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
Naturally, pastas are a primary part of the menu at Quality Italian's Restaurant Award–winning Denver location. (Courtesy of Quality Italian)
Mar 29, 2018

Updated Nov. 19, 2020

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.

This is just a small sampling of more than 500 Restaurant Award winners with Italian cuisine. 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!

Note: Opening hours and menus are subject to change as the industry continues to adjust to evolving regulations.

Ai Fiori

Langham Place, 400 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 613-8660
Website www.aifiorinyc.com
Grand Award

Beverage director Hristo Zisovski decanting at a wine station in Ai Fiori
Altamarea Group beverage director Hristo Zisovski helped build the renowned wine list at Ai Fiori. (Evan Sung)

At this Grand Award winner in the heart of Manhattan, wine director Mariarosa Tartaglione's program emphasizes Italian and French regions, with standout collections from Piedmont, Tuscany, Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhône. Ai Fiori's 2,000-wine list includes more than 100 Champagne options as well as impressive selections from California and Washington. There are several hefty verticals from top producers such as Bartolo Mascarello, Montevertine and Tenuta dell’Ornellaia. 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. Currently open for indoor dining, the restaurant is part of chef Michael White and Ahmass Fakahany's Altamarea Group, which also includes Best of Award of Excellence winnerMarea.

Barolo Grill

3030 E. Sixth Ave., Denver, Colo.
Telephone (303) 393-1040
Website www.barologrilldenver.com
Grand Award

Table set in the wine room of Barolo Grill
Grand Award winner Barolo Grill houses an inventory of more than 14,000 bottles. (Courtesy of Barolo Grill)

Owner Ryan Fletter also serves as wine director at Barolo Grill, where the list of more than 2,100 wines excels in Piedmont and Tuscany, with additional strength in Burgundy. In addition to curbside pickup implemented in response to the pandemic, the restaurant is open for indoor and outdoor dining with a streamlined version of chef Darrel Truett’s Piedmont-inspired menu. The four courses start at $85 per person with options like pecorino cheese soufflé and potato gnocchi with jumbo lump crab. While prized bottles can get pricey, the restaurant offers plenty of quality options at lower price points from producers such as Produttori del Barbaresco. There are also more than 30 half-bottles and more than two dozen wines available by the glass.

Arturo’s Restaurant

6750 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, Fla.
Telephone (561) 997-7373
Website www.arturosrestaurant.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Arturo's Restaurant in Boca Raton, Fla., continues to carry on the legacy (and name) of its founder Arturo Gismondi, whose family still oversees the restaurant in a fittingly Italian-style villa with a terracotta roof. Whether dining in the restaurant’s wine cellar, dining room or private rooms, guests can expect classic Italian choices from Arturo’s menu and wine list, a Best of Award of Excellence winner since 2009. Comprising more than 1,000 labels, the list is overseen by wine director and co-owner Vincent Gismondi. Tuscany, Piedmont, Italy, France and California are best represented. Following a vast list of Champagnes, Proseccos and other sparkling wines, much of Italy is on display in Arturo’s vast list, as are top California wineries like Napa’s Silver Oak to match with chef Mussolini Guerrier’s menu. Diners can pick from several seafood options like yellowfin tuna tartare or smoked salmon with capers, and there’s no shortage of pasta options and heartier choices of beef carpaccio, lamb and filet mignon.

Casa D'Angelo

1201 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Telephone (954) 564-1234
Website www.casa-d-angelo.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Chef and owner Angelo Elia in the wine cellar at Casa D’Angelo
Chef and owner Angelo Elia created Casa D’Angelo’s menu with recipes passed down for generations. (Courtesy of Casa D'Angelo)

At Casa D'Angelo, 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. An Italy native, Elia learned to cook from his mother, and claims to be the first chef to bring traditional items such as burrata to South Florida. Wine director Koen Kersemans’ more than 1,500 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. Casa D'Angelo's outpost in Aventura, Fla., holds an Award of Excellence for its list of nearly 400 wines with strengths in Tuscany and Piedmont. Both are open for indoor and outdoor dining.

