Brooklyn is home to a large Italian population and many neighborhoods are considered unofficial Little Italys, including the trendy Carroll Gardens neighborhood, which was the setting for the 1980s classic film Moonstruck. Bay Ridge, another Little Italy, was the backdrop for the 1970s film Saturday Night Fever. The Italian influence on Brooklyn can also be seen at the popular annual carrying of the Giglio at the OLMC Feast in Williamsburg and many other events throughout the borough. But if you want a true authentic Italian experience, you should have a meal at one of Brooklyn's best Italian restaurants.
With numerous Italian restaurants offering great eats, it's hard to choose one. To help you out, we've picked ten of the best Italian restaurants in Brooklyn. From classic red sauce joints to new artisanal takes on traditional cuisine, there is a restaurant for every palate. And if you're in the mood for a slice of pizza or an artisanal pizza, we also have you covered.
This newcomer to Park Slope/Prospect Heights is housed in the old Franny's Pizzeria. Although Fausto isn't a casual pizzeria, but a more upscale Italian restaurant, this new spot has pleased locals. Noted for fresh pastas and cuisine inspired by the local farmer's market, Fausto also has a well curated wine list. After your meal, take a walk around the scenic Park Slope streets filled with charming brownstones.
This highly rated Williamsburg Italian restaurant, run by chef Missy Robbins, is housed in a former auto body shop on Union Avenue. If you want to dine on ricotta gnocchi, broccoli pesto, grilled clams, Calabrian chili and other delectable eats from their menu of tasteful food, you must book a reservation at least a month in advance. If you can't score a dinner reservation at Lilia, you can stop by their cafe, which opens at 7:00 a.m. and serves Italian espresso or cappuccino, house-made pastries, foccacia and sandwiches. In the afternoon, have a torte or gelato.
Since 1998, this Park Slope staple is a local favorite. Run by Emiliano Coppa and Chef Anna Klinger, al di la trattoria, has a menu of Northern Italian influence. Using ingredients from local farmers, the food is fresh and consistently top rate. Dine on entrees including Tortilla Di Zucca, a homemade ravioli filled with roasted squash and mascarpone, or Saltimbocca alla Romana, a boneless pork loin scallopine with sage leaves and prosciutto, served with sautéed potatoes. It's located on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, known as the area's restaurant row, so after dinner, enjoy a post meal stroll down this strip.
Located in Carroll Gardens, a neighborhood filled with classic old-school Italian restaurants, this casual yet sophisticated eatery opened in 2004 and has been perpetually packed with locals. Frankies 457 Spuntino has a stellar wine menu, which is perfect to pair with their menu of salads, house-made pasta, crostini and other Italian fare. Meat eaters must order their famous meatballs. The restaurant gets crowded and they don't take reservations for groups under eight people, so get there early to get a table. In the summer months, grab a table in their charming, picturesque backyard.
Ferdinando's Focaccia, located on Union Street in the Carroll Gardens waterfront district, is a classic. The restaurant opened in 1904 and serves some of the tastiest Sicilian food in NYC. Order their famous panelle sandwich (fried chickpeas) or a rice ball at this old fashioned family-owned restaurant. After you've finished, you might want to walk down the block to Mazzola Bakery for some good Italian bread to bring back home or a few blocks further down the road is Pastericceria Monteleone, which has some of the tastiest pastries and cakes in Brooklyn.
Order the clams casino, the pork cutlet parmigiana, and other old-school favorites at this classic Williamsburg Italian restaurant, which will make you feel as if you stepped back in time. From the vintage cigarette machine in the bar to the tuxedoed waiters, this restaurant evokes charm and New York City history. The ambiance is as good as the cuisine.
Il Passatore Trattoria
After a trip checking out the graffiti art in Bushwick and other fun spots in this arty 'hood, head to this neighborhood favorite Italian restaurant. Vegetarians will love their menu of many veggie-friendly options, including vegetarian lasagna, gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and walnuts and many other vegetarian dishes. Il Passatore Trattoria also serves brunch—get the piadina (flat bread) with eggs, mozzarella and prosciutto di Parma.
Monte's, located in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, has a menu of classic Italian food and pizza. The restaurant opened in 1906. It truly evokes authentic, old-world charm. Order a pizza or try one of their traditional Italian specialities. Although they have a dessert menu, you might want to head to Ample Hills, which is a short walk away, for some fresh, inventive ice cream flavors.
Since the 1960s, this old-school Italian restaurant has been serving up the classics. Michael's is a Brooklyn institution and although it's located deep in Brooklyn (near Sheepshead Bay), it's worth the trip. The menu is filled with all the classics, as well as a notable seafood and meat menu. If you can't make it to Michael's, you can try to cook some of their dishes at home using their popular jarred tomato sauce. If you're heading to Brooklyn to host an event, Michael's is a great space for private events.
With a reasonably priced menu that offers excellent Italian basics (like a perfect spaghetti marinara and melt-in-your-mouth homemade gnocchi), locals come for the great food while tourists looking for a bite to eat are often pleasantly surprised when they stumble upon the humble-looking hotspot. Reservations aren't accepted, though, so expect a wait. Also, it's cash only.