The Best Italian Restaurants in Boston

Order from these Boston-based spots when you’re seeking Italian perfection.

13 min read

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On what felt like the first actual day of spring — in truth, we were over a month in — I took my family into Boston proper from the suburbs to ride the iconic Swan Boats in the Public Garden. Boston is known for many things (fierce loyalty to hometown baseball, prodigious consonant-dropping, and, reportedly, baked beans), but not everyone knows that it’s a destination all its own when it comes to Italian food. I do know this, though, because I lived within walking distance of the North End, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods — Beantown’s answer to Little Italy — for a handful of years in my early 20s. 

So, on that spring evening that felt like a spring evening, I pulled up to a parking valet on Hanover Street. People were spilling out of restaurants, sharing cannolis, waiting for dinner reservations. I had mine set, at Lucia’s Ristorante, an old-school institution that opened its doors in 1977. Inside: ceiling mural, red sauce, familial congeniality. It’s a place you go when you want scampi-style shrimp on garlicky bread, dinner in an intimate booth, a coda of tiramisu. 

For more about Lucia’s — and the other top picks for Boston’s best Italian restaurants that are available on DoorDash — read on.



Douglass Williams opened the first iteration of MIDA in the South End neighborhood of the city, and the impressive Italian brand has only grown since then. Fortunate diners can now travel to East Boston and Newton to get their MIDA fix. With a focus on soulful Italian food (smoked short rib lasagna, gnocchi cacio e pepe, paccheri bolognese), it’s no wonder why MIDA is consistently ranked among Boston’s best Italian spots.

Lucia's Ristorante

Lucia’s is often full well before 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. The secret of this Hanover Street favorite has been out for a long time — and that’s okay. On a recent night out, I found the silky marsala as tender as ever, the carbonara as rich as it is in Rome.

Mortadella Head

In Somerville’s Davis Square, this casual Italian spot offers pizza and sandwiches to a college crowd. The so-called Mortadella Head is a large sub, filled with a chicken cutlet, mortadella, fried eggplant, roasted red peppers, and tomato vodka sauce. But the customizable pizzas are notable, too. They can be ordered round or roman-style (long and flat) and topped with porchetta or artichoke hearts or Bolognese, to name just a few options. A word of advice: Don’t skip the disco fries (mozz, gravy, and a decadent cheese sauce).



Ken Oringer’s South End enoteca — until recently, chef and restaurateur Jamie Bissonnette was also a partner — serves up unparalleled, snacky delights, like cheeses and charcuterie with an Italian bent, arancini, polpette, and garlic knots, plus a few handmade pastas, and all manner of pizza. Tiramisu and zeppole are practically required as a sweet end to the meal.


Considered a North End staple, Panza offers hefty helpings of Italian classics that are executed flawlessly. Diners can depend on dishes like the baked ziti, linguine carbonara, and chicken parmigiana — but the lobster ravioli, served with scallions, diced tomatoes, and a Dijon cream sauce, remains a perennial favorite. In fact, it’s one of the most sought-after pasta dishes in the North End.


South Boston welcomed Petula’s in 2023, a restaurant dedicated to new wave Italian (think small plates, bespoke pizzas, and a curated vibe). You won’t find a distinctly northern or southern Italian mentality here, and that’s fine. What you will find is yummy pizzas — the honeycrisp apples on the veggie pie are an unexpected win — compelling salads, and an overall delicious ode to the Italian notion of eating well.

Bar Volpe


Chef Karen Akunowicz’s Bar Volpe, a relative newcomer to the Boston dining scene, focuses on the food of southern Italy. Diners will recognize fan favorites, like rigatoni all'Amatriciana and orecchiette with broccoli rabe, but there are surprises, too: fried dough pockets known as panzerotti, for instance, that come stuffed with spinach and artichoke and served with a tomato sugo. Equally thrilling is a luscious plate of casarecce al nero, studded with lobster and made fiery with chile crisp.

Carlo's Cucina Italiana

Now heading into its fifth decade of operation, Carlo’s, in Allston, is a family-friendly joint with equally familial food. The melanzane ripiene (ricotta-stuffed eggplant) arrives beneath plenty of homemade sauce and silky mozzarella, the saltimbocca is bathed in a sage-cream sauce, and the pasta Patrizia features homemade fusilli, veggies, and a white wine sauce. 

Faccia a Faccia

Newbury Street welcomed Ken Oringer’s coastal Italian restaurant in 2022, and it’s still buzzy. In addition to superlative pastas — the indulgent bucatini cacio e pepe comes topped with an irresistible scoop of crème fraîche — the restaurant offers other mainstays, like chicken Milanese (the crunchy artichoke salad is a happy bonus), black garlic hanger steak with fennel crema, and anchovy and pork sausage-stuffed olives. Like the neighborhood, the restaurant is upscale, and that’s not a bad thing.

