Updated March 2021
Dallas might not be thought of as a destination city for Italian food - tacos and BBQ take the cake on that one - but that doesn’t mean you can’t find outstanding pasta dishes and traditional Italian cuisine here in Dallas! Next time you are craving some burrata or truffle risotto or tiramisu, try one from our list of the best Italian in Dallas! And don't forget to pair your dish with a refreshing Aperol Spritz, a classic Italian cocktail!
Looking for the best place to sip an Aperol Spritz? We also have an article for that!
The Charles took Dallas by storm when it opened in 2018, becoming one of the harder places to land a reservation. Fast forward and that still stands true as it developed a loyal following of see-to-be-seen pasta lovers. And their pasta truly is a standout. When we went for the first time, we weren’t blown away by the atmosphere - it was overly crowded and the decor had way too much going on, but one bite of pasta, and we were sold! Luckily, The Charles just opened a hidden cocktail lounge, Bar Charles, to visit while you wait for your table, or if you want drinks in a swanky setting, so the crowded feeling has been alleviated.
Beyond pasta, try the charred octopus, pork blade chop, and affogato float!
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An Italian restaurant meets market, Carbone’s strives to home-make as many ingredients as possible in the restaurant, and that includes their pasta of course! They also make sausage, cheeses and salamis in house too - order them in your dishes as you dine in at the white-table cloth dining room, or purchase to cook at home in the delicatessen section. Carbone’s is an ode to old-school red-sauce Italian cooking - think spaghetti and meatballs, raviolis, linguine and shrimp, and tiramisu. While it might sound basic, it’s anything but.
OAK LAWN | DIRECTIONS
Before we knew Lucia for its unbelievable and creative pasta dishes, we knew it as the hardest reservation to land. You had to call, and a recording told you specific dates and times available to book, two months in a week. They now book on Resy (thank you) but we learned the insider secret: you can walk up to their four seats at the counter, or the tables on the patio. The food is truly out of this world, and beyond the pasta, we’ve had some of the best fish dishes there. Your meal begins with warm olives and bread too, and the interior feels like you stepped into a home in a village in Tuscany.
Need more convincing? Chef/Owner of Lucia, David Uygur, was a James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef in the Southwest for five consecutive years!
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The name “Sprezza” comes from the Italian word “sprezzatura,” which means doing something extremely well without showing effort, the exact mission of this Oak Lawn restaurant! Only open for dinner, Sprezza is a modern Italian restaurant you can always count on for an amazing meal. It’s known for its Cacio e Pepe pasta, but the menu changes daily! We also love that it is set in an actual house with a bright and airy ambiance, making us feel like we just popped by our neighbor’s for a nice dinner. And be sure to pair your dinner with a beautiful Aperol Spritz garnished with a dried orange.
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Since 2006, Nonna has been serving authentically-made regional Italian food, and considered one of the best purveyors of pasta in Dallas. And it was Nonna that actually brought us Carbone’s - they come from the same owner. So it is no surprised that Nonna uses local meat and produce as much as possible, too, which also means their menu changes seasonally. So you can always count on something new when you visit.
What we love most about Nonna? It’s probably one of the most hidden of Italian restaurant gems on this list. It’s loved by those who know it, and looks like an empty space in a random retail strip across from the Whole Foods off Lemmon from those who don’t.
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photo courtesy of Nonna
Looking for upscale Italian? Look no further than Fachini! One of the fanciest and most beautiful restaurants on the list, come here for anniversaries, birthdays or other special occasions…maybe even a proposal. Just snag one of the tables on the patio overlooking Highland Park Village as the sun is setting. Their menu is traditional, with calamari, toasted lobster ravioli, creamed escarole, and their infamous 100 layer lasagna. Seriously, it’s 100 layers and served like a piece of cake
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mio nonno trattoria
Like Mille Lire, Mio Nonno is another amazing Italian restaurant that flies under the radar. From a family originally from Albania who grew up surrounded by the Mediterranean foods and culture, brought that love of Italian food first to Allen back in 2014. Flower Mound came next, and then their chicest outpost in Victory Park at the base of the Ascent Victory Park. It’s a beautifully decorated restaurant so sets up for a very romantic evening, and with a list of 13 pastas, you can’t go wrong! We had a special last time we went - a rage with pancetta (photoed above) but their cacio e crema with gorgonzola is a creative standout!
