13 Italian Restaurants for Vino Superiore

From a modern trattoria to an old-school spot inspired by grandma’s recipes, these Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners offer Italian food and wine at its best
13 Italian Restaurants for Vino Superiore
In Denver, Colo., Barolo Grill's 2,120-selection wine list holds a Grand Award. (Courtesy of Barolo Grill)
Mar 29, 2018

Updated: June 28, 2018

Of the many countries known for the marriage of wine and food, Italy is perhaps the most iconic. From Chianti with a rich, meaty ragu to a Pinot Grigio with the briny freshness of linguine and clams, the cuisine offers endless pairing possibilities. The 13 U.S. restaurants below go beyond the red-sauce classics, with wine selections that showcase styles and regions around the boot.

Check out other great spots for Italian wine and food in our Washington, D.C., Miami and New York City Restaurant Guides. For more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s nearly 3,800 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 100 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!

Melissa Barnes
Acquerello holds the Grand Award for its 1,875 wine selections curated by the owner's son.

A food-and-wine destination operated by an Italy native and his son
1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, Calif.
(415) 567-5432
Open for dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

Grand Award
Wine list selections 1,875
Inventory 15,000
Wine strengths Acquerello’s list is a comprehensive showcase of Italy’s wine regions supplemented by stellar selections from California and Champagne. The program is managed by wine director Gianpaolo Paterlini, the son of co-owner Giancarlo Paterlini, who started working at the restaurant as a busser at age 14.
Cuisine Co-owner and chef Suzette Gresham's prix fixe–only menu is available in three courses for $105, four for $130 or five for $150. There are also seasonal menus, like a recent spotlight on truffles that featured nine dishes including pancetta-wrapped veal with black truffle and a white truffle gelato.
From Bologna to the Bay Originally from the town of Bologna, co-owner Giancarlo Paterlini worked in restaurants around the world before settling in San Francisco and opening Acquerello in 1989 with Gresham.
A place for Piedmont and Tuscany lovers These two regions shine on Acquerello’s wine list, which has 10 pages of Barbaresco bottles and an even more extensive selection of Barolos with more than 60 verticals. The restaurant also takes great pride in its Tuscan wines, particularly the growing selection of Brunellos.
Big choices Nearly 40 Barolos are available in magnum, not to mention large-format bottles from Champagne.

Ai Fiori
Ai Fiori is part of a restaurant group that includes three Best of Award of Excellence winners.

Old World traditions translated to fine dining
Langham Place, 400 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y.
(212) 613-8660
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Grand Award
Wine list selections 1,900
Inventory 10,000
Wine strengths Wine director Alessandro Piliego's program emphasizes Italian and French regions, with standout collections from Piedmont, Tuscany, Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhône. There are also more than 125 Champagnes and impressive selections from California and Washington.
Cuisine Chef de cuisine Scott Schneider creates decadent classics like risotto, butter-poached lobster and handmade pastas. Caviar service and Périgord black truffles are also on the menu.
Wine-loving co-owners Chef Michael White and Ahmass Fakahany founded Altamarea Group, which also includes Best of Award of Excellence winners Vaucluse, Marea and Ristorante Morini.
Extensive Italian verticals Ai Fiori offers several verticals of 10 or more vintages from top producers such as Bartolo Mascarello, Montevertine and Tenuta dell’Ornellaia.

Barolo Grill
Barolo Grill's wine list excels in several regions, especially Piedmont and Tuscany.

Northern Italian cuisine with a wine list that lives up to its name
3030 E. Sixth Ave., Denver, Colo.
(303) 393-1040
Open for dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

Grand Award
Wine list selections 2,120
Inventory 14,125
Wine strengths Owner and wine director Ryan Fletter’s list excels in Piedmont and Tuscany, with additional strengths in Burgundy and Champagne.
Cuisine Chef Darrel Truett’s menu presents the cuisine of Piedmont through dishes like Barolo-style braised duck and ricotta gnocchi made in house.
Wine smarts Barolo Grill closes for a few weeks each year as the entire staff explores food-and-wine destinations across Italy. A page of the wine list is dedicated to their favorite picks from the most recent trip.
Affordable standouts While prized bottles can get pricey, the restaurant offers plenty of quality options at lower price points from producers such as Nozole and Produttori del Barbaresco. There are also more than 30 half-bottles and more than 50 wines available by the glass.

Casa d’Angelo
Chef and owner Angelo Elia created Casa D’Angelo’s menu with recipes passed down for generations.

