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Restaurants & Bars

Where to Find the Best Italian Food in Dallas

From the Tuscan countryside to New York-inspired red sauce joints, we recommend the best of every variety of Italian food available in North Texas.
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Via Triozzi Dallas
The arugula and bresaola salad with cured sliced beef, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and grilled lemon from Via Triozzi. Brittany Conerly

If you want to make some enemies, start talking about Italian food in Dallas. Everybody has a hot take on our Italian food scene: that we have no good Italian food, that we actually have lots of good Italian food, or that there’s only one good Italian place (which is inevitably different from the one good place everybody else suggests).

This list is going to try something different. Instead of ranking our Italian restaurants, I’m going to go by category: Italian-American “red sauce joints,” truly Italian restaurants, and regional menus specific to one cuisine (like Tuscany or Naples). Note that this list does not include pizza; we’ve listed the best pizzas in Dallas here and here, and the most creative pizzas here.

We’d also like to direct your attention to the 2018 Italian issue of the magazine, where we talked to Lucia chef David Uygur about salumi, watched Julian Barsotti make pasta from scratch, made dessert with the Jimmy’s crew, and documented the history of Italian food in Dallas.

Best True Italian

Lucia

Chef David Uygur’s journey’s across the Mediterranean can’t be pigeonholed into a single region of Italy; if he discovers a new pasta shape or charcuterie cut, he’ll probably start selling it. Lucia is now a Dallas legend for its strengths: an ever-changing menu of seasonal dishes, fresh pastas so good you might forget to order a main course, a small but well-selected and absurdly affordable wine list, magical desserts, and some of the friendliest service in the city. Lucia, 287 N. Bishop Ave.

Via Triozzi

The reason that Dallas’ historic reputation for Italian food is so miserable is that a lot of our Italian fare is so darn heavy. Cheesy, sauce-covered, so rich you need a nap afterwards: that’s not really how most of Italy eats. There’s no better illustration of that fact than the food at Via Triozzi, which blends owner Leigh Hutchinson’s Sicilian heritage with her training at a Tuscan cooking school. What do you get when you combine those things? Light, bright, fresh dishes that take great ingredients, dress them simply, and let them shine. Via Triozzi, 1806 Greenville Ave.

Miss Pasta

Notice that this top tier has three of Dallas’ hardest-to-get reservations—and then there’s Miss Pasta, a fast-casual suburban spot where you order at the counter. Giuliano Matarese’s concept is simple. He makes fresh pasta at the front counter, cooks and sauces it when you order, and that’s it. No frills, no waiters, two desserts, three wines. But his takeout-ready cartons of pasta include regional specialties and home comfort foods from a variety of Italian regions, including his native Naples. Miss Pasta, 3613 Shire Blvd., Ste. 100, Richardson

The Charles

The most posh, over-the-top, and indulgent Italian spot in town is still one of the best. The Charles bounces between obscure but authentic regional traditions (focaccia di Recco) and more familiar classics (grilled branzino). There are plenty of extravagances—ask about the rotating pot pie special—but the best one of all is the atmosphere. True to life in Milan or Rome, The Charles makes for spectacular people-watching. The Charles, 1632 Market Center Blvd.

Also noteworthy in this category: MoMo Italian Kitchen, Nonna

Best Neapolitan

Partenope Ristorante

Chef Dino Santonicola is a Naples native best-known for some of the nation’s best Neapolitan pizzas, but the pastas here are an attraction of their own, as is the list of creative, throw-everything-in-there salads. There’s a good selection of affordable Italian wine, too. Partenope Ristorante, 1903 Main St., Dallas, and 110 S. Greenville Ave., Richardson

Best Tuscan

Baonecci Ristorante

Drive up to Frisco for the specialties of chef Stefania Gambaccini, who hails from Lucca. Like Partenope, Baonecci also places on our best pizzas list, but the menu also boasts plenty of pastas and seafood risotto. Baonecci, 7151 Preston Rd., Ste. 451, Frisco

Best Roman

Pizzeria Carina

OK, yes, this is the third restaurant in a row that appears on our best pizzas list. Founder Eugene Plyako draws inspiration from Roman-style crusts to make a style of pie that is super thin but still crispy. He also uses his sourdough to make fluffy puccia bread sandwiches, folds pizza dough in half for a unique sandwich style, and offers Mediterranean snacks like chickpea flour fries. Pizzeria Carina, 6005 Berkshire Ln.

