Italian

At 10Best, we're always on the lookout for St. Paul's best restaurants, and while we appreciate places that have a broad culinary range, we can't help but adore restaurants that specialize in a given cuisine. When we're in the mood for Italian food in St. Paul, we head to Carmelo's - a reader favorite - or we count on Pazzaluna Urban Italian Restaurant & Bar's solid track record and consistently great dishes. You'll find these places - and any of the restaurants on our list - to be fantastic options for Italian cuisine, and if you're looking to concentrate your efforts, start with the vibrant Downtown area.

10 Pazzaluna Urban Italian Restaurant & Bar
Pazzaluna, in Italian, means "crazy moon," and the meaning sets the tone for this bustling, authentic Italian restaurant. Highlighting regional cuisine, chefs prepare stand-out dishes from all over Italy. Enjoy risotto with fresh chicken breast or ravioli filled with chicken, potato, and ham. The swank place also boasts an antipasto bar and open kitchen. There's a great after-work bar scene, too. (651-223-7000)

9 Buca di Beppo
Buca di Beppo has a reputation for being one of the most entertaining Italian eateries in town. Inside, the decor borders on downright amusing, as does the waitstaff's Stooge-like behavior, as they yell across the restaurant and bark orders at patrons. The shtick is not an attempt to cover a weak menu either, because the family-style food comes in delicious heaps. Specialties include homemade pizzas, veal saltimbocca, and spicy chicken rigatoni. Southern Italian cuisine at its Twin City best! (651-772-4388)

8 Ristorante Luci
St. Paul doesn't lack for Italian restaurants, and Luci is among the best. The cozy restaurant lacks the flashy interior of some of its competitors, but owners Al and Lucille take pride in their Southern Italian menu. It's hard to select a favorite from so many excellent dishes, but any visit must include bruschetta followed by anything featuring homemade mozzarella cheese. (651-699-8258)

7 Cossetta's Italian Market & Pizzeria
Cossetta's cafeteria-style atmosphere is reminiscent of places you'd find in Little Italy. Indeed, the Italian grocery is St. Paul's oldest such business. Perhaps that's why locals flock here for lunch with such frequency. Award-winning pizzas are hand-tossed and scrumptious; if you're looking for something lighter, select pastas and salads from the deli counter. (651-222-3476)

6 D'Amico & Sons
Grand Avenue's D'Amico & Sons offers a trendy, even upscale option for those craving excellent Italian take-out. This serve-yourself, deli-style restaurant has the charming look and feel of an Italian grocery, carrying everything from olive oil to traditional herbs and spices. Surprisingly good entrées include their seafood ravioli, margherita pizza and yellow fin tuna. If you're in a hurry at lunch, you can even fax in your order. (651-227-9933)

5 Carmelo's
One step into the paneled dining room of this restaurant, and you'll know immediately that you're in for a feast of epic proportions. Customers are made to feel like old friends as they sit at simply decorated tables covered with green tablecloths. The menu is "old-style," and Carmelo's specialties include a variety of seafood pasta dishes — salmon with angel hair is a favorite. To conclude, your server will ply you with a tempting dessert tray. (651-699-2448)

4 Mama's Pizza
Groups, families, couples — everyone loves Mama's. Large portions of Italian comfort food arrive at your booth piping hot, if you can tear yourself away from the TVs long enough to eat. While pizza pies are the specialty, spaghetti & meatballs, lasagna, chicken, and burgers also have a home on the menu. The superb, friendly waitstaff at the family-run restaurant add something special to your meal, literally; you can count on a complimentary, postprandial soft-serve cone to sweeten the deal. (651-489-2005)

3 Trattoria da Vinci
Stop by at lunch for da Vinci's delicious pasta bar, or meet clients or a date for dinner — this Italian eatery's tasty fare transitions well from day to night. Seafood lovers delight in the frittura mista appetizer: lightly fried shrimp, scallops, and calamari served with lemon, aioli, and vegetables. Chicken, veal, lamb, beef, and fish all appear on the menu, alongside a varied list of risottos and gnocchi. Plus, a welcome kid's menu features items your children will actually want to eat. In keeping with the place's name, Leonardo da Vinci prints adorn the walls. (651-222-4050)

2 DeGidio's Restaurant & Bar
A staple Italian restaurant since the 1930s, DeGidio's has quite a colorful history. Founded by a St. Paul bootlegger and later a popular gathering place for St. Paul mobsters, the restaurant has since lost its mob ties. However, it retains the healthy portions and pricing of that bygone era. The mostaccioli is a perennial favorite - big, plump meatballs, ladle-fulls of homemade marinara and a layer of melted mozzarella on top of the pasta make for a savory delight! (651-291-7105)

1 Osteria I Nonni
The vaulted ceilings and soft lighting in Osteria I Nonni are beautiful in their own right, but they're nothing compared to the food. When you consider the rich selection of seasonal Roman-inspired cuisine, there are plenty of superb reasons to eat (and eat again) at this restaurant. Representative dishes include pennette and shrimp in a sun-cured tomato pesto and sinful braised rabbit with grilled treviso. (651-905-1081)


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1
Pazzaluna Urban Italian Restaurant & Bar 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Chef's Table, Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
COST: $$$
2
Buca di Beppo 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Catering, Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
COST: $$
3
Ristorante Luci 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Disabled Accessible, Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: HIGHLAND
COST: $$
4
Cossetta's Italian Market & Pizzeria 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Disabled Accessible, Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian, Pizza
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
COST: $
5
D'Amico & Sons 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Catering, Delivery, Family Friendly, Non-Smoking, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: GRAND AVENUE / DOWNTOWN
COST: $
6
Carmelo's 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Disabled Accessible, Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: MACALESTER
COST: $$
7
Mama's Pizza 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, European, Italian, Pizza
Dining Options: Catering, Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Take Out
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
COST: $$
8
Trattoria da Vinci 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Dining Options: Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Live Music, Non-Smoking
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
COST: $$
9
DeGidio's Restaurant & Bar 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
COST: $
10
Osteria I Nonni 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Wine Cellar
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
COST: $$
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