If you've ever been to Italy, lived or vacationed, you've had the pleasure of experiencing one of the most fulfilling ethnic cuisines where food is love. And Baltimore has a lot of love for you. Italian food at its best is simple, fresh, and flavorful. It's more than just spaghetti and meatballs or pizza. The food varies by region and some of the best Italian restaurants are those that differentiate their regional cuisine from the standard fare and stick to what they know. Specializing can be a good thing.
This list of 10Best Italian restaurants in Baltimore gives you a variety of options in Italian dining. Restaurants like Cinghiale offer you a more upscale dining experience. The interior of "homey" Piedigrotta permeates with the smell of baked goods like that of an old-fashioned pasticcerie, where lunch and dinner plates no nothing of portion-control. If you're looking to keep it real and dine in the neighborhood, venture into Little Italy to Aldo's or if you're in the mood for something more convenient to your downtown hotel, Sotto Sopra's is also a good bet.
The thing to remember about Italian food in Baltimore, is that you have several delicious options at your disposal. You just need to pick the dining style, regional cuisine, and neighborhood that works for you.
10 Sammy's Trattoria
What's not to like about this charming corner dining room? Mustard walls, large windows, dark wood floors and a stunning bar adorn the interior, and the kitchen delivers artfully presented plates of pasta, veal, fish and more. Start off with shrimp bruschetta, then for your main course try the duck ravioli or veal tenderloin with a bottle of imported wine. (410-837-9999)
Little Italy is full of excellent, authentic dining options, but this one has carved out a niche for its friendly hospitality and its simple but flavorful cuisine. Ample portions of pastas, meats and seafood are generously ladled with the excellent, robust tomato sauce and plenty of melting cheese. Sample ziti la rosa, full of tasty sautéed shrimp, or the sweet, hearty sausage Marsala. The restaurant has several small dining rooms divided by hallways, giving an intimate feel to the space. (410-528-1096)
8 Dalesio's of Little Italy
Now this is something different � Italian health food! Located among "richer" Little Italy eateries, D'Alesio's features spa cuisine that packs a nutritional wallop without sacrificing flavor or satisfaction. The excellent wine list, lovely Victorian-style dining room, idyllic balcony and great harbor views draw crowds looking for romantic yet unpretentious ambience. Try flavorful shrimp marinara, light duck ravioli, or whole-wheat pasta topped with saut�ed chicken, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes. (410-539-1965)
7 La Scala of Little Italy
This Little Italy kitchen serves up lovely Italian cuisine and delights guests with an impressive wine list and hip cocktails. The antipasto originale, an appetizer platter of olives, cheeses and prosciotto, will whet your appetite for a scrumptious meat or pasta dish. Splurge for the New Zealand lobster tail, simmered in spicy tomato sauce and served over angel hair pasta. (410-783-9209)
6 La Tavola
Most Little Italy restaurants have been around for years, so this one is a relative newcomer, but it has perfected its menu of modern Italian favorites and has earned praise for its simple, contemporary decor. Pastas and seafood are the specialties of the house, and patrons should make sure they sample both during a meal here. Try the heaping, homemade pasta topped with a unique sauce made with raisins, pine nuts, and spinach, combined in nutmeg-infused cream sauce. The crab-stuffed ravioli, fresh grilled salmon, and veal scallopini all get rave reviews, as does the flawless service. (410-685-1859)
A traditional favorite for years, this Little Italy restaurant's enjoys the patronage of dedicated locals. Start off with one of their terrific, if addictive, salads, generously topped with the special house dressing. Then move on to classic dishes like light and airy gnocchi, cheese-topped baked manicotti, and huge plates of rich fettuccini Alfredo. Great veal and seafood dishes are available as well. Sop up any extra sauce with a slab of fresh garlic bread, and you are sure to leave with your appetite sated. (410-727-2667)
Piedigrotta first opened in 2002 in Little Italy. The friendly and warm husband and wife duo Bruna and Carmenantonio are welcoming hosts to the bakery's guests. These two have a genuine love for baking. If you're at a lost of what to order, the owners will be more than obliged to make suggestions whether it be something more substantial� from their lunch menu like the chicken puff pastry or a homemade ravioli or something sweet like an eclair, authentic Italian pastry or their infamous tiramisu. Carmenantonio is said to be the creator of this popular Italian desert. You can also order takeout from the restaurant or stock up on fresh breads for the week. The portions are large and their prices are good, making them a favorite in the Baltimore area for the past several years.� ((410) 522-6900)
A narrow two-story foyer, flanked with Italian arches and elegant white columns, adjoins this attractive dining room. The menu emphasizes healthy, flavorful preparation techniques and fresh, seasonal ingredients. Start off with the shrimp St. Andrea with lobster saffron mashed potatoes and tomato garlic butter, and then select a lovely plate of steak, pasta, fish or veal for your main course. (410-727-0700)
2 Sotto Sopra
For a memorable meal and contemporary atmosphere, this elegant Italian restaurant is a must. Flickering candles and minimalist decor create a uniquely romantic environment, and the terrific menu never fails to disappoint. Sample unique creations such as veal in tuna and anchovy sauce, thin pappardelle pasta with wild boar, or homemade duck ravioli with truffle oil. Amazing desserts include classic tiramisu and a rich vanilla cr�me br�l�e. An extraordinary wine list and perfect service make an evening at Sotto Sopro an extravagant treat. (410-625-0534)
Cinghiale, coining itself as the Modern Italian kitchen, does its best to create a healthy mix of elegant but authentic classic Italian cooking. The brain child of restaurateur Tony Foreman, Cinghiale offers pastas that are either hand-cut, house made or hand formed and prepared with love. Chef Julian Marucci prepares authentic regional Italian food from Northern and Central Italy, combining both classic Italian recipes and modern Italian cooking. The menu is split with offerings from either Grandma's Kitchen or fixed-price three-course meals. Your options don't end there - you can also choose to dine how you want. Enjoy Cinghiale in the elegant setting of the Osteria or dine in the more casual surroundings of the Enoteca, where you can raid the cellar every Tuesday for half-off bottles of wine. (410-547-8282)
About Tawanna Browne Smith
Tawanna has had a wanderlust spirit since she was 13. A dozen or so addresses later, she now resides in Maryland with her husband and two sons.
Tawanna is the founder and creator of Mom's Guide To Travel, a family travel blog. She's also a contributor to the Travel Channel.
If she's not traveling somewhere out of state, she's either shopping or searching for the best crabcake or the best cupcake in the Baltimore-Washington area.
Read more about Tawanna Browne Smith here.
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