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Boulder's Best Italian Dining Spots: The Godfathers of Pasta and Pizza



At 10Best, we're always on the lookout for Boulder'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 near Boulder, we head to Zucca,  with a 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.

For simplistic elegance, visit Arugula de Ristorante and be sure to sample their decadent cheese and cured meats. If you're wandering Pearl Street and have a craving for some "za", Pizzaria Locale offers enchanting patio seating and delicious pizza concoctions straight from their brick oven.

For a more laidback and salt-of-the-earth atmosphere, venture to Backcountry Pizza where there are more than 50 beers on tap, the pizzas are as big as car tires, and the traditional Italian dishes are sure to please. Whether you're looking for a black tie evening or a jeans and t-shirt kinda night, allow 10 Best to wine and dine you to a bella notte of your very own.


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Black Cat


Black Cat is the epitome of a Farm-to-Table restaurants, in fact that's what this Boulder favorite is known for. Pulling fresh, seasonal, ingredients from their 130 acre farm paradise situated just outside Boulder, Chef Eric Skokan and his wife, Jill, harvest their farm everyday to bring from-the-vine delights. They also raise sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and ducks. One of our favorites, the Beet Potato Napoleon features quinoa cereal crust, elderberry gastrique,house made ricotta, and spinach. Want to splurge a little? Try their Colorado Beef Ribeye complete with orange scented oats, carrots, and crisp capers. Keep in mind that this Farm-to-Table gem prepares seasonal delights, so their menu is ever-changing, meaning you can always find something new and fresh.

Recommended for Italian because: Black Cat is known for whipping up inventive Italian dishes in it's not-solely-Italian kitchen.

Hope's expert tip: The Beet and Potato Napoleon is to-die-for- delicious.

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Located within walking distance of Folsom Field, you'll quench your thirst with one ( or several) of their many beer options. Gigantic pizzas, and scrumptious pasta concoctions will satisfy any Italian craving, this local dive is a favorite for beer and pizza lovers alike. The Chicken Parmesan and Meatball Sub are both excellent options for those who like traditional Italian, and for those who'd like to go the more adventurous route, The Hot Mob: ham, salami, pepperoni, lettuce, tomatoes, provolone, and Italian dressing. Our personal favorite, the Nediterranean, blends pesto & red sauce, pine nuts, garlic, roasted red peppers, artichokes, kalamata olives, feta to create one of the most hearty and mouthwatering pizzas in the west.

Recommended for Italian because: Backcountry offers amazing pasta dishes, pizza, and calzones along with one of the best beer selections in town.

Hope's expert tip: Blend an American and Italian experience by ordering the Nediterranean Pizza ( named after Boulder's neighboring mountain town, Nederland) and beer.

Read more about Backcountry Pizza & Tap House →


Bácaro Ristorante


This Pearl Street restaurant offers Tuscan cuisine served in softly lit, contemporary surroundings. Start with a Parmesan cheese basket lightly fried to retain its shape and then filled with polenta and saut�ed wild mushrooms. Pasta dishes include spinach fettuccine with chicken cream sauce and seafood linguine with fresh basil in a light tomato sauce. One superb dish features free-range chicken breast rolled in Parma prosciutto with radicchio and smoked mozzarella and served with warm zucchini. Known for exceptional service, you're sure to be treated to an authentic and hospitable Italian dining experience. If you prefer to drink your dessert, be sure to try the fruity and sweet sangria.

Recommended for Italian because: Bacaro is known for its fresh ingredients, including its free-range chicken landing it one our list.

Hope's expert tip: Barco's sangria will make you swoon.

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Frasca


Warm, inviting, and possessed of an elegant rusticity, Frasca has taken Boulder by storm. At the helm are chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey, both formerly under the tutelage of Thomas Keller (of California's French Laundry). The result of this illustrious pairing is exquisite Italian cuisine modeled after the fare of Friuli, a northeastern region. Start your meal with a savory salumi plate (a variety of house-cured meats), followed by a first course of handmade russet potato gnocchi or grilled tuna in parmesan vinaigrette. Main courses include butter-roasted snapper and tagliatelle with veal sausage. On Mondays, diners delight in a three-course tasting menu for $35.

