Best Italian Dining in Santa Barbara: Wine, Spaghetti, Gelato and Amore!

Santa Barbara’s Mediterranean influences extend far beyond the red tile roofs and balmy gardens, right onto our dinner (and lunch) plates. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the plethora of Italian restaurants dotting our streets. From small Mom-and-Pop counter hideaways to fancy white linen affairs, Santa Barbara’s Italian eateries run the gamut.

Downtown Santa Barbara boasts a multitude of dining options for pasta lovers. On fair evenings, try to get a seat on Bucatini’s patio for an al fresco dinner right in the center of the action. Or, for a little ambience no matter what the weather, try the Chase Bar & Grill; thousands of twinkling, white lights decorate the interior, creating a magical and romantic glow.

If you happen to be visiting Montecito - our ritzy neighbor just 10 minutes south of Santa Barbara - you will find many other great Italian restaurants, including Via Vai or Tre Lune. Tre Lune also serves breakfast; its terrace is a prime location for a cup of espresso and a little game of spot-the-celebrity.

Die hard Italian enthusiasts should not miss Via Maestra 42. Even Julia Child loved it!

But, with all of these choices, how do you choose the best restaurant for you? You’ve come to the right place. This 10Best list will help you find exactly what you’re looking for, whether it’s an authentic Italian pizza or a crisp cannoli like Grandma used to make. Now start reading so you can hurry up and make a reservation already!


From Via Vai's fantastic terrace, you can munch on savory, wood-fired pizzas while looking out to the Montecito foothills in the distance. It's a recipe for bliss, especially when you add in a pitcher of wine and a table full of friends. For...  Read More

Trattoria Vittoria
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives

For a cozy Italian dinner in an intimate but animated setting, make a reservation at Trattoria Vittoria. All of your favorites dishes are waiting for you: penne arrabiata, spaghetti al pomodoro, lasagna al ragu... the list goes on and on. The...  Read More

Tre Lune
Photo courtesy of Tre Lune

From the moment you set foot inside the restaurant, Tre Lune's mission is clear: each of their patrons will walk away with a classic taste of Italy. And come back, again and again, as their many loyal customers already do. To start with, there...  Read More

Olio Crudo Bar is the third restaurant from the team behind Santa Barbara's established Italian favorite Olio e Limone Ristorante. The crudo bar specializes in Italian seafood dishes, served raw or minimally cooked and dressed with quality olive...  Read More

Santa Barbara

Bucatini is an Italian trattoria and pizzeria located in the heart of Santa Barbara's downtown district. Serving lunch and dinner seven days a week, Bucatini's menu includes all the great classics - minestrone, spaghetti etc. - and celebrates...  Read More

Santa Barbara

Ca'Dario is a charming neighborhood Italian restaurant with an intimate setting, tucked just one block to the side of busy downtown Santa Barbara. Born and raised in Italy, chef Dario Furlati dishes up a menu featuring savory Northern Italian...  Read More

Tucked away in a quiet outdoor shopping area off busy State St., Olio Pizzeria is a local haven - the place to go for a light snack, drinks with friends, or even a decadent, authentic Italian pizza experience. Appetizers include artisanal...  Read More

Enjoy Italian and Mediterranean dishes with a view of the ocean! This romantic waterfront restaurant is located near some of the best hotels in the West Beach area of Santa Barbara. Enjoy fresh salads and delicious pastas, like gnocchi with rock...  Read More

Santa Barbara
Olio e Limone

This accomplished Italian restaurant receives constant kudos for its authentic yet inventive cuisine. Husband and wife team Alberto and Elaine Morello opened Olio e Limone Ristorante in 1999 with the goal of providing Santa Barbara with creative...  Read More

Tucked away on landlocked upper State Street is a gem of an Italian eatery, Via Maestra 42. The restaurant is very small and, at first glance, barely resembles a restaurant at all. There are freezers full of Italian delicacies, a gelato counter,...  Read More


Meet Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 on a whim (ok, and to go to college) and never looked back. She loves Santa Barbara because it’s really one of America’s greatest small towns - it...  More About Geneva