Sometimes, the urge to have Italian food strikes, and nothing satisfies until you get it. When that happens, count on 10Best to point you in the direction of Minneapolis's best Italian restaurants. We understand the desire to have a great meal, and we work hard to bring you the top places to eat in Minneapolis. We vet restaurants carefully for quality, and when we recommend popular eateries like al Vento or tell you that Zelo gets good reader feedback, you can believe it. We'll make sure you get - and eat - what's best.

Just a few minutes southwest of Minneapolis, this snazzy Italian restaurant specializes in outstanding pastas, salads, pizzas, and poultry. Catch a glimpse of the chefs at work in the open kitchen as they prepare balsamic-glazed short ribs and spaghetti, braised lamb shank and spit-roasted chicken with risotto. To finish off, make sure you sample the Italian cookie platter or the chocolate truffle cake. The dining area features elaborate, hand-painted, faux-finished walls. (952-941-6868)

Il Gato
Il Gatto, one of Minneapolis's trendier restaurants, is just the place to brush shoulders with a well-heeled crowd. Famous for its hand-spun pizzas, oak-grilled steaks and fresh pastas, Il Gatto promises incredible, rustic fare. They also stock plenty of wine, and their prices are among the best in town. The best tables are located in the rear near the fireplace. (612-822-1688)

Ciao Bella
Sister restaurant of Zelo, Ciao Bella is a trendy, smartly decorated eatery that's quite popular at lunch and dinner with the business crowd. The moody restaurant features sensous curves, exposed brick, wrought iron, and bold design elements, including a funky bar. Pizza is king at lunch, but at dinner you'll want to sample excellent pasta dishes — fusilli with grilled chicken is not to be missed. Fresh fish, steaks, and chicken also prove delicious. Reservations are suggested. (952-841-1000)

Zelo successfully brings the scintillating atmosphere, tastes, and aromas of Northern Italy to downtown Minneapolis. The sophisticated restaurant's rich, dramatic interior is marked by bold bronze and black tones, intimate booths, and a trendy bar scene. The menu includes pastas, pizzas, wood-grilled pork and steaks, fresh fish, veal scallopine, and even an ahi tuna burger. Complete a meal with molten chocolate cake, artisan cheeses, or a tripartite gelato sampler. (612-333-7000)

Buca di Beppo
If you're in the mood for family-style Italian food, hit Loring Park's Buca di Beppo. Inside, colorful dining areas feature a wide range of eccentric statues and paintings. For dinner, try a homemade, Italian sausage and pepperoni-topped Supremo Italiano pizza, or if you're looking for something a little different, go for the chicken saltimbocca. Dessert lovers NEED the Dolce Platter (one each of tiramisu, double dark chocolate cake, cheesecake and apple crostata). (612-288-0138)

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al Vento
Hearty southern Italian cuisine comes to South Minneapolis in this cozy restaurant. Yellow-gold paint and whimsical decorative touches create an intimate, welcoming space. Octopus with saffron potato and citronette makes for an unexpected starter, while updated classics like spaghetti with tomato and veal meatballs and gorgonzola-crusted steak with wild mushroom ragu populate the entrees menu. Arrive early on weeknights to sip half-price bottles of wine between 4:30pm and 5:30pm. (612-724-3009)

Whether you're looking for an on-the-go sandwich for lunch or a leisurely, first-date dinner, Prima is a wise choice. Locals rave about the deli sandwiches, piled high with choice meats and accompaniments like brie and spinach. Pastas take center stage at dinner — five-cheese tortellini and spaghetti vongole are dished up in generous, savory portions. Agnolotti, small pasta stuffed with a puree of red peppers and goat cheese, is not to be missed. With several dishes geared towards vegetarians and a kid-friendly atmosphere, there's something for everyone at this favorite neighborhood bistro. (612-827-7376)

Loring Pasta Bar
You'll marvel at the Loring Pasta Bar Restaurant in Minneapolis as soon as you walk through the doors. With unique, beautiful artwork and décor throughout, this stunning restaurant is as much a feast for the eyes as the mouth. Offering both traditional Italian dishes, as well as their own signature entrées, Loring offers a little bit of everything. Start off with an order of the pan-fried potstickers or the delicious artichoke ramekin. For a unique Louisiana Creole dish, try the Loring Shrimp Jambalaya or stick with an Italian specialty like spinach and cream cheese raviolis with braised lamb shank. Let your taste buds go crazy at Loring Pasta Bar. (612-378-4849)

Broders' Pasta Bar
Pasta, as an art form? It certainly is that way at Broders' Pasta Bar. The 21 varieties of pasta and risotto are made fresh, daily. Not only that, each dish is prepared with individually sautéed herbs and garlic. The atmosphere is casual and friendly - diners seated at the bar get a view of the chefs as they cook, and there are always daily specials to mix up the standard favorites. (612-925-9202)

Trattoria Tosca
The lustrous, dark walls and high, warmly lit ceilings project an unbeatable romantic ambiance in Trattoria Tosca. Even better, the rustic wooden tables draw all the attention where it should be - to the artfully presented seasonal Italian fare. The concise menu allows for frequent rotation, although perennial favorites have included ravioli with foie gras, chicken and cream, as well as a rack of lamb served with polenta, English shell peas and roasted garlic. (612-924-1900)

Maps and Directions

Campiello 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Eden Prairie
Cost: $$
Il Gato 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, European, Italian, New American
Neighborhood: Uptown
Cost: $$
Ciao Bella 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Bloomington
Cost: $$
Zelo 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cost: $$
Buca di Beppo 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Loring Park
Cost: $$
al Vento 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Nokomis
Cost: $$
Prima 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: South Minneapolis
Cost: $$
Loring Pasta Bar 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, European, Italian
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cost: $$
Broders' Pasta Bar 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Southwest Minneapolis
Cost: $
Trattoria Tosca 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Southwest Minneapolis
Cost: $$
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