Tucson be may in the heart of some of the hottest desert regions in the world, but it certainly doesn’t wilt when it comes to good Italian food. It is home to a handful of thriving family-owned Italian eateries and restaurants that bring a taste of Italy to Arizona, from the hand-crafted Italian foods made from fresh, local ingredients of North Italia to the classic dishes served in the family-friendly atmosphere of Mama Louisa’s Italian Restaurant. For delicious deli-style fare, fresh meat cuts and cheeses, hot and cold sandwiches, and imported goods head to Tony’s Italian Deli or the trendy Tavolino for a romantic dinner for two. Here are some of Tucson’s top Italian restaurants. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
3.Caffe Torino (in the foothills)
4.Caruso's Italian Restaurant
5.Dominick's Real Italian
6.Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria
8.Gusto Osteria of Tucson
11.Sauce Pizza & Wine
12.Tony's Italian Deli
18.Mama Louisa's Italian Restaurant
21.Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink
22.Rocco's Little Chicago
24.Viro's Real Italian Bakery
25 Best Italian Restaurants in Tucson, Arizona
- Bianchi's Italian, Photo: Bianchi's Italian
- Caffe Milano, Photo: Caffe Milano
- Caffe Torino (in the foothills), Photo: Caffe Torino
- Caruso's Italian Restaurant, Photo: Courtesy of bondarillia - Fotolia.com
- Dominick's Real Italian, Photo: Dominick's Real Italian
- Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria, Photo: Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria
- Guiseppe's, Photo: Guiseppe's
- Gusto Osteria of Tucson, Photo: Gusto Osteria of Tucson
- North Italia, Photo: Courtesy of denio109 - Fotolia.com
- Primo, Photo: Primo
- Sauce Pizza & Wine, Photo: Courtesy of Syda Productions - Fotolia.com
- Tony's Italian Deli, Photo: Tony's Italian Deli
- Trattoria Pina, Photo: Trattoria Pina
- Vero Amore, Photo: Vero Amore
- Vivace, Photo: Vivace
- Bazil's, Photo: Courtesy of bit24 - Fotolia.com
- Chariot Pizza, Photo: Courtesy of fotek - Fotolia.com
- Mama Louisa's Italian Restaurant, Photo: Mama Louisa's Italian Restaurant
- Michelangelo Ristorante, Photo: Michelangelo Ristorante
- Piazza Gavi, Photo: Piazza Gavi
- Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink, Photo: Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink
- Rocco's Little Chicago, Photo: Rocco's Little Chicago
- Tavolino, Photo: Tavolino
- Viro's Real Italian Bakery, Photo: Viro's Real Italian Bakery
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of karepa - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Tohono Chul Park
Tohono Chul Park is a botanical garden and nature reserve in Casas Adobes in Tucson, Arizona. Translated as ‘desert corner’ from the indigenous southern Arizonan language of Tohono O’odham, Tohono Chul Park was established to enrich visitors lives by connecting them with the wonders of the art, culture, and nature of the Sonoran Desert region.
Set on a 49-acre property with breathtaking vistas of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Tohono Chul Park, AZ, features a natural desert habitat with existing migratory tracks that attract an array of fauna and flora endemic to the Sonoran Desert region. The Tohono Chul Park is a permanent home to 38 local species and 57 migrant species of birds, and a variety of reptiles and mammals.
Tohono Chul Park features several thematic botanical collections that contain a plethora of species native to the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts, including more than 300 types of cacti and succulents, 150 variations of shrubs and trees; and more than 50 species of wildflowers. Tohono Chul Park is also home to the largest private collection of native Night-blooming Cereus and hosts a ‘Bloom Night’ every summer where the number of cereus flowers that will open are predicted.
Tohono Chul Park features a variety of distinct botanical gardens and exhibits that showcase the fauna and flora native to the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts.
The Hummingbird Garden features an array of hummingbird-friendly plants such as desert honeysuckle, desert willow, and salvia, which attract a variety of hummingbird species, both local and migratory. The Penstemon Garden is also a favorite of this little bird and is home to 275 species of native and foreign penstemons, sometimes called beardtongue.