Costa di Mare

Wynn Resort, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, Nev.
Telephone (888) 320-7110
Website www..wynnlasvegas.com/dining/fine-dining/costa-di-mare
Best of Award of Excellence

A view of tables in cabanas at Costa di Mare
Costa di Mare’s cabana seating offers an elegant take on socially distant dining. (Barbara Kraft)

Las Vegas might be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean its cuisine has to be. Chef Mark LoRusso’s menu at Costa di Mare is heavily influenced by seaside Italian dishes, as its name promises (“Costa di Mare” means seacoast). Located at the Wynn Resort, LoRusso’s restaurant is a Best of Award of Excellence winner thanks to wine director Brian Weitzman’s 600-plus-label wine list, where the focus is on Italian and French picks. Following extensive by-the-glass and half-bottle lists, there is a diverse range of sparkling wines, mostly from Franciacorta and Champagne. White wines are sourced from top producers from up and down the boot, including Jermann, Gravner and Emidio Pepe. There is a tremendous showing of Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello di Montalcino too, including several verticals from noted wineries like Valdicava. Super Tuscans, Bordeaux bottlings and additional reds from throughout Italy, California, Oregon and Spain bring further diversity and pairings for an extensive menu of Italian classics. Diners can pick from a wide list of pastas, whole fish and seafood small plates like sautéed clams, Ligurian octopus and sea scallops. These dishes can now also be enjoyed outdoors on Costa di Mare’s lagoon-side patio.

Drago Centro

525 S. Flower St., Los Angeles, Calif.
Telephone (213) 228-8998
Website www.dragocentro.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Tagliatelle from Drago Centro
Drago Centro’s Italian menu includes fresh pastas made in-house. (Courtesy of Drago Centro)

Chef Celestino Drago has become one of the best-known names in California’s Italian dining scene from his base at Los Angeles restaurant Drago Centro. Now with famed restaurateur Piero Selvaggio on its team, the restaurant is continuing to explore Italy’s bounty of wine and food, through its menu and its Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list. The latter includes nearly 1,000 labels overseen by wine director Mark Sadr. Italy (especially Piedmont and Tuscany) and California form the bulk of this list, with diverse white-wine picks like Vermentino and Erbaluce, and reds that range from Cabernets and Syrahs to bold Sicilian and Piedmontese bottles. The plethora of wines with substantial tannins are fitting for Drago’s most robust dishes like garganelli with sausages, pappardelle with pheasant ragu and roasted lamb loin. The restaurant is now also serving these dishes outdoors on its new patio.

Frasca Food & Wine

1738 Pearl St., Boulder, Colo.
Telephone (303) 442-6966
Website www.frascafoodandwine.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Co-owner Bobby Stuckey
Co-owner Bobby Stuckey helps oversee the impressive wine list at Frasca Food & Wine. (Jennifer Olson)

Frasca Food & Wine draws inspiration from northeastern Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, where "frasca" neighborhoods in local towns serve as gathering places for food, wine and hospitality. 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. Wine director Carlin Karr built the Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list of 600 selections, which is strongest in Piedmont, Tuscany, Burgundy and Champagne. Before opening the restaurant in 2004, co-owner Bobby Stuckey served on the wine teams of Grand Award winners Element 47 and the French Laundry. The destination is open for indoor dining, though there's also a pickup program to experience Frasca from the comfort and safety of home.

La Foresta Restaurant & Wine Bar

163 Route 81, Killingworth, Conn.
Telephone (860) 663-1155
Website www.laforestarestaurant.com
Best of Award of Excellence

La Foresta was an abandoned barn before owner Francesco Lulaj bought it in 2013 and renovated the space into a restaurant reminiscent of a Tuscan farmhouse. Now it's a Best of Award of Excellence winner with a Northern Italian–influenced menu, open for dining indoors as well as in a tented, heated outdoor space. Chef Ajay Birchall strives to use local ingredients and herbs grown on-site as much as possible, and crafts seasonal specials alongside the core menu. Wine directors Marjan Mekaj and Frank Mosca's program of more than 1,300 labels is strongest in Tuscany, Piedmont, California, France and Spain. There are plenty of options under $100 on the moderately priced wine list, which also has a solid by-the-glass section.

