Delicious Dining at Best Italian Restaurants in Nashville
By Hollie Deese
Do you love Italian food? We do too, and that's why we dedicate ourselves to finding the best places to enjoy Italian cuisine in Nashville. There is an incredible amount of competition, some around for decades while others are fairly new to the scene. We've diligently scouted out the top eateries, and we've listened to our readers and their reviews of Nashville restaurants. No matter if you are craving classic red sauce dishes like hearty lasagna and spaghetti and meatballs at the stalwart Mama Mia's in Grassmere - be sure to bring your won bottle of wine for dinner - or are looking for something a little more adventurous and refined like house-cured salami and gremolata bread gnocchi at City House in Germantown, Nashville has an abundance of restaurants ready to serve their best dishes to meet any craving. At Caffe Nonna and Coco's Italian Market you can even bring some of the flavors home with you thanks to the authentic products on hand for home cooks. You can even find a regular supper club, Mangia, on our list, representing a growing trend of pop-ups in the area. So pull up a seat, pour a glass of the house red and dine your way through Nashville’s 10 Best Italian restaurants.
Considered a favorite among locals, casual and energetic Amerigo prides itself on serving some of the city's best and most innovative dishes. Although the decor is brighter and more modern than at this regional chain than at the traditional Italian ristorantes, make no mistake, the upscale cuisine is definitively Italian. The menu includes everything from traditional pasta and pizza dishes to more modern grilled fish and vegetarian options. Warm and inviting, with friendly yet professional service, it's no wonder locals continue to flock to Amerigo despite the rising number of competing Italian restaurants. (615-320-1740)
Nick's Italian Deli and Pizzeria
Since 1989 Nick's Italian Deli has been serving classic Italian fare in a number of locations. And people keep following them wherever they go because of the fresh, highest quality ingredients at a totally reasonable price. Call ahead to pick up one of the Brooklyn-style pizza pies or bring the family and grab a table for hearty helpings of spaghetti and meatballs, hand-breaded chicken parmigiana, baked ziti, lasagna, orzo pasta, antipasto or their signature eggplant parmigiana. Plate lunches are served with a crisp side salad and warm, fresh Italian bread, as well as hot and cold cut subs. (615-790-6425)
Antonio's of Nashville
Old World Italian is alive and well in Music City with just the right touch of southern hospitality. The ambiance inside is just right for a romantic meal with a date despite the strip mall location. And after nearly two decades, Antonio's continues to lure diners because of the food coming out of the open kitchen. One of the specialties, a shrimp bisque in cognac and served in a bread bowl, is a must-order, as are most of the nightly specials. Meat shines, from the roasted rack of lamb to classic saltimbocca layered with fresh sage, imported prosciutto and Fontina cheese. (615-646-9166)
Not many restaurants last more than a year or two, much less a couple of decades. But Mama Mia's has managed to thrive for more than 20 years despite being grouped together with a couple of gas stations thanks to homey Italian classics like chicken Marsala, baked lasagna and pasta primavera as well as adding bright updates over the years like lobster-filled ravioli and polenta with artichokes, fried leeks olives and a cilantro ginger sauce. Plan a few hours for your meal as food is cooked to order and people linger over their favorite wine (Mama Mia's is BYOB). (615-331-7207)
Valentino's enjoys a fine reputation as one of Nashville's favorite Northern Italian restaurants, and rightfully so. The intimate restaurant, located in an old home, boasts an elegant atmosphere. Rustic signature dishes include Chicken Marsala, Veal Saltimbocca and Seafood Fettuccini. Longtime owners Kevin Beitter and Ronald Kemp keep the quality up, even after decades of service. Plus, charity-minded diners should check their website often for information about their Charity Dining Days, which benefits charities like the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, Dining Out for Life, Operation Troop Aid and various other local charities. (615-327-0148)
This Northern Italian restaurant is known for two things: offering a fantastic view of the city and homemade Italian cuisine. The atmosphere is relaxed, and the well-dressed wait staff treats all customers like royalty. All Sole's pastas -- manicotti is the house specialty -- are made fresh daily, as are the delicious made-to-order pizzas. Come prepared to ask for a box, as portions are quite large. Reservations can be made on their website as well, so you can make sure you plan to quell your craving for beef carpaccio, chicken piccata and tender Chateaubriand whenever and wherever the mood strikes. (615-256-4013)
Coco's Italian Market
From the Bocce ball court to the totally authentic imported ingredients, Coco's Italian Market is the real deal. With a successful family New York business going nearly 50 years strong, the owners learned how to slice meat right in that deli. Now you can enjoy four generations of home-style Italian goodness in the form of meatballs, Caprese with balsamic reduction and totally hearty Tuscan Rustica with cannellini beans, pancetta, garlic, onions and spinach. Most ingredients you fall in love with can be brought how with you thanks to the in-store market. Catering for large events is available. (615-783-0114)
Head to Sylvan Park for a mouthwatering plate of Old World pasta, lovingly made by Chef Daniel Maggipinto, the former executive chef of the Hearst Corporation in New York. A majority of the meals are prepared by the old family recipes of his grandmother, Nonna - and just one visit will be enough to get you hooked on the homey and delicious plates coming out of the small kitchen. Plates piled with fettucine with pesto cream sauce or agnolotti with pancetta, white wine and marinara are some of the stars, and don't leave without tasting one of their sweet endings. (615-463-0133)
Situated in Germantown, City House is a Music City treat for pizza, pasta, and fine dining lovers. Whether you have a seasoned palate, or are in the mood for an unforgettable meal, City House will treat you right, especially with starters like octopus with eggplant, tomato, garlic, basil, chilies, peanuts and raisins. With James Beard nominated chef Tandy Wilson's mission to use local ingredients, it's easy to feel good about walking through their doors. Aside from the regular menu that shifts with the seasons, check their website for news and announcements about special dinners hosted on site, like Sunday Suppers. (6157365838)
An authentic New York Italian family meal via Franklin, this dining experience is unlike any other in the area. For $45, diners gather every Friday at 7pm and Saturday at 6pm in The Cool Caf-- space with the other lucky diners who managed to secure a spot -- some waiting months - at this supper club gone Italian. Be sure to allot at least three hours for your meal to pair the right wines from the full list or sip one of the carefully chosen craft beers. Fun music, vibrant conversation and, of course, dishes like lemon risotto cakes, shrimp saltimbocca and perfect roast chicken make Mangia more than worth the wait. (615-538-7456)
About Hollie Deese
Hollie Deese is a Nashville-based writer who has spent the past 10 years falling in love with the sights, sounds and flavors of Music City. Hollie has 15 years experience as a writer and editor for regional and national publications, including The Tennessean, USA Today, Nashville Interiors, and the Nashville Ledger.
Read more about Hollie Deese here.