Top 10 Italian restaurants in the Twin Cities

Categories: Top 10

pastaoftheday.jpg
Mmmmm....pasta
School's in session, the sun is setting earlier in the evening, and there's a distinct chill in the early morning air. There's no denying it--autumn is upon us. Gone are the days when all you feel like eating are crisp salads and cups of frozen yogurt. Whether you're looking to fuel up for fall sporting events, or just to pack on a little insulation for the frigid days to come, nothing beats an Italian restaurant when it comes time to carb up. Here are ten of our local favorites.

Bar La Grassa Dining Room CR: Kara Buckner x 200.jpg
1. Bar La Grassa
No matter how hip and bespectacled the faces are in Bar La Grassa's always-busy waiting area, the cuisine that this nationally recognized restaurant serves up is centered on something that's been a favorite of carb lovers for centuries: pasta. Whether he's working with dried or fresh, executive chef (and James Beard award-winner) Isaac Becker has an incredible knack for knowing just what to do with noodles of every shape. Large, hollow tubes of paccheri are the perfect match for shreds of tender and fragrant saffron milk-braised chicken, semi-circles of agnolotti make an ideal home for earthy mushrooms and Taleggio cheese, and wide ribbons of pappardelle are the obvious choice to stand up to the slow-cooked intensity of veal ragu. It's not just the pasta that's noteworthy. In addition to nicely crusted, fall-off-the-bone, St. Louis-style ribs, the elegant simplicity of the soft scrambled eggs and lobster bruschetta is an experience every Twin Cities resident should have at least once.

800 N. Washington Ave, Minneapolis; 612.333.3837
Website

broderspasta.jpg
2. Broder's Pasta Bar
If you want to eat an affordable plate of pasta, you have dozens of options around the area. If you want to eat a craftily concocted, beautifully presented, top-quality, affordable plate of pasta, your best bet is heading out to Broders' Pasta Bar and sampling the ever-changing variety of egg pasta dishes (from noodles prepared fresh daily) or imported semolina-based artisan pasta dishes. While the menu presents a seasonally aware, rotating extravaganza of Italian food, some evergreens call out to regular Broders' diners. The kicky, outrageously fresh-tasting penne alla puttanesca, for example, and the reliably bright and vivid linguine con pesto Genovese are guaranteed to keep pasta lovers streaming out of Broders' overstuffed parking lot and through the front doors. They don't take reservations, so wear your patient pants, knowing the wait will be worth it when you twirl that first bite of housemade pasta around your fork.

5000 Penn Ave S., Minneapolis; 612.925.9202
Website

i nonni interior.jpg
3. I Nonni
The veal shank osso bucco at I Nonni is the sort of dish that lingers in your memory...the tenderness of the braised meat, the rich, buttery marrow you scooped from the bone with a tiny spoon. I Nonni also offers fresh seafood; homemade gnocchi with tomato, basil, and ricotta; Brussels sprouts with crisp bits of pancetta; and paper-thin beef carpaccio piled with sharp arugula, shaved Parmesan, olive oil, and served with a whole lemon to squeeze on top. It's cuisine inspired by the Italian grandparents, or i nonni, of the owners, the Marchionda family, who founded the beloved Buon Giorno Italian Market and sourced more than 400 small-production, regional Italian wines to pair. The authentic meals are served in a dining room that's decidedly modern: glowingly lit, with vaulted ceilings, and windows looking into those of the neighboring McMansions.

981 Sibley Memorial Hwy, Lilydale; 651.905.1081
Website


Location Info

Bar La Grassa

800 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Music

Broders' Pasta Bar

5000 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

I Nonni

981 Sibley Memorial Highway, West St. Paul, MN

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
23 comments
nocciola
nocciola

this review stinks. what about http://luciancora.com/ st paul? that was the first italian restaurant in the twin cities 20+ years ago and still remains the best with its commitment to executing italian food authentically. 

Voice Places
Voice Places

Tim, which two Italian places on the list have you already visited?

Steven Gareri
Steven Gareri

Fall is the time of year for us Italian Americans to organize the harvest of the garden. I enjoy Al Vento's fall menu. Forza Azzurri!

Scoops
Scoops

I think Prima is the most underrated Italian restaurant in cities. I've never had a bad dish there! 

cwethern
cwethern

@MoMoPerry "Italian restaurants in the Twin Cities are too safe! Not risky enough! Need to be bolder!"

andrewzimmern
andrewzimmern

@markdewes The @hotdishblog is way off base, agreed. Everyone entitled to opinion but @parma8200 is EASILY one of better Italians in town

Aaron_Dick24
Aaron_Dick24

@ann_palzer: the link did not work ... Did you see something u like?

Gnocchi.Me
Gnocchi.Me

We got snubbed! JK. Rinata Restaurant and Broders' Pasta Bar are two of our all time favs! Not to mention the Gnocchi w/ cauliflower and orange at Bar La Grassa... mmmm

Ben Kennedy
Ben Kennedy

Trattoria Da Vinci needs to be on this list.

Tim Burkhardt
Tim Burkhardt

I do love Italian (despite my self-imposed aversion to carbs)... I've visited 2 of these, so now I have an expanded "hit list" to work from. (apologies to 'da mob)

MoMoPerry
MoMoPerry

@texaszeller @AlVentoMN I considered adding Al Vento, but went with Rinata (same owners) instead. Tough call, though!

OG4Lyfe
OG4Lyfe

No mention of Olive Garden? FOR SHAME!

MoMoPerry
MoMoPerry

@cwethern I want Italian restaurants to make me think, not just entertain my tastebuds. Let's host a forum to discuss! I'll bring cannoli!

ferrara_d
ferrara_d

@andrewzimmern Hi Andrew- I'm wayyyy late to this party, but what's ON this list is more troubling to me than what is not... Cossetta's? Seriously?? People should wander a few blocks down to DeGidio's, where at least they'll get a GLIMPSE of real Italian food. 

Stevens
Stevens

@andrewzimmern 

I was hoping Parma8200 was not on this list and thank goodness it was not.  Biaggi's in Eden Prairie is much better and cheaper.  The meal was terrible when I went a year ago.

cynsan76
cynsan76

@andrewzimmern good afternoon.Andrew .iron chefs America and that was not fair .you should have 1 . :(

markdewes
markdewes

@andrewzimmern Thank you, sir. I respect other's taste buds but when I see D'Amico takeout at #7, there's something wrong w the list.

texaszeller
texaszeller

@MoMoPerry @AlVentoMN ok, i can understand that, suffice to say we have some good Italian restaurants in the cities

cwethern
cwethern

@MoMoPerry Now, granted, I've only been to one, but what I had was really disappointing, ergo THE RESTAURANT SCENE IS IN SAD SHAPE!

AlVentoMN
AlVentoMN

@texaszeller Thanks for speaking up for us with @MoMoPerry!

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