A South Florida destination for authentic Italian fare
1201 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
(954) 564-1234
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,390
Inventory 15,970
Wine strengths Wine director Koen Kersemans’ selections are strongest in Tuscany, Piedmont, California and France. The moderately priced wine list also represents Italian regions such as Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy and Alto Adige.
Cuisine Chef and owner Angelo Elia fulfills the restaurant’s philosophy of “tutto su gli ingredient”—it’s all about the ingredients—by shipping ingredients directly from Italy to create his seasonal menus.
Award-winning duo Casa d’Angelo’s second location in Boca Raton, Fla., also holds a Best of Award of Excellence for its 480-selection list with strengths in Tuscany, Piedmont and California.
Italian authority An Italy native, Elia learned to cook from his mother, and claims to be the first chef to bring traditional ingredients such as burrata to South Florida.

Julia Vandenoever
Frasca Food & Wine presents a regional Italian focus through wine and cuisine.

A showcase of Friulian food and wine from a top sommelier
1738 Pearl St., Boulder, Colo.
(303) 442-6966
Open for dinner, Monday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 800
Inventory 6,700
Wine strengths Wine director Carlin Karr’s list is strongest in Piedmont, Tuscany, Burgundy and Champagne.
Cuisine Chef Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson uses traditional techniques to create rustic yet elegant plates like duck breast, thigh and tongue served with foie gras and tagliatelle with a bolognese ragu of veal and pork.
Seasoned sommelier Before opening the restaurant in 2004, owner Bobby Stuckey served on the wine teams of Grand Award winners Element 47 and the French Laundry.
Friuli focus Stuckey and Patterson draw inspiration from northeastern Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, where "frasca" neighborhoods in local towns serve as gathering places for food, wine and hospitality.
Flight nights Frasca Food & Wine hosts a variety of wine events including its regular Monday night special, when guests can enjoy a flight of three wines from a featured winemaker for $50.

F. Mosca
La Foresta Restaurant & Wine Bar offers 1,205 wine selections.

High-quality Italian cuisine, plus a growing wine list
163 Route 81, Killingworth, Conn.
(860) 663-1155
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,205
Inventory 16,000
Wine strengths Wine directors Marjan Mekaj and Frank Mosca's list is strongest in Tuscany, Piedmont, California, France and Spain.
Cuisine Chef Albano Mashi strives to use local ingredients and herbs grown on site as much as possible in his Northern Italian–influenced menu.
Humble heritage The restaurant was an abandoned barn before owner Francesco Lulaj bought it in 2013 and renovated the space into a restaurant reminiscent of a Tuscan farmhouse.
Something for everyone On the moderately priced wine list, bottles range from $28 to over $7,000, with plenty of options under $100. More than 40 wines are available by the glass, all for $20 or less.

Jonny Valiant
Lincoln Ristorante serves elegant Italian dishes in a dramatic space.

Familiar Italian flavors with an upscale spin
142 W. 65th St., New York, N.Y.
(212) 359-6500
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 450
Inventory 4,100
Wine strengths Wine director Irene Miller manages the program, which is strongest in Piedmont and Tuscany.
Cuisine Chef Shea Gallante treats local ingredients with traditional Italian techniques to create hearty plates including spinach pasta with duck bolognese and grilled swordfish.
Dramatic dining Lincoln Ristorante's location in New York City’s Lincoln Center affords diners a view of the adjacent plaza's reflecting pool. The complex's Tisch Illumination Lawn serves as the restaurant's "living roof."
Feature pages Miller’s wine list includes pages with themes such as a vineyard focus or varietal profile. Examples include a vintage highlight of 2004 Barolos and a varietal profile on Nerello Mascalese.

Leo Gozbekian
Lucca North End is one of two Best of Award of Excellence–winning Lucca locations.

Fine food and wine in Boston’s Little Italy
226 Hanover St., Boston, Mass.
(617) 742-9200
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 500
Inventory 4,500
Wine strengths Wine director Jennifer Glover’s program highlights wines from Italy and California. The Back Bay location also holds a Best of Award of Excellence for its 380 selections.
Cuisine Chef Vanessa Leesam showcases Boston ingredients through an Italian lens. She works with local fishers and farmers to create dishes like seared George Bank scallops over acorn squash risotto and pan-roasted Gianonne Farms Statler chicken breast.
Prime cultural location The North End neighborhood is Boston’s Little Italy, which is also home to historical attractions such as the Paul Revere House and the city’s oldest church.
After-hours options In the main dining room, the restaurant’s bar serves the Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list, plus a late-night menu that’s available until 12:15 a.m.

Liz Clayman
Maialino is a modern Italian eatery with a Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine selection.