Recommended for Italian because: Frasca offers some of the best Italian dessert in Boulder with a wine list that compliments.

Hope's expert tip: Mondays serves up a three-course tasting menu for just $35.

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Nick n Willy's Pizza


The unique Italian pies at this pizza parlor come in a variety of scrumptious formulations. Among the options are ones that feature their olive oil glaze, fresh basil and oregano, and cheeses that range from mozzarella and fontina to Swiss and gorgonzola. Carnivores often enjoy Little Nell's Chicken BBQ, topped with tender poultry, red onion, and fresh cilantro. For a vegetarian option that's out of this world, try the Earth born: Fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, cheddar/provolone, marinated artichoke hearts, black olives, mushrooms, green and red peppers, red onions, roma tomatoes. Or, for something a bit more on the wild side, try the Wild Willy combo with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, cheddar/ provolone, Italian sausage, salami, Canadian bacon, pepperoni, seasoned beef, mushrooms, black olives, green and red peppers, red onions, roma tomatoes.

Recommended for Italian because: Nick n Willy's is the best take-home pizza hands down! 10-15 minutes in the oven and you have an Italian masterpiece.

Hope's expert tip: The Earthborn will elevate your senses rather than leaving you grounded.

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The Mediterranean Restaurant


If you're in the mood for variety, this locally owned gem is the place for you. Not only does The Med serve up a taste of Italy, but you can also take a tour of Spanish, French, and Greek cuisine having never left Boulder. Known for, but not limited to, its fresh, wood oven pizzas and hot-out-of-the bakery bread which is made fresh daily, this eclectic restaurant offers more than just carbs. Be sure to try their Kabob made with your choice of lamb, chicken, or shrimp and flavored to perfection with garlic hummus, tabouleh, basmati rice, seared greens, grilled flat bread & tzatziki. Stop by at happy hour to peruse a to-die-for wine list.

Recommended for Italian because: Featuring one of the best happy hours in town, The Med is your perfect spot for an Italian fix complete with sangria.

Hope's expert tip: Try the Med's savory Greek Kabob and be sure to stop in for their well-known and frequented happy-hour.

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Pizzeria Locale


Located on enchanting Pearl Street, this pizzeria mixes traditional Italian elegance and charm with some American edge and swagger. Among their mouthwatering concoctions you'll find the Vesuvius, a lite tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad that will leave you refreshed, and more than ready for a glass of one of Pizzeria Locale's ostentatious wines. And, for the main course, may we suggest the Filetto pizza, complete with sweet cherry tomatoes, creamy burrata cheese, pungent garlic, fresh basil, and parmigiano reggiano ( we could call it plain, old, Parmesan, but that wouldn't quite describe Pizzeria Locale's take on this well-known cheese). Salute!

Recommended for Italian because: Alba Ristorante offers a warm atmosphere, a delightful wine list, and plenty of Italian carbs to get you through your eventful evening.

Hope's expert tip: Grab a patio seat and order up the Vesuvious salad for starters, then move onto the main event with the Filetto pizza.

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Zucca Italian Ristorante makes its home in the quaint, Mayberry-like downtown area of Louisville, Colo., just 15 minutes from Boulder. Their light and fresh lunch menu featured Italian favorites such as calamari, bruschetta, and an assortment of panini breads, while their dinner menu brings on the pasta! Spaghetti and Meatballs, Lasagna, and Fettuccine with a Vodka sauce are just a few of the decadent dinner delights ready for indulgence. Zucca also offers a killer Happy Hour everyday from 4pm-6pm where you can sip on one of their fine wines and nibble on one of their delicious pizzas. Bottles of wine are also 25% off during this time.

Recommended for Italian because: Locally owned Zucca provides the light and fresh Italian cousin options, as well as the thick-sauced and decadent items in an elegant atmosphere.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to check out Zucca's awesome Happy Hour everyday from 4pm-6pm.

Read more about Zucca Italian Ristorante →


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Meet Hope Gately

Hope Gately should have a bumper sticker proclaiming "Not a Native...But I Got Here as Fast as I Could!" A transplant from the Midwest, Hope has fallen in love with Colorado's mountains playing...  More About Hope

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