Best Italian-American, Albanian-Italian-American, or Hybrid/Fusion

Barsotti’s

OK, we said we wouldn’t rank Italian joints, but when it comes to old-school red sauce and Sinatra, you can’t top Barsotti’s. The casual anchor of Julian Barsotti’s culinary empire is the place to go for dreamy Sunday gravy, hearty lasagna, and loaded antipasti salads. You can buy some of the sauces to go, too, and a recent renovation has made the dining room even more eye-catching. Barsotti’s, 4208 Oak Lawn Ave.

Carbone

This New York import—the only chain on our list—is the kind of place that redefines dinner theater. All the room’s a stage, and you, your guests, your neighbors, and the waitstaff are the costumed characters. Bring extra cash to splurge on veal chops, meatballs, and one of Dallas’ deepest wine cellars. If you’d rather have the pastas without all the theatrics, though, you might look elsewhere. Carbone, 1617 Hi Line Dr., Ste. 395

Il Bracco

The menu here is a hybrid of true Italian, Italian-American, and things that aren’t Italian at all, but the fresh pastas uphold a high standard and everything in general is fresh, bright, and balanced. Il Bracco, 8416 Preston Center Plaza

Sam’s Pizza & Pasta

This exemplary Albanian-Italian joint in Cedar Hill is a vibrant neighborhood spot that looks like an ideal ’80s hangout, right down to the checkered tablecloths. Sam’s is a good introduction to the soul that Albanian immigrants bring to red-sauce Italian-American cooking; it may not be authentic, but it’ll keep you satisfied. Just about everyone has their own favorite Albanian-run spot; other examples include Tony’s Pizza & Pasta, Eddie’s Napoli, and Besa’s. Wondering why Albanians are such a big part of the Italian food scene? We interviewed them to find out. 601 Cedar St., Cedar Hill

Two Guys from Italy

This spot is a time warp in ways both good and bad. Good: the recipes haven’t changed since the two guys came over from Italy decades ago, and the prices have only changed a little bit. Bad: the booths haven’t been replaced, either, and we’re not sure how often the place gets dusted. I’m not sure that Two Guys counts as “good,” but I visited recently while getting over an illness and, for that please-comfort-me situation, it’s perfect. Two Guys from Italy, 11637 Webb Chapel Rd.

Also noteworthy in this category: Fachini

Best Italian Sandwiches

You can’t go wrong with a fully-loaded Italian sandwich, can you? Jimmy’s Food Store is the most famous and beloved option here, but two newcomers in Dallas’ north and south—Enzo’s and Cenzo’s—are ready to take it on, and my secret favorite Italian sandwich in the city (plug your ears, Jimmy’s fans) is the Super Jeff at Partenope, a spicy-as-heck monster sandwich big enough for two people, with the bread made from the same super-flavorful dough that goes into the restaurant’s pizzas.

Best Coffee and Gelato

Palmieri Cafe is as authentic as an Italian coffee shop gets in Texas, and it also has a gelato counter. But for the perfect cold scoop, you’d best be headed to one of the locations of local chain Botolino, where Carlo Gattini creates some of the best gelato we’ve had anywhere.

If You Can Swing It

We haven’t gotten to visit La Stella or Osteria Il Muro yet, and will try to do so soon, so that we can update this list. I’m including Il Muro because it has a glowing reputation; people drive from Dallas up to Denton for its hard-to-get reservations. (A trusted friend says Il Muro is great for the Denton community, but about on a level with the Dallas options we listed in the first tier of this list.)

As for La Stella, which is one of the city’s most expensive restaurants, it’s conveniently located across from the Winspear Opera House and has seen its reputation rise this year, two reasons to keep it on your radar. We’ll report back soon.

Newcomers

This spring sees the opening of two celebrity-driven spots that look to shake up our rankings. Knife Italian comes from chef John Tesar at the Ritz Carlton Las Colinas and features deluxe ingredients (dry-aged steaks and caviar bruschetta), while Radici will find chef Tiffany Derry cooking in a centerpiece wood-fired grill. We’ll report back on them after they’ve each been open for a few months.

Author

Brian Reinhart

Brian Reinhart

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Brian Reinhart became D Magazine's dining critic in 2022 after six years of writing about restaurants for the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News.
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