The Desert Palm Oasis is the newest garden in the Park and features a unique biome with several species of native plants that are usually found in the narrow canyons along the coast of the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. The Desert Palm Oasis also has an open walking garden with Nacapule jasmine, sea grape and rock fig and a spring-fed stream with a population of endangered native fish.
The Alice Y. Holsclaw Performance Garden is tucked under a grove of mature acacia trees and offers an ideal venue for outdoor concerts, lectures and other special events, such as weddings. Designed primarily for children, the Bank of America Children’s Garden provides a variety of nature-based educational experiences for children to enjoy through discovery and exploration. Features of the garden include a painted and tiled stream, xylophone wind chimes and a rattlesnake wall.
The Demonstration Garden presents a variety of innovative ideas for creating a desert oasis in home gardens using native plants and natural materials. Features of this beautiful and functional garden include a re-circulating stream with endangered species of native fish, a hidden grotto, a geology wall and a Desert Tortoise habitat that is home to two desert tortoises and several desert spiny and whiptails lizards.
Tohono Chul’s Riparian Habitat is a fascinating re-creation of one of the once abundant perennial streams that flowed through the Sycamore Canyon in southern Arizona and features a diverse array of fauna and flora that reside on the banks of rivers and streams.
The Sin Agua Garden (‘garden without water’) is a desert landscape that thrives on harvested rainwater. Demonstrations in the garden include water harvesting, controlling and using of run-off water, and testing the adaptability of native plants in the extremely challenging conditions of alternating drought and flooding. The Sin Agua Garden features a variety of native shrubs, ephemerals, and small trees.
Located in the heart of the Park with beautiful views, the Sonoran Seasons Garden showcases the seasonal variations of the Arizona Upland, namely spring, dry summer, monsoon summer, fall, and winter in five sub-gardens. These sub-gardens highlight how the native plants of the region seasonally adapt to the changing seasons and include plantings of desert willow, ironwood, and ocotillo.
The Ethnobotanical Garden features a variety of indigenous plants that were cultivated the native peoples of the Southwest for food, medicine and other necessities, such as basket making and cultural ceremonies. The summer garden also features new crops that were introduced by Spanish and other Europeans settlers who flood-farmed the area.
The Cargill and Bradley Families Desert Living Courtyard is divided into 10 distinct garden vignettes that promote Xeriscape and offers great ideas for homeowners using native and arid-adapted plants in a variety of backyard landscapes. Each garden features a different landscape theme and design, along with creative water conservation ideas. The garden scenes include a Barrio Garden Layout, a Moorish Garden Layout, a Container Garden Layout, a Xeriscape Garden Layout, and a Wildlife Garden Layout. Other scenarios featured are a Dry Shade Garden Layout, Desert Pupfish, a Winter/Summer Garden Layout, a Meditation Garden Layout, an Outdoor Living Garden Layout, and a Utility Garden Layout.
Tohono Chul’s Geology Wall exhibit is a 55-foot long, semi-circular wall that contains hundreds of rock specimens that represent over two dozen geologic formations that make up the magnificent Santa Catalina Mountains in the background. Built by geologists Doug Shakel and Toby Wright, the wall takes visitors on a journey through two billion years of the Earth’s history as they walk along the wall, which showcases rock specimens and fossils dating back to the dawn of time.
Tohono Chul Park also features a variety of evolving indoor arts and cultural exhibitions designed for artists and visitors of all ages. Presentations vary from traditional and contemporary art to environmental concerns affecting the region and can last from a few weeks to several months. The Park’s three exhibit spaces also showcase a permanent collection of Native American artwork, including paintings, sculptures, fiber arts, and basketry.
Tohono Chul Park is located at 7366 N Paseo Del Norte in Tucson and is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm year-round. Tohono Chul Park offers daily docent-guided tours of the grounds, scheduled lectures, classes and workshops and travel opportunities to visitors at the Desert Discovery Education Center. The Park also has a Garden Bistro, gift shop, and Greenhouse.
7366 N Paseo Del Norte, Tucson, AZ 85704, Phone: 520-742-6455
Attraction Spotlight: Tucson Botanical Gardens
Located in Tucson, Arizona, Tucson Botanical Gardens is a 5.5-acre botanical garden complex that serves as an urban garden oasis and nature education facility. The current Tucson Botanical Gardens complex represents the convergence of two notable horticultural resources. In 1964, horticulturalist Harrison G. Yocum opened his personal collections of palm, cacti, and other plant specimens to the public on the grounds of his North Jefferson Street home.
Throughout the 1960s, Yocum's garden collection grew into a nonprofit organization with more than 100 charter members, prompting a move to Randolph Park's greenhouse facility.
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With the success of the Randolph Park location, a larger location became necessary, and in 1974, the organization acquired the historic Porter Family property. Originally the personal residence of local landscapers and philanthropists Rutger and Bernice Porter, the house was the home of Desert Gardens Nursery until 1958. After her husband's death, Bernice Porter donated the facility to the City of Tucson for use as a public garden, and in 1974, the property was designated for use as a horticultural center. The merger of the Porter house with Tucson Botanical Gardens kept the original building and grounds, preserving the legacy of the Porter family and incorporating elements of their history into its gardens and exhibits.
Permanent Exhibits and Attractions
The complex comprises 17 individual themed gardens, along with a cafe, gift shop, educational center, and outdoor pavilion.
The Porter house building has been renovated into a library and administrative office facility, retaining much of the original look and feel of its use as a family home. Several areas of the complex also incorporate the original layout of the Porter house's grounds, including the Reception Garden, which converted the Porters' sun porch space into an event area with a raised stage, and Edna's Shed, named for a family friend. The herb garden is also a continuation of the Porters' original herb garden, cultivating a variety of fragrant, culinary, and medicinal specimens.
Plant life native to the southwestern United States is showcased in the wildflower garden, which features seasonal blooms of Mexican gold poppy, desert marigold, chocolate flower, and Penstemon, while the cactus and succulent garden displays cacti both native to the area and grown around the world. A number of gardens also focus on historical and cultural gardening styles of the area, including several gardens honoring Tucson's diverse populations. A Native American crops garden and the adjoining Plants of the Tohono O'odham Path pay homage to the crops and wildlife cultivated by the Sonoran Desert's indigenous people, and the Nuestro Jardin contains plants commonly displayed in Mexican-American barrio gardens. Additionally, a historical garden chronicles tree and shrub varieties popular in local gardening styles of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
A butterfly greenhouse is home to the seasonal Butterfly Magic exhibit, along with a large collection of tropical plants. Butterflies and birds also populate the butterfly garden, the Aloe Alley pathway, and the Backyard Bird Garden, which educates on ways to attract birds to personal gardens. Other gardens include a shade garden, which features native plants that thrive in shady areas, a quiet reflective Zen garden, a children's discovery garden, and an iris garden, which blooms with a wide variety of colorful bearded iris in spring.
Visitors can also dine on site at the Café Botanica, which features homemade cuisine by local caterer Kristine Jensen, owner of the Gallery of Food. The cafe serves dishes inspired by culinary traditions of the Sonoran Desert area, utilizing sustainable ingredients from a variety of local vendors.
Ongoing Programs and Education
As a natural educational resource for the Tucson area, the Tucson Botanical Gardens are committed to providing programming that emphasizes the aesthetic, scientific, and cultural aspects of horticulture. The facility's Horticultural Therapy program is one of the country's longest-running garden-based programs, started in 1983 as an outreach program to bring hands-on gardening activities to area nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and special needs educational programs. The program is run by graduates of the gardens' docent training program, which offers interested area residents the opportunity to lead guided tours and assist with facility programming. A number of community classes are also presented by docents and educators, including a 6-week DIY Desert Design course, which assists participants in creating successful gardens in the region's arid climate.
Since 2015, the facility has hosted an increasing number of nationally recognized touring exhibits, including the New York Botanical Gardens' acclaimed Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life exhibit. Other popular events include the Summer Oasis series, which presents weekly themed afterhours events from June through September, and the Dog Days of Summer, which allows visitors to bring pets into the park for an additional fee.
2150 N Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712, Phone: 520-326-9686
Hotel Spotlight: Omni Tucson National Resort
Surrounded by the dramatic natural beauty of the Arizona desert and Santa Catalina Mountains, Omni Tucson National Resort in Tucson, AZ, is a sprawling world-class golf resort located just 15 miles from downtown Tucson. Inspired by the sweeping views of the Santa Catalinas and the rich history of golf, the 650-acre desert resort award-winning desert resort features luxurious accommodations and a wealth of outstanding facilities and amenities to ensure an unforgettable stay.
First-class facilities include championship golf courses, a world-class spa, sauna and fitness center, two sparkling swimming pools, and lighted tennis courts while an array of entertainment venues range from elegant outdoor dining terraces and a poolside cabana bar to private function spaces and beautifully manicured gardens.
The Omni Tucson National Resort is home to two designer golf courses which have hosted several prestigious PGA Tour events and seen golf legends such as Palmer, Nicklaus and Trevino battle the fairways for glory. The Tom Lehman-designed Sonoran Course promises a truly dynamic golf experience for golfers of all levels.
Omni Tucson National Resort features 128 well-appointed guest rooms, suites, and haciendas, decorated in warm tones to reflect the desert surroundings and furnished with contemporary décor. Guest rooms and suites vary in size and style, however, feature standard amenities throughout, including custom furnishings and artwork, comfortable beds with triple sheeting and feather or foam pillows, walk-in closets and separate vanity areas and balconies or patios.
En-suite bathrooms feature showers and/or baths, plush terry robes and deluxe bath products, and added room extra include hair dryers, makeup mirrors, iron and ironing boards and coffee makers with complimentary tea and coffee. In-room technology features flat screen HD televisions with on-demand movies (Mountain Vistas Rooms only), CD players or MP3 clock radios, speaker telephone with voicemail services and high-speed wireless Internet access. All guest rooms, suites, and haciendas boast beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, desert, and pristine golf courses.
Classic Traditional Rooms are decorated in warm, desert hues of beige, ochre, and browns, and feature one king, two queen or two double beds and en-suite bathrooms with showers and/or baths, plush terry robes and deluxe bath products. Wooden furnishings are stylish and comfortable, and private patios offer beautiful views over the golf course, swimming pool, and mountains in the distance. Classic Traditional Rooms range from 350 – 950 square feet in size and offer modern amenities such as flat screen HD televisions, CD players or MP3 clock radios, coffee makers with complimentary tea and coffee, speaker telephone with voicemail services and high-speed wireless Internet access.
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Premier Mountain Vista Rooms and Lofts are spacious and bright, decorated in desert hues of beige and avocado and rich chocolate-brown leather furnishings and offering stunning views. These rooms feature one king or two queen-size beds and private en-suite bathrooms with showers and/or baths, plush terry robes and deluxe bath products. Premier Mountain Vista Rooms and Lofts are 675 square feet in size and are situated within walking distance of the golf club, spa, restaurants and entertainment venues. Modern amenities include flat-screen HD televisions, CD players or MP3 clock radios, coffee makers with complimentary tea and coffee, speaker telephone with voicemail services and high-speed wireless Internet access.
Casitas are 750 square foot residential-style rooms that exude comfort and style. Conveniently located near the tennis courts and swimming pool, Casitas feature elegantly decorated bedrooms with one king bed or two queen-size beds, a sunny sitting area with pull-out sleeper sofa for extra guests, a cozy gas fireplace, and separate dining area. The master bedroom has a private en-suite bathroom with shower, and/or bath, plush terry robes and deluxe bath products and modern amenities include flat screen HD televisions, CD players or MP3 clock radios, coffee makers with complimentary tea and coffee, speaker telephone with voicemail services and high-speed wireless Internet access.
Haciendas are southwestern-style accommodations spread over 950 square feet and ideal for families or groups of friends. Haciendas feature a private master bedroom with one king-size, two queen or two double beds and a spacious en-suite bathroom with shower and/or bath, plush terry robes and deluxe bath products. The expansive living area has a pull-out sleeper sofa and cozy gas fireplace, and a fully-equipped kitchen includes a microwave, stove, and refrigerator for easy holiday living.
Guests at Omni Tucson National Resort have several excellent dining options from casual drinks and snacks at the poolside Cabana Bar to award-winning cuisine, fine wines and a stylish, laid-back ambiance at Bob's Steak & Chop House.
Bob’s Steak & Chop House has been synonymous with excellent steaks throughout Texas for more than 20 years. The award-winning, nationally renowned steakhouse specializes in the finest corn-fed, Midwestern prime beef and serves a simple formula of excellent meat, fresh seafood, crisp handmade salads and decadent desserts.
