• Addison Aloian

5 Must-Try Italian Restaurants in NYC

Living in New York City for almost two years now, I’ve made it my personal mission to find the best restaurants for every type of cuisine. But my absolute favorite kind of food? Italian.

Pasta? Pizza? Carbs of any kind?? I’m addicted. And with the city opening up again amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we can finally start eating at restaurants outdoors!

While I’ve tried a ton of incredible Italian restaurants in New York, I’ve compiled a list of the five best ones that everyone HAS to try. Without further ado, five must-try Italian restaurants in New York City (in no particular order):

Lil Frankie’s

You just can’t go wrong with anything you order here. It seems like they have every classic Italian dish you can think of (and then some), from a Wild Fennel Sausage Pizza, to handmade Ravioli, to their original Pizza Burger. Although you have to make a reservation decently far in advance (maybe a week before) in order to get seated, it’s not too pricey for classic NYC Italian fare.

When I ate dinner at Lil Frankie’s last fall, the special of the night was a white sauce truffle pizza…and yes…it tasted as good as it sounds. Another crowd favorite dish is the Spaghetti Limone, which I’ve never actually tried, but I have several friends who would confirm that they would die for it. All in all, this place has it all – tasty food and a wonderful atmosphere – go try Lil Frankie’s!

Gnoccheria by Luzzo’s

If you’re a fan of gnocchi, or any pasta really, Gnoccheria is a must-try. They literally have every gnocchi flavor you could possibly think of – classics like Pomodoro, Ragú Bolognese, and Quatro Formaggi, but they also venture out with Carbonara and Salmon gnocchi flavors. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like heaven to me.

If you’re not a fan of gnocchi, they also offer other pasta dishes such as rigatoni and lasagna, and they have plenty of gluten free options. There are two convenient locations in the East Village and Wall Street, and based on my experience, you could probably get a table a day or two ahead of time in the Village location.

I’ll never forget the white sauce truffle gnocchi (are you sensing a pattern here?) that I devoured last November. This restaurant is such an amazing original concept and it’ll be one of the first places I dine when I’m back in the city.


Pizza Beach

Think you’ve had the best pizza in the world? Think again. Because it’s not in Italy, it’s right in New York City. With casual, beach-like décor, Pizza Beach serves over 12 kinds of pizzas…but they’re not covered in your average toppings.

Their signature Tulum pizza features grilled avocado, cherry tomatoes, Oaxaca cheese, and shishito peppers. The Maui is topped with prosciutto cotto, fresh mozzarella, and grilled pineapple. Their Phucket pizza has rock shrimp, coconut red curry, ginger, and cilantro. But my personal favorite? The Bali: red beets, sweet potato, goat cheese, and sage leaves. ‘Nuff said.

Although I’ve never actually dined in-person, I had the Bali pizza delivered to my dorm pretty much weekly this past semester, and it was like Christmas morning every time.

Think you know pizza? You don’t. Try Pizza Beach.

Sant Ambroeus

Boujee is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this restaurant. I used to walk by the SoHo location every day on my way to class this past year, and seeing upper class New Yorkers enjoying lattes and pasta seated outside under heat lamps, I had never wanted to wine and dine harder.

Sant Ambroeus is a high quality, high class restaurant that is indeed on the pricier side, but you have to try it at least once. I went with my family last fall and we had the most delicious burrata appetizer, warm toasted bread, and decadent pasta dishes. I felt fancy just sitting there before the food came, honestly.

They have three Manhattan locations, and I can say for sure that a reservation is necessary for all of them. From Linguine Cacio E Pepe to Milanese Veal, you don’t want to miss out on this restaurant.

Ciprani Dolci

Lastly is another high-class Italian restaurant with locations all around the world, and five locations just in New York. This past December, I tried Ciprani Dolci, located in Grand Central Terminal, and not to be dramatic, but the lunch was probably one of the loveliest times of my life.

It’s definitely a once-in-a-while treat yoself kind of place.

I enjoyed a wonderful white sauce pasta dish while looking out over the view of Grand Central, seeing hustling people catching their trains and light pouring in through the iconic, large windows. I still can’t decide if the food or the ambiance was better – and the service was excellent too!

It’s perfect for a light lunch, offering sandwiches and salads, or a fancy business dinner, with heavier main courses like Striped Bass and Grilled Rib Eye steak. Regardless, I felt super fancy and happy and my lunch there will forever be one of my favorite restaurant memories.

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© 2020 Addison Aloian