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.
Recommended for Italian because: This regional chain excels with good service, a fun atmosphere and great food.
Hollie's expert tip: Be sure to check out their other location in Cool Springs if you are south of the city.
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.
Recommended for Italian because: Once people try this tucked away gem in Bellevue, they make sure to come back again and again.
Hollie's expert tip: While they will accommodate walk-ins, it's best to call ahead and secure a set of your own. Also, dress a little nicer than you would for most places in town - it's okay to get a bit gussied up at Antonio's.
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).
Recommended for Italian because: Customers still flock to this BYOB spot after 20 years for their straightforward, simple pasta dishes.
Hollie's expert tip: Ignore the gas station-side location and order any of the straightforward dishes. And not to worry if you show up forgetting they don't serve alcohol. The liquor store a walk away will have you covered.
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.
Recommended for Italian because: Valentino's still holds its own among the Italian restaurant boom thanks to their bold flavors and fresh ingredients, even after nearly 25 years.
Hollie's expert tip: Try one of the three new flatbreads for only $10.
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.
Recommended for Italian because: Driven by their love of Italian culture, you won;t find anything that isn't totally authentic on their shelves on on their menu.
Hollie's expert tip: Between courses browse the market for cheese and meat selections for treats to take home, and make time to play a game of Bocce after fresh gelato. In a hurry? Grab a prepackaged meal to go for yourself or a handful for dinner guests.
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.
Recommended for Italian because: For more than 10 years Caffe Nonna has been a staple on Murphy Road with die-hard fans of their pastas and sauces.
Hollie's expert tip: Can't get enough Caffe Nonna? Be sure to buy some jars of their gourmet sauces on the way our, with proceeds benefiting the St. Jude Children's Hospital.
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.
Recommended for Italian because: While the regional dishes like stuffed trout deliver on deliciousness, their pizzas are sublime, especially when topped with a runny, sunny-side up egg.
Hollie's expert tip: Try one of their signature cocktails, boozy or unleaded! They're divine.
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.
Recommended for Italian because: Not just capitalizing on a trend, Mangia does supper club dining just right - family style and totally delicious.
Hollie's expert tip: Underground dining is not-so-secret, so plan far in advance if you want one of the coveted seats. But if you just can't commit and live for the moment, call Friday and Saturday mornings to see if you can snap up a cancellation.