Lucca North End

226 Hanover St., Boston, Mass.
Telephone (617) 742-9200
Website www.luccaboston.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Lucca North End is a Best of Award of Excellence winner located in Boston’s Little Italy, which is also home to historical attractions such as the Paul Revere House and the city’s oldest church. The attractions at Lucca are geared toward wine lovers, with a 500-label list managed by wine director Jennifer Glover that highlights Italy and California. The Back Bay location also holds a Best of Award of Excellence for its slightly smaller list of 380 selections. While local pandemic restrictions have forced Lucca North End to close nightly at 9:30 p.m., its bar has traditionally been a buzzy late-night spot that stays open past midnight.

Osteria Mozza

6602 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, Calif.
Telephone (323) 297-0100
Website www.mozzarestaurantgroup.com
Award Level

Ricotta and egg ravioli with brown butter at Osteria Mozza
Osteria Mozza offers fresh pasta dishes like ricotta and egg ravioli with brown butter. (Anne Fishbein)

A Los Angeles staple open for outdoor dining, Osteria Mozza is backed by renowned chef Nancy Silverton, who recently opened a steak house in the city called the Barish. At Osteria Mozza, Silverton marries homey Italian flavors with expert techniques to create pasta dishes like ricotta and egg ravioli with brown butter and orecchiette with sausage and Swiss chard. Entrées range from seared trout to a 24-ounce porcini-rubbed rib eye. Overseen by wine director Sarah Clarke, the wine program is nearly all Italian, with the exception of Champagnes. There's currently an abbreviated version available of the 1,450-wine list, but it still maintains strengths in Piedmont and Tuscany while representing various other regions around the boot. Also represented are several picks from the eponymous label from Joe Bastianich, who co-owns the restaurant with Silverton.

Quality Italian

241 Columbine St., Denver, Colo.
Telephone (303) 532-8888
Website www.qualityitaliandenver.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Dining room interior at Quality Italian
Quality Italian is a self-explanatory concept with a strong wine program. (Courtesy of Quality Italian)

Steak meets Italian classics at Quality Italian in Denver, a first-time Restaurant Award winner. Like its sibling restaurant in New York City, Denver’s Quality Italian holds a Best of Award of Excellence, recognizing the strengths of wine director Mary Sullivan’s 375-label wine list. Italian and Californian wines are the stars here, with a diverse array of Chardonnays and indigenous Italian whites. There is an extensive list of reds from Piedmont and Tuscany, as well as California Pinot Noirs and cult Cabernets. These are bolstered by a generous offering of large format bottles and older vintages from top wineries like Mouton-Rothschild. Whether in the dining room or on the restaurant’s patio, these hearty wines can be paired with chef Khamla Vongsakoun’s menu, which includes a selection of steaks and pastas, as well as lighter options like grilled branzino, lemon-charred chicken and a beefsteak tomato with stracciatella.

Rustico Ristorante

114 E. Colorado Ave., Telluride, Colo.
Telephone (970) 728-4046
Website www.rusticoristorante.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Open for indoor dining, Rustico Ristorante is a family-run wine destination in a historic mining town. 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, which is made up of more than 1,500 selections and backed by an inventory of more than 13,200 bottles. 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.” The restaurant makes its own sausages, mozzarella, focaccia, grissini, carta musica and more, and typically hosts special wine dinners celebrating small Italian producers.


Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St., Cambridge, Mass.
Telephone (617) 661-5050
Website www.benedettocambridge.com
Award of Excellence

Summer vegetable lasagna at Benedetto
Benedetto’s Italian cuisine includes dishes like this lasagna of summer vegetables. (Courtesy of Benedetto)

Tradition is at the heart of many Italian restaurants throughout the United States. And with Massachusetts’s storied history of fine Italian dining, it’s no surprise to see that trend in Cambridge. Benedetto offers a taste of this notion at the Charles Hotel, alongside an Award of Excellence–winning wine list. Wine director Robert Taylor’s wine list is expectedly focused on Italy’s Piedmont and Tuscany regions, offering 300 labels that explore much of Italy (there are also hefty lists of Champagne and amaro). Highlights include impressive selections of Nebbiolos and top reds from Campania and Sicily. Several regions are also represented in Benedotto’s list of Italian dessert wines, as well as in chef Michael Pagliarini’s menu. In addition to truffles, when in season, Pagliarini offers several Italian-influenced dishes like prosciutto di parma with apple, vegetable minestrone and strozzapreti with Calabrian ragu. Other dishes take advantage of local ingredients, like a Rhode Island tautog with roasted fennel.

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