If you’re looking for the best Italian restaurants in the Twin Cities, look no further. Between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the variety of Italian eats can be overwhelming! I’ve narrowed it down to the ten best restaurants, each with their own spin on the cuisine.
Relatively new, this little Italian joint has taken the neighborhood by storm. Reservations are hard to come by, as the space is small, but once you’re there you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the Mediterranean with the crisp white walls, antique dishes, and pops of blue. The food is really very good, I’d go back in a heartbeat. What I love about their menu is that it’s different every time I visit because it changes with the seasons. One thing that does remain though is the Cacio e Pepe, a typical Roman pasta made of pecorino cheese and pepper. Don’t be afraid to try something new at Hyacinth, I can assure you everything will be divine.
2. La Grolla
This is my favorite Italian establishment in Cathedral Hill. It’s prime location on Selby Avenue, just a few blocks from the Cathedral, boasts cozy indoor seating and a patio that is more like a secret garden. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion of just in the mood for classic Italian choices, La Grolla is the right place. They always deliver perfect ambiance and impeccable service. Our family knows our waitress by name! For that real Italian experience, end your meal by sipping limoncello, a lemon-flavored liqueur that hails from Southern Italy.
3. Punch Neapolitan Pizza
It would be impossible to create this list without mentioning Punch Pizza. Punch is one of the very few pizzerias outside of Italy with the Vera Pizza Napoletana certification, so you can be assured it is authentic. I have eaten at the best pizzeria in Naples (yes, the one famously shown in Eat, Pray, Love) and Punch is just as delicious!
What’s even better is that they now have 12 locations across the Twin Cities. My favorite, however, is the original location in Highland Park in Saint Paul. This is the only location with sit-down service, and a larger menu. Little secret: the pizzas are even two inches larger at this location. If you’ve never been to Punch before, start with the Punch salad and opt for a Toