There are many great things to do in NYC and there's perhaps nothing more quintessentially New York than Italian and Italian-American cuisine. The quality and authenticity of Italian cooking in New York City is some of the best in the United States. Our list includes famous restaurants as well as undiscovered eateries that let you experience the local flavors.

1. Marea, Central Park South

Marea, Central Park South
© Marea, Central Park South

Marea is the recipient of the Best New Restaurant in America Award by the James Beard Foundation. While it is primarily a seafood establishment, Chef Michael White makes some of the best pasta in New York. You’ll find praiseworthy lobster burrata, fusilli with octopus, and bone marrow and steak on the menu.

To get the full experience, you should really dive into some of the seafood dishes, such as the polipo, which is grilled octopus served with smoked potatoes and pickled red onions. It is phenomenal. Lunch and dinner both offer a tasting menu, which is the best way to try as many of the delicious options at Marea as possible.

240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019, Phone: 212-582-5100

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2. L’Artusi, West Village

L’Artusi, West Village
© L’Artusi, West Village

L’Artusi in New York’s West Village puts a creative, modern twist on traditional Italian food, leaving you feeling both comfortably at home and excited by a few of the more bold and unexpected flavor choices. The comprehensive wine list, which is arranged by region, attracts many diners. As far as entrees go, the pizzoccheri comes highly recommended.

It is a buckwheat pasta served with Brussels’ sprouts and potatoes and then topped with melted fontina cheese. L’Artusi has two floors of comfortable seating as well as a bar and a chef’s counter that overlooks the open-concept kitchen. The atmosphere is fun and upbeat, from the decor to the attitude and personality of the servers. Explore the best things to do in NY on vacation.

228 West 10th Street #1, New York, NY 10014, Phone: 212-255-5757

3. Patsy's Italian Restaurant, Midtown

Patsy's Italian Restaurant, Midtown
© Patsy's Italian Restaurant, Midtown

Patsy's Italian Restaurant is a family-owned restaurant that has been a staple on Manhattan’s West Side since 1944. This landmark establishment serves authentic Neapolitan cuisine. Some of Patsy’s signature dishes are the veal chops Siciliano, chicken contadina, and the calamari stuffed with seafood. The theater district restaurant is well known as Frank Sinatra’s favorite restaurant and his family still visits whenever they are in New York.

There are many other high profile patrons who visit Patsy’s on a regular basis, so your chances at a celebrity sighting are high. The restaurant has developed a line of pasta sauces that are available in six varieties both online and at fine and specialty grocery stores throughout the country.

236 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019, Phone: 212-247-3491

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4. Locanda Verde, Tribeca

Locanda Verde, Tribeca
© Locanda Verde, Tribeca

Chef Andrew Cardellini of Locanda Verde has earned himself a name among New York restauranteurs for his urban-Italian style and consistently flawless execution. The hearty dish My Grandmother’s Ravioli as well as the lamb sandwich on the lunch menu are both among the restaurant’s most popular items. The sheep’s milk ricotta makes for the perfect accompaniment to your meal. It is topped with olive oil and sea salt and served with grilled bread.

Reservations are difficult to secure and the restaurant is nearly always packed. The tables are small and crammed together, but the food is worth it. Locanda Verde also remains one of the best places in New York City to spot celebrities, which adds to its allure.

377 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10013, Phone: 212-925-3797

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5. Ristorante Rafele, West Village

Ristorante Rafele, West Village
© Ristorante Rafele, West Village

Ristorante Rafele's chef and co-owner Raffaele Ronca was born and raised in Naples. He has loved working in the kitchen since a very early age and has gained experience in some of New York’s finest kitchens. His West Village restaurant offers authentic rustic Italian dining in the style of Southern Tuscan home cooking.

The ingredients are farm-to-table and local to the area. The produce comes from Blooming Hill Farm in upstate New York. The fish is caught locally near Long Island and local grass-fed meats also grace the menu. Some of the most popular entrees are the paccheri all’ amatriciana and the bronzino alla griglia. You would be missing out if you didn't finish your meal with the chef’s prized Italian ricotta cheesecake.

29 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10014, Phone: 212-242-1999

6. Pastai, Chelsea

Pastai, Chelsea
© Pastai

Pastai is a Southern Italian restaurant in Chelsea which specializes in handmade artisan pasta. If you are looking for an intimate, unique lunch or dinner spot with plenty of local charm, this is a great place to visit. The pasta is made on site in an open kitchen where patrons can admire the expert handiwork. There are a few tasty appetizers on the menu, such as the applauded fried olives with pecorino cheese and an Italian cheese selection served with grilled bread.

However, the pasta is what you came here for. One of the best is the busiate con salsicca, which is a whole-wheat pasta lightly tossed with broccoli rabe, chicken sausage, grapes, and spring onions. The menu also features a fantastic beet ravioli and a hearty and satisfying lasagna. Pastai also has a wine bar where guests can choose from a wine list of awesome Sicilian wines.

186 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10011, Phone: 646-688-3463

7. Rubirosa Pizza, Nolita

Rubirosa Pizza, Nolita
© Rubirosa Pizza, Nolita

Rubirosa Pizza is a family-run neighborhood restaurant specializing in Italian-American food and pizza. The restaurant has become famous for their vodka sauce pizza. Their most popular pie features an ultra-thin crust, the signature vodka sauce, and slices of fresh mozzarella cheese.

The menu runs deeper than pizza though, with a selection of antipasti, fantastic pasta, and even rainbow cookies to finish off your meal. The warm and welcoming atmosphere will have you feeling right at home at Rubirosa, whether you are stopping in for a quick slice or celebrating an occasion with your family. The restaurant even has a mobile pizza oven that can be rented out for your holiday party or special event.

235 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012, Phone: 212-965-0500

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8. Babbo, Greenwich Village

Babbo, Greenwich Village
© Babbo, Greenwich Village

Well-known New York chef Mario Batali serves pasta and other Italian specialties at his restaurant in Greenwich Village. Start your meal with some antipasti such as grilled octopus or a sampler platter of high-quality meat. At Babbo, the highlight of the entree menu is certainly the pasta.

The linguine with clams is superb and the gnocchi with braised oxtail will have you coming back again and again. Many of the dishes include unexpected ingredients such as wild fennel pollen and dried orange. These unexpected flavors will excite your senses and leave you feeling pleasantly surprised and satisfied. The restaurant can be quite busy, so reservations are recommended.

110 Waverley Place, New York, NY 10011

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9. Lido, Harlem

Lido, Harlem
© Lido, Harlem

Lido is a cutesy Italian restaurant with a laid-back yet classy atmosphere. The restaurant has become well known as a go-to weekend brunch spot in Harlem. Chef Serena Bass has a Modern Italian style and influences that range from North African to French. Thus, the Italian food served here offers an exciting twist on some classic dishes.

At dinner, it is a good idea to treat Lido as if it were a tapas bar. The appetizers truly steal the show from the entrees, which do not receive such high reviews. The salt-cod fritters are outstanding and come with a garlic aioli for dipping. The pea-shoot salad is a tasty and fresh starter as well.

2168 Frederick Douglass Blvd., New York, NY 10026, Phone: 646-490-8575

10. La Masseria, Midtown

La Masseria, Midtown
© La Masseria, Midtown

In Italian, la masseria is the word for the farmhouse that is the center of farm life. Owners Peppe Iuele, Enzo Ruggiero, and Pino Coladonato have done their best to recreate the Italian masseria in their midtown restaurant. The decor is rustic, warm, and welcoming and includes old farm tools and a wagon wheel chandelier.

The home-style, authentic cuisine of La Masseria fits perfectly into this atmosphere. Guests can start by sharing a sampler plate of antipasti or perfectly fried zucchini strips. These pasta dishes will transport you to the old country, for they have been prepared as Italians in Italy have been doing in their own kitchens for centuries.

235 West 48th Street, New York City, NY 10036, Phone: 212-582-2111

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11. Carbone, Greenwich Village

Carbone, Greenwich Village
© Carbone, Greenwich Village

Carbone is a high-end Italian-American restaurant created by chefs Mario Carbone, Jeff Zalaznick, and Rich Torrisi. The restaurant’s retro-glam interior has many allusions to mid-20th century Italian restaurants in New York. The food is served by ‘captains’ who act the part of joking, slightly bossy Italians from the time period.

Guests might feel as if they have stepped into the Godfather. Recommended dishes at Carbone include carpaccio piemontese, scampi alla scampi, Caesar salad alla ZZ and the lemon cheesecake. The portions are huge, including a veal parmesan that’s as big as some pizzas and a 2.5-pound lobster fra diavolo. Reservations are taken one month in advance, so dinner at Carbone requires a bit of forward planning.

181 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012, Phone: 212-254-3000

12. il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, NoHo

il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, NoHo
© il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, NoHo

An outpost of the original restaurant, il Buco on Bond Street, il Buco Alimentari & Vineria is a special place because it combines both the specialties of the Italian village grocery with the quintessential Italian cafe. The alimentari, or market side, sells a selection of house-made salami, cheeses, and homemade breads.

The vineria offers a wide selection of Italian fare such as homemade artisan pasta and their ever-popular short rib sandwiches. The dishes feature many of the ingredients sold at the alimentari as well as other market-fresh and seasonal ingredients. The wine bar offers a superb selection of wines. Of course, you are missing out if you don’t finish your experience with some house-made gelato or sorbet.