Begin the day with a hearty breakfast from the Fiesta Café as you soak up the beautiful desert sunrise. Combining traditional Southwestern recipes with regional flavors and local flair, the Fiesta Café specializes in ‘The Art of Breakfast’, which is served in the cozy café dining room or on the sunny outdoor terrace.
Legends Bar and Grill is located on the 19th hole of the golf course and presents the perfect spot to unwind after a round or to enjoy a few drinks with friends. The sports bar serves an excellent selection of spirits, single malt scotches, and cigars, along with casual club fare. There are flat screen televisions to catch the latest game and a shuffleboard and billiards table for laid-back entertainment.
Located next to the stunning infinity edge swimming pool, the Sweetwater Cabana Bar serves a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholics, handcrafted cocktails, signature spirits, and craft beers, as well as light bar-style fare. The Bar overlooks the swimming pool and the mountains in the distance, and guests can relax on the pool deck or in private cabanas, which features flat screen televisions, lounge chairs, overhead fans, and privacy curtains.
Omni Tucson National Resort offers a wealth of on-site activities and facilities for guests to enjoy, from an exclusive day spa and state-of-the-art fitness center to four lighted tennis courts, sand volleyball courts and two championship golf courses.
The incredible desert landscapes offer outstanding bird-watching and wildlife discovery during the day and stargazing in the evenings while the diverse terrain provides the perfect place for fantastic hiking and world-class mountain biking. Hot air ballooning, horseback riding, group cattle drives, desert jeep rides and gold-panning mountain excursions off-site can be arranged by the concierge.
Omni Tucson National Resort’s exclusive 13,000-square-foot spa features luxurious treatment rooms, separate men's and women's relaxation rooms each featuring a sauna and steam room, whirlpool and cold plunge pool, an outdoor swimming pool and relaxation lounge.
Spa services include an array of body treatments and massages, face and skin care, and salon services such as manicures, pedicures, hairstyling, makeup application and waxing. Spa guests are treated to bespoke terry robes, spa slippers, and personalized towels. The spa offers seasonal and special occasion packages, including monthly specials, wedding, and honeymoon packages.
Omni Tucson National Resort provides a variety of elegant and modern meeting and event venues, alongside luxurious accommodations, outstanding facilities, award-winning cuisine and personalized service. Whether for a business meeting, large conference, team-building event, wedding or reception, the resort has the perfect venue for the occasion.
Meeting spaces are embraced by spectacular views of the verdant golf courses and surrounding mountains and many have outdoor terraces for pre- and post-event drinks or receptions. Eight meeting rooms are spread over 10,500 square meters of space, with the largest room catering for 290 standing guests are 230 seated guests, and feature amenities including state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment, on-site technicians, and wireless high-speed Internet.
Surrounded by lush lawns and tranquil gardens, the Resort offers a beautiful setting for a desert wedding with stunning views of the Catalina Mountains. Designed for all types of weddings and receptions, from grand to intimate affairs, flexible ballrooms are elegantly decorated with a Southwestern touch.
Centrally located and featuring large windows overlooking the Catalina Mountains, the Papago Ballroom is adorned with distinctive regional art and opens up onto a large outdoor terrace. Covering 2,870 square feet, the Papago Ballroom caters for 240 standing guests and 190 guests in a banquet style.
The Ironwood Ballroom is 2,652 square feet in size and features large windows and an outdoor terrace overlooking the 19th hole of the golf course and the Catalina Mountains. The Ironwood Ballroom caters for 220 standing guests and 180 in a banquet-style.
Located close to the reception area, the intimate Navajo room features a large stone fireplace and caters for 80 seated guests and 110 standing guests.
Designed to create an unforgettable Arizona adventure for younger guests, the Omni Sensational Kids program offers a variety of activities, adventures, and games to keep the little ones busy.
The program includes a child-size backpack with family-friendly health and nutrition-themed games and goodies to promote healthy eating while vacationing. Goodies include an activity book with healthy snack recipes and fun games, memory match-up cards, crayons, a twisty tomato straw, a kid’s cup with complimentary beverages at all property restaurants and the added treat of milk and cookies delivered on the first night.
2727 West Club Drive, Tucson, Arizona 85742, Phone: 520-297-2271
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