Savannah may be a long way from bella Italia, but if you need your Italian "food fix" while you're in town, you'll find several local establishments dishing up recipes from the old country, sure to please the most discerning Italian food aficionado. Restaurants like the upscale Garibaldi Café offer Old World elegance along with a delicious selection of Italian cuisine. The trendy Florence features southern-grown ingredients, but the focus is definitely Italiano. The elegant Leoci’s Trattoria offers home-made pasta and brick-oven pizzas in an indoor and outdoor setting, close to the Victorian District. Bella’s Italian Café in Midtown offers a cozy atmosphere and a terrific selection of Italian specialties. Corleone’s Trattoria in the Historic District highlights an extensive, traditional host of Italian favorites. If pizza is what you want, you'll find a number of casual eateries serving fresh, hot pies. Some of the downtown favorites include Vinnie Van Go-Go’s, Your Pie and Screamin’ Mimi’s Pizza and Subs.
Lovezzola's Pizza & Family Restaurant
Founded in 1978 by Paul and Juanita Lovezzola, this family eatery features an amazing roster of Italian culinary favorites. From pizzas to calzones, garlic breads to strombolis, you'll find a wide selection of family style recipes to choose from. Located just outside Savannah in Pooler, the restaurant specializes in pizza in a variety of sizes, including a mini pizza for those wanting a smaller, individualized pie. Also on the menu are pasta dishes, including spaghetti with meatballs, ravioli and stuffed shells, along with subs, salads and appetizers. A popular lunch buffet - available Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. - features all-you-can-eat bread sticks, salad, pizza and pasta. Other specials are available on weeknights. (912-748-6414)
This family- family friendly, neighborhood pizzeria located on Savannah's Southside offers hand tossed pizzas, pasta, hoagies and more. They use only the freshest and finest ingredients and pizzas can be ordered by the slice with your choice of toppings. A café menu includes hoagie selections - with half or whole portions - with meatball or chicken parmesan, Philly cheese steak, and an Italian combo with pepperoni, salami, ham and cheese. Classic Italian favorites include spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and cheese ravioli. Also offered are freshly made salads, soups, sandwiches and spicy wings. The excellent service and friendly staff add to the enjoyment. (912-921-7800)
Pacci Italian Kitchen & Bar
Tucked into The Brice, A Kimpton Hotel, Pacci Italian Kitchen & Bar Restaurant is a convivial neighborhood favorite offering the coziness of a rustic Italian farmhouse while dishing up coastal Italian cuisine - with a definite Southern touch. Dishes such as Gemelli Caserecce - pesto kale, sunburst squash, garlic and marinated tomatoes - paired with the perfect wine, topped off by a decadent amaretto cheesecake offers a satisfying choice. Soul-warming soups, tasty antipasti and homemade pasta accompany an array of seafood and meat options. Desserts highlight Italian staples such as gelato and bombolini (Italian donut) and more. An extensive bar serves trendy takes on classic cocktails, aperitivos along with locally made spirits and beer, while the extensive wine list offers a collection of Italian selections as well as favorites from around the globe.
