Italian

At 10Best, we're always on the lookout for Charlotte'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 Charlotte, we head to Portofino's - a reader favorite - or we count on Mama Ricotta's'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 Uptown area.

9 Vivace - Charlotte
Enjoy a gorgeous view of the city from the Vivace patio while sipping a near perfect glass of Chianti, or dine inside and be awed by the restaurant's contemporary architecture and stunning red chandelier lamps. While the beautiful building is sure to impress, it's the delicious Italian entrees that truly blow patrons away. Each meal begins with bread service and a bean spread, which is duly complemented by any of the delicious homemade pasta dishes. (704-370-7755)

8 Aria Tuscan Grill
Offering a mix of old-world cuisine and Italian favorites, Aria Tuscan Grill leaves customers feeling like they've just visited their Italian grandmothers' kitchens. Diners rave about the Caramelized Gnocchi as well as the Steamed Mussels, served in a hearty plum tomato and Sambuca sauce. Main dishes like Osso Buco and Grilled Quail remind native Italians of home, while the rest of us are beyond satisfied by specialties like the Wild Mushroom Ravioli and creamy tiramisu. (704-376-8880)

7 Villa Francesca Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria
Greeting patrons by name whenever possible, Villa Francesca's owners work hard to make everyone feel at home in their Italian restaurant and pizzeria. Coming with a group? Split a few signature pizzas, and make sure one of those pies is a Grandma's Pizza -- it leaves locals hungry for more, which is why they can't stop coming! For simple yet authentically delicious Italian pasta dishes, opt for the Lasagna or the Stuffed Shells. (704-333-7447)

6 Toscana
From the Venetian glass and marble floors to the delectable bounty from the kitchen, this European dining room offers luxury and old-world charm. Complimentary Italian bread and white beans in olive oil are served at the beginning of meal, as patrons select a bottle of wine and tackle the menu's tough choices. Among the selection of Northern Italian delicacies, the spinach and ricotta pasta pillows with mascarpone cream sauce comes highly recommended. If it's a pleasant evening, make the most of it on the outdoor patio. (704-367-1808)

5 Luce
Lovely Murano glass and original artwork enhance this restaurant, located in the base of the Hearst tower, and an outdoor patio provides additional dining. From luscious starters such as mozzarella layered between fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil to flavorful meats, fish, and pastas, the kitchen boasts satisfying Tuscan cuisine. Try the agnolotti alla piemontese (ravioli stuffed with roasted veal, braised Swiss chard and parmesan). Wine list available. (704-344-9222)

4 Portofino's
This popular spot boasts a family-friendly atmosphere and fabulous Italian fare. Start off with garlic bread with cheese and perhaps the mussels marinara. With over 15 pastas available and a variety of specialty dishes, dinner offers quite the works. Dig into baked lasagna or stuffed eggplant, or order a calzone, pizza or Italian sub. A cannoli or tiramisu makes for a pleasing final course. (704-527-0702)

3 Villa Antonio
Housed in a Mediterranean-style building, this ornate restaurant features regal gold walls, soft red booths and architectural columns. A casual bar area, built with light-colored wood, is situated beside the large dance floor. Take or leave the highly decorated interior, the real deal here's the extravagant menu, filled with over-the-top pastas, premium seafood and decadent meats. Try the ravioli stuffed with lobster in a porcini mushroom cognac cream sauce then topped with 2 jumbo shrimp, or splurge for the slow-roasted veal shank with herbs and marsala wine over angel hair in tomato sauce. Live music nightly. (704-523-1594)

2 Fiamma
Outfitted with an open kitchen and bar, this Italian dining room offers a delightfully authentic atmosphere. Delicately prepared risottos, pastas, fish and meat dishes, as well as pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven, have led Charlotte natives to proclaim this as one of the best places to satisfy Italian cravings. Browse the terrific list of Italian wines for a perfect pairing, and be sure to save room for the irresistible homemade panna cotta. (704-333-3062)

1 Mama Ricotta's
One of the best values in Charlotte, Mama Ricotta's pleases with Italian fare that includes minestrone, aromatic garlic rolls, a large, fresh salad bowl for the table and Italian classics. Pasta lovers shouldn't miss the penne a la vodka and pizza enthusiasts will definitely want to sample specialty pies like the Chicken Oreganata. The atmosphere is that of a true Italian kitchen, and since most dishes can be served family-style, it's ideal for large groups. (704-343-0148)

Maps and Directions

1
Vivace - Charlotte 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Smoking (outdoor area)
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: MYERS PARK
COST: $$$
2
Aria Tuscan Grill 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Chef's Table, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: UPTOWN
COST: $$$
3
Villa Francesca Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Counter Seating, Delivery, Disabled Accessible, Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian, Pizza
Neighborhood: First Ward
COST: $$
4
Toscana 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Parties / Private Rooms, Smoking (bar only), Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: SOUTHPARK
COST: $$
5
Luce 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Catering, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Smoking (bar only), Wine Cellar
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: UPTOWN
COST: $$
6
Portofino's 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Catering, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian, Pizza
Neighborhood: PARK ROAD
COST: $$
7
Villa Antonio 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Catering, Dancing, Disabled Accessible, Live Music, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: SOUTH BOULEVARD
COST: $$
8
Fiamma 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Disabled Accessible, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Smoking (outdoor area), Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: DILWORTH
COST: $$
9
Mama Ricotta's 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Catering, Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Take Out
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: DILWORTH
COST: $$