Bricco Salumeria and Pasta Shop


Hanging salamis and blackboard menus define this stylized North End shop, where, yes, you can purchase meats and pastas — and also dine in, if you want to. The spot is home to some of the best Italian sandos in all of Boston: a pliable meatball sub with provolone and romano; a piquant Italian, made with mortadella, Genoa salami, sopressata, lettuce, tomato, onion, and hots; and an eggplant parm, with perfectly crisp planks of the beloved veggie. Mangia!


At Prezza, also in the North End, chef Anthony Caturano serves up rustic Italian food, and has for over two decades now. The place persists as one of Boston’s top Italian restaurants for good reason. Some of the most singularly impressive dishes include the grilled clams, served with sausage, roast tomato, and oregano; the agrodolce grilled pork chop, a dish where the vinegar peppers are more than bit players; and the creamy and comforting mushroom risotto.

La Familia Giorgio's

Opened as a trattoria in the North End in 1990, La Familia is an ode to the fine art of simplicity — and the restaurant exudes the same sense of casual, familial dining that it did when it opened more than 30 years ago. Large portions, a generous menu, and homemade pastas define this stalwart, where the Bolognese (made with veal, pork, and beef, of course) is always fresh, and the atmosphere is always boisterous. You will still find tablecloths and upscale service, in a nod to the old days.

Tony & Elaine’s


Step into Tony & Elaine’s, and you might as well be stepping back in time and into a Billy Joel song (yes, that Billy Joel song). It has the red-and-white checkered tablecloths and the high-backed banquettes. Paper napkins. Squat little wine glasses that won’t necessarily make your bottle taste any better. But the restaurant — and its food — have charm, and that goes a long way, whether you’re sampling the pasta alla vodka or the spaghetti and meatballs or the mozzarella sticks.


For the past decade, Viale, a restaurant dedicated to Mediterranean coastal cuisine, has offered up elevated food in Cambridge’s Central Square. Here, diners will find oblong-shaped pizzas with a satisfying toothiness; a panoply of rotating vegetable dishes that reflect the season; and, naturally, pastas, like the ever-popular bucatini carbonara, flecked with guanciale and snow-capped with pecorino.

La Morra

Don’t discount Brookline when it comes to excellent Boston-area Italian food. At La Morra, the owners, Josh and Jen Ziskin, focus on northern Italian dishes. The rock shrimp risotto, wood-grilled Cornish hen, and chicken and duck livers with vin santo shine above all else.

Bar Mezzana


Colin and Heather Lynch brought Bar Mezzana to the South End in 2016, and the restaurant remains famous both for its expertly executed pastas and for its whip-fresh crudos. Get the legendary paccheri, yes, which comes lacquered in a lobster cream sauce that is just spicy enough with Calabrian chiles. As a palate cleanser? The pristine hamachi, cured in citrus salt, sliced, and topped with grapefruit segments and pickled fresno chilis.

Aqua Pazza

Translated from Italian, aqua pazza means “crazy water,” and it refers to an iconic dish of poached white fish and the herbaceous broth in which it’s cooked. Poached fish isn’t necessarily why diners flock to this North End haunt, but fresh seafood is. The restaurant is known for classics like vongole and scampi. Should you order the grilled octopus, Positano-style (with eggplant caponata and burrata)? Do you really need to ask?

Bar 'Cino

A Rhode Island import, Bar ’Cino opened in Brookline in 2020, bringing its grilled pizzas with it. The flatbread-style pies are made in the signature style, with grill marks and a host of toppings (roasted chicken, sausage, prosciutto and fig). But ’Cino doesn’t stop at ’za. Thick bruschettas are a delight, as are the restaurant’s curated pasta offerings. It’s practically required to order the shareable plate of potato chips, served with a garlic aioli for dipping.



In South Boston, Capo, now practically an institution (it opened in 2016) delivers a cozy atmosphere and plenty of Italian charm. Wood-fired pizzas come with a chewy crust and a detectable note of char — the Italian sausage version stays even peppier with vodka sauce at its base — and plentiful entrees like the bone-in veal parm take homestyle red sauce Italian to a new (and exciting) level.


Tucked out of the way in Beacon Hill, Grotto’s name betrays its mood. The restaurant serves elevated Italian in a cozy, romantic space that invites extended dinners over extra glasses of wine. It doesn’t hurt that the food is good, too. From the legendary spaghetti and meatballs to the short rib- and gorgonzola-inflected gnocchi, Grotto is a great place to get lost for an evening — or longer.