53 Great Jones Street, New York, NY 10012, Phone: 212-837-2622

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13. Pisillo Italian Panini, FiDi

Pisillo Italian Panini, FiDi
© Pisillo Italian Panini, FiDi

Pisillo Italian Panini is an Italian sandwich joint selling a variety of finely crafted paninis. The jumbo Italian sandwiches are piled high atop fresh bread delivered each morning from a local bakery in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Many of their ingredients, such as the buffalo mozzarella, are imported from Italy and delivered each week.

The sandwiches are not served hot, defying what many people consider a panini to be, but allowing the cold cuts to be served at the highest quality. Virtually every sandwich on the menu receives high accolades. The sandwich joint has rented the space next door, where it now sells coffee drinks, cookies, and pastries. This has added some space to their always busy and small dining area.

97 Nassau Street, New York, NY 10038, Phone: 212-227-3104

14. Uva, Upper West Side

Uva, Upper West Side
© Uva, Upper West Side

Uva is a popular Italian restaurant in the Upper West Side. While the restaurant offers a number of well-executed entree items, such as the black truffle gnocchi and short ribs, it’s best enjoyed as an appetizer and wine bar. Come with a group and enjoy a few plates of antipasti and a couple bottles of wine and you will not be disappointed.

The prosciutto and cheese platter is plenty for sharing. Other popular small bites and sharable appetizers are the crab meat and avocado appetizer, the sheep’s milk ricotta, and the whipped tuna with capers and chives. There is a nice covered area in the back to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city streets while exploring the expansive wine list.

1486 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10075, Phone: 212-472-4552

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15. Tony's Di Napoli, Midtown

Tony's Di Napoli, Midtown
© Tony's Di Napoli, Midtown

Tony's Di Napoli is a New York City landmark that has been serving Italian food in the Casablanca Hotel since 1959. The food is traditional Southern Neapolitan and is served on huge, family-style platters. In addition to the flagship restaurant, Tony’s also has a location in the Upper East Side.

The menu features a large selection of appetizers ranging from stuffed mushrooms to mussels three different ways. There are several choices for a salad course. You can find pasta in almost any imaginable way on the menu as well as several meat-based entrees. Portions are very large and are designed for two or three people. Come early for dinner to avoid a long wait.

147 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036, Phone: 212-221-0100

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16. La Lanterna di Vittorio, Greenwich Village

La Lanterna di Vittorio, Greenwich Village
© La Lanterna di Vittorio, Greenwich Village

La Lanterna di Vittorio has three dining areas to choose from and all boast a romantic appeal. The 200-year-old garden out back features four fireplaces, making it a romantic place to share a meal almost all year round. The intimate upstairs dining room features small marble tables and cane-backed chairs with a quirky selection of mix-and-match artwork and excellent street views of MacDougal street.

The downstairs dining area has incredibly low ceilings, a working fireplace, and an adjoining dessert cafe serving a fantastic dulce de leche gelato. The menu offerings are modest in comparison to the surroundings. However, they do good 10-inch-pizzas with a variety of toppings and have a small selection of paninis.

129 MacDougal Street, New York, NY 10012, Phone: 212-529-5945

17. Italian Village Pizzeria, Upper East Side

Italian Village Pizzeria, Upper East Side
© Italian Village Pizzeria, Upper East Side

Italian Village Pizzeria has been serving pizza on the Upper East Side since 1970. They offer countertop pizza by the slice as well as full pies. The thin crust pizza is pretty hearty and one or two slices is enough to make a meal for most people.

The restaurant’s long-standing presence is clear from its drab interior, however this is compensated by the affordable pizza in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Other menu items that have quite a loyal following include the mozzarella sticks, chicken parmesan, and the eggplant parmesan hero. The restaurant features two seating areas with a casual dining front of house and a more formal back of house with tablecloths and full-service.

1494 1st Ave. #1, New York, NY 10075, Phone: 212-535-5950

18. Bottega, Upper East Side

Bottega, Upper East Side
© Bottega, Upper East Side

Bottega is a neighborhood restaurant in the Upper East Side that is friendly, comfortable, and elegant. The restaurant features old-school Italian cuisine, a great wine list, and warm service. The ingredients they use are sourced from all over the world and the entire menu is made from scratch in house each day. Start your meal with a selection of antipasti ranging from crostini to caprese and grilled polenta served with truffle-flavored mushrooms.

Bottega serves some of the best soups in New York, including a lentil soup and a Tuscan bread and tomato soup as well as a rotating soup of the day. The daily specials also include a homemade ravioli of the day. Other recommended pastas are the linguini alla vongole and the gnocchi.

1331 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10021, Phone: 212-288-5282

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