Fun fact: last year, actress Renée Zellweger was a guest at the Flower Mound location! Celebrity stamp of approval!
A classic white table cloth Italian restaurant, Terilli’s is a Greenville Avenue institution with a sort of throwback Art Deco vibe, and stunning rooftop! Tuesday through Sunday, a pianist will serenade you while you share a bottle of wine among friends, family or with a date! Or go on Monday for an all day happy hour, or on Tuesdays, they offer half priced wine!
As for the food, find a pretty coastal-heavy menu with crab claws in a garlic white wine butter, angel hair pasta with shrimp, or capelli with lump crab and shrimp. People also swear by the itali-nachos and espresso martinis!
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Gallo Nero sits right in the heart of Greenville Ave across from Laurel Tavern, with a patio sitting on the sidewalk. This Italian Bistro is sort of the opposite for us compared to Dolce…while the atmosphere doesn’t really blow us away once inside, the food is excellent! That isn’t surprising though given their “Nothing fancy, just great Italian food” slogan!
You’ll find HUGE portions of classic Italian dishes, with a never-ending menu of pastas, pizzas, apps, seafood, veal entrees, chicken entrees, calzones, subs and dessert. They even have their own crepe bar in-house if you’re craving a Nutella crepe post-dinner! Of all the places on the list, we would say Gallo Nero offers more options that aren’t pasta, so if you are craving an Italian entree, come here! And because Wednesdays, bottles of wine are half off!
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Last but not least, the BYOB locals-only institution in East Dallas, Urbano Cafe. This tiny and cozy American/Italian bistro has a very loyal following, and reservations are a must, even though it might be one Italian restaurant on this list you hadn’t yet heard of. It was opened in 2009, and at the time, was named the Best New Restaurant by D Magazine. The BYOB part drew in serious wine collectors who could pair their bottles with Urbano dishes! If you aren’t a wine collector or didn’t bring a bottle from home, don’t worry, you can pop next door and buy one at Jimmy’s Food Store!
As for the menu, think simple. There aren’t many dishes to choose from, and consist of a few pastas, salads or meat-based entrees!
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Somewhat of an Uptown hidden gem, Avanti is a go-to for a week night date night or just when you're craving some pasta with a casual atmosphere. The atmosphere is super laid back, as if you're actually in Italy, and the patio is quaint and romantic offering the perfect vibes for an Italian meal paired with an Aperol Spritz. It's been open for 30+ years and sits right on McKinney Avenue, yet we still find people who haven't visited making it super underrated! Try the Avanti garlic loaf to start, and the fettuccini, Bolognese, or drool-worthy lamb chops. Dine in on Wednesdays for a special 3-course date night menu complete with wine!
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A more recent opening for our downtowners, Partenope is the cutest spot for traditional Neapolitan fare and an intimate atmosphere. One of the co-founders is from Naples and it definitely shines through on the menu. You can enjoy all sorts of recipes and dishes from the coast of Italy. We tried the meatballs, margherita pizza, sweet potato gnocchi, the fettuccini bolognese, and the montanella (a Nutella dessert pizza!). And of course no Italian meal is complete without an Aperol Spritz!
P.S. on Mondays, you can score $10 cacio e pepe pasta!
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FERRARI'S ITALIAN VILLA
If you're looking for authentic Italian without the fluff, you must visit Ferrari's Italian Villa in Addison! The owner and chef Francesco Secchi hails originally from Sardinia, got his start working for one of the best restaurants in Europe, Inigo Jones in London, back in the 70’s where he regularly served The Beatles! You’ll feel like you went back in time when you step in - that 80’s old school Italian restaurant design with white table cloths, warm dark lighting, stucco walls, and a super romantic patio with lights! Enjoy dishes including tagliatelle bolognese, goat cheese cappelletti, cioppino, crab claws, and outstanding desserts.
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