Ushering Old World Italy into the 21st century
2 Lexington Ave., New York, N.Y.
(212) 777-2410
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,500
Inventory 15,000
Wine strengths In 2017, wine director Jenni Guizio added 300 selections to the wine list, which is strongest in Piedmont and Tuscany, with more than 160 Champagne selections.
Cuisine Chef Jason Pfeifer serves modern plates inspired by Roman trattorias in the airy yet rustic dining room overlooking Manhattan’s Gramercy Park.
A special spot for wine lovers The restaurant recently revamped its sommelier station into a five-seat wine counter where guests can interact with the wine team during service. The counter is also used for various tastings and wine dinners.
In good company Maialino is part of Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes Grand Award winner the Modern, Best of Award of Excellence winners Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern, and Award of Excellence winners Marta and Untitled, all in New York City.

Terpstra Photography
Noto’s Old World Italian Dining shares family traditions with guests, and the staff happily offers tours of the impressive wine cellar.

A family-owned business with a comprehensive wine list and sprawling cellar
6600 28th St. S.E., Grand Rapids, Mich.
(616) 493-6686
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,255
Inventory 10,550
Wine strengths Wine director Chad Calder’s program covers all 20 Italian wine regions, a particularly impressive feat in Michigan, with strengths in Piedmont, Tuscany and Veneto.
Cuisine Chef James Powell executes the Noto family’s long-lived recipes along with his signature creations like pan-roasted salmon in an orange-thyme sauce and grilled pork loin with white balsamic and herbs.
Expansive cellar The restaurant’s impressive inventory is stored in a 7,000-square-foot cellar, which features dining spaces available for parties of six or more who opt for the prix-fixe menu with wine pairings.
Accessible bottles Four pages of the wine list are dedicated to bottles priced under $150, including 50 under $50.

Anne Fishbein
Osteria Mozza offers fresh pasta dishes like ricotta and egg ravioli with browned butter.

A local favorite for pastas and fine wine
6602 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, Calif.
(323) 297-0100
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,550
Inventory 18,000
Wine strengths Overseen by wine director Sarah Clarke, the wine list is nearly all Italian, with the exception of Champagnes and some Slovenian selections. The program’s strongest regions of Piedmont and Tuscany contain verticals of at least eight vintages from producers like Marchesi di Grésy, Cavallotto, Fontodi and Soldera.
Cuisine Chef Nancy Silverton marries homey Italian flavors with expert techniques to create pasta dishes like ricotta and egg ravioli with browned butter and orecchiette with sausage and swiss chard. Entrées range from seared sea trout to a 24-ounce porcini-rubbed rib eye.
Family wines A section of the wine list is dedicated to co-owner Joe Bastianich’s family label, which he started at a Friuli winery with his mother, Lidia Bastianich, in 1997. There are also a few bottles from La Mozza winery in the Maremma, which Joe founded in 2000.
Light bites To enjoy the Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list without committing to a full meal, sit at the cheese bar and dine on plates like burrata with Osetra caviar and smoked mozzarella with prosciutto di Parma. A mozzarella tasting is also available for $26.

Rustico Ristorante
Rustico Ristorante has earned a Restaurant Award every year since 1998.

Top-tier ingredients and wine selections in a historic mining town
114 E. Colorado Ave., Telluride, Colo.
(970) 728-4046
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,535
Inventory 13,250
Wine strengths The wine program is overseen by owner Paolo Canclini, who also serves as chef and general manager. Piedmont and Tuscany are highlights on the exclusively Italian list.
Cuisine Canclini relies on generations-old family recipes to create hearty pasta dishes, pizzas from a wood-burning oven and entrées including veal shank atop fontina polenta—“like my grandma used to make.”
Homemade commitment Rustico Ristorante's sausages, mozzarella, focaccia, grissini, carta musica and more are all made in-house.
Fostering Colorado’s wine-loving community The restaurant participates in a variety of local summer festivals. During the annual Telluride Wine Festival, Rustico Ristorante hosts special wine dinners celebrating small Italian producers.

Jeff Schear
Open since 1927, the Village claims it’s the oldest Italian restaurant in Chicago.

The Village
The first of a historic, family-owned trio
71 W. Monroe St., Chicago, Ill.
(312) 332-7005
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,100
Inventory 25,000
Wine strengths Jared Gelband came onboard as wine director in 2016; since then, he has reorganized and reshaped the list to create a more focused program. While the strongest areas are Tuscany and Piedmont, the wine list offers extensive Italian selections that span the country.
Cuisine Chef Jose Torres serves staples like eggplant parmigiana and fettuccine alfredo, plus dishes like chicken rolled with sausage and prosciutto and salmon puttanesca.
Pioneering concept Florence-born founder Alfredo Capitanini opened the restaurant in 1927 and helped expand Chicago’s Italian dining scene beyond red-sauce classics.
Family ties The Village is now one of three restaurants owned by three generations of the Capitanini family in the same building. Vivere and La Cantina Enoteca also offer Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine lists.

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