtle Beach since 1985. Reviewers say it's hard to go wrong with the veal marsala or the cannelloni, and they love the accordion player who is often strolling around to entertain diners.

Related: Best Beaches for a Budget Vacation

South Dakota: Nonna's Kitchen
Sarah W./Yelp

South Dakota: Nonna's Kitchen

Rapid City
Nonna's Kitchen gets raves for everything from its fresh-baked bread (which comes with a goat cheese spread) to its Crazy Green Spaghetti (the green color is from the housemade pesto). The Truffle Carbonara is also a hit, as is the Bolognese. Consider dropping by on a Sunday, when the restaurant serves brunch.

Caffe Nonna in Nashville, Tennessee
Melody F./Yelp

Tennessee: Caffé Nonna

Named for the chef's grandmother, Caffé Nonna has been serving up from-scratch Italian dishes for 19 years. Reviewers give high marks to the house-specialty Seafood Angelina, which includes shrimp, scallops, baby clams and mussels on fettuccine in a white-wine cream sauce.

Related: All-You-Can-Eat Seafood Restaurants Reviewers Love

Saviano's Italian Kitchen in Euless, Texas
Ryan M./Yelp

Texas: Saviano’s Italian Kitchen

Sandwiched between Dallas and Fort Worth, family-owned Saviano's has been dishing out its tried-and-true recipes since 1992. The beloved garlic knots are complimentary with salads and main courses. Just be sure to save room for favorites including chicken Alfredo and penne alla vodka, reviewers say.

Antica Sicilia
Linda H./Yelp

Utah: Antica Sicilia

Salt Lake City
Antica Sicilia is known for its quality Italian food, but also its flaming wheel of cheese, which is imported monthly. Order the carbonara served tableside and, if you get a motivated server, he or she will sing to you while spinning your pasta inside a hole cut inside the enormous cheese wheel, giving every bite a Parmesan punch. 

Related: The Best Spot for Comfort Food in Every State

Sarducci's in Montpelier, Vermont
Michelle J./Yelp

Vermont: Sarducci’s

Busy Sarducci's offers lovely views of the Winooski River while serving home-style Italian fare. Favorites include the crab ravioli with shrimp and the thin-crust pizza. Frequent diners say it's a good idea to make a reservation to avoid a wait. 

Ciro's Italian Eatery
Mel A./Yelp

Virginia: Ciro's Italian Eatery

From the handsome but unpretentious building to generous portions for low prices — plenty of the dinner pastas cost less than $20 — Ciro's has drawn its fair share of superlatives from customers over 30 years of serving. It may help that co-owner Mike Lucci is an immigrant from Naples, but there's no shortage of recommended dishes to try, from the spaghetti carbonara to a supremely cheese-rich lasagna.

Ristorante Machiavelli in Seattle, Washington
Mj V./Yelp

Washington: Ristorante Machiavelli

A staple of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood since 1988, unassuming Ristorante Machiavelli has endured despite being in a city known for its fast-moving food trends. Follow up the inevitable wait with a plate of spinach ravioli, devotees suggest, and save some room for the tiramisu.

Muriale's Italian Kitchen in Fairmont, West Virginia
Diana C./Yelp

West Virginia: Muriale’s Italian Kitchen

Family-owned Muriale's opened in 1969, and its traditional Italian staples remain largely unchanged. Diners praise the attentive service and generous portions that often leave them asking for take-home boxes. For an easy way to taste a range of the restaurant's favorites, try the "Taste of Italy" — lasagna, rigatoni, ravioli, and a meatball for under $20.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Burger Joint in Every State

Wisconsin: Balistreri’s

Wisconsin: Balistreri’s

Balistreri's has two locations a few blocks from one another, but for a truly unpretentious, old-world atmosphere, head to 68th Street, where it all began some 40 years ago. Crispy, thin-crust pizza rules here, but the fried eggplant also earns raves. For more upscale fare, the Bluemound Inn location has an extensive menu of classics.

L'Osteria Mondello in Cheyenne, Wyoming
Lee P./Yelp

Wyoming: L’Osteria Mondello

Many devotees say the pizza at L'Osteria Mondello is the best in town, and you can easily pick up a pie or down a slice in the pizzeria up front. But venture to the back and you'll find a quaint, sit-down restaurant serving Italian standards from pasta and seafood dishes to chicken and veal.

Related: Where to Find Great, Cheap Steak in Every State