With two locations in Savannah - on Ellis Square in the Historic District, and in the Sandfly neighborhood near Isle of Hope - this regional chain restaurant has been offering Savannah diners a unique concept since 2008. You can simply select your crust, sauce, cheese and toppings or you can opt for one of the restaurant's unique creations. Weight watchers will appreciate the whole wheat crust and low-fat cheese options, while those with a more daring palate can go for the Thai Pie or Southern Heat - chicken smothered in hot sauce, with jalapeños, red onions and melted Mozzarella. The popular Slider Pie features hand-tossed dough topped with roasted garlic olive oil, white cheddar cheese, meatballs, red onions, pickles and yellow mustard. Salads, customized paninis, calzones and craft beer add to the dining experience. For dessert, there several flavors of gelato - including the recently introduced maple-bacon. ((912) 234-2433)
Vinnie Van Go-Go's
This award-winning City Market pizzeria is popular with locals and visitors alike for its oversized New York City-style slices, bountiful toppings and easy-going Savannah vibe. Thin, hearty crust Neapolitan-style pizzas can be ordered whole or by the slice, with an array of delicious fresh toppings including favorites such as pepperoni, spinach, onions, mushrooms and olives - and more unusual choices like banana peppers, broccoli, sundried tomatoes, pineapple, spicy Italian sausage and more. If you're in the mood for something other than pizza, try their spinach salad and calzones, accompanied by their great selection of beer. The majority of seating at Vinnie's is outdoors, though you may be able to snag seating inside. (912-233-6394)
Its prime location in Downtown Savannah combined with the authentic cuisine and excellent service, makes the award-winning Corleone's a favorite with locals and visitors alike. The varied menu offers something for everyone and includes gluten-free meals as well as whole wheat pasta for the health-conscious. The lunch menu offers soups, salads, and a variety of paninis and pastas including baked ziti and tasty lasagna. Dinner showcases specialties such as penne a la vodka, eggplant parmesan and chicken picatta as well as other Italian classics such as spaghetti, manicotti and tortellini. Desserts, as you would expect, feature traditional favorites such as tiramisu, cannoli, gelato and other tasty choices. The cozy atmosphere is an added perk. (912-232-2720)
Screamin' Mimi's Pizza & Subs
If you're in the mood for thin crust pizza loaded with fresh toppings, then Screamin' Mimi's is your kind of place. The Jersey-style pizza and sub joint conveniently located in one of the Historic District's only shopping centers, offers an easy food stop along your tour of Savannah. You can order the pizza - regarded by many as the best in town - whole or by the slice. The white tomato basil pizza is a top seller. Also on the menu are Italian subs, fresh salads and pasta dishes such as baked ziti, manicotti, gnocchi and spaghetti. The casual setting is inviting and offers additional seating on an outdoor patio. (912-236-2744)
Opened in June 2014, this trendy eatery - the brainchild of award-winning owner and Chef Hugh Acheson and Chef Kyle Jacovino - is one of Savannah's most popular restaurants. The ingredients are Southern-grown, but from the freshly baked bread, cheeses and aperitifs to the cappuccino, the focus is definitely Italiano.
You'll find an array of tasty pizzas and calzones as well as designer specialties such as fisherman stew Siciliana, pork cannelloni, black bucatini and other tasty treats. The Florence cannoli leads the list of desserts. Housed in a refurbished ice factory, the interior is a masterpiece of marble table tops, high ceilings and reclaimed wood, creating a definite laid-back atmosphere, which in turn, makes it a very inviting place. Depending on the day, this popular café - restaurant can be positively boisterous, but that just adds to the fun. (912.234.5522)
Old World elegance provides the perfect backdrop to this upscale Italian restaurant which has been a staple on the Savannah scene for more than 30 years. The romantic eatery - tucked into the 19th-century Germania Fire House - dishes up delicious Italian cucina such as traditional lasagna, spaghetti, chicken parmigiana and linguine primavera. Also highlighted is an ample selection of seafood creations such as the popular crispy scored flounder with apricot shallot and stuffed salmon with lump crab in a rich cream sauce. A raw and steam bar offers a host of selections starring oysters, shrimp, Dungeness crab and lobster cocktail. (912-232-7118)
About Michelle da Silva Richmond
Michelle da Silva Richmond is an award-winning travel editor and member of the Society of American Travel Writers and other journalism organizations.
She has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, consumer and trade magazines and in-flight publications. In addition, she has co- authored and contributed to many guide books and was a weekly travel columnist for a metropolitan Connecticut daily newspaper.
Growing up abroad, combined with a colorful career as a Pan Am flight attendant fueled her wanderlust and passion for travel.
She lived in Mexico City for nearly 20 years and has visited nearly 100 countries. Her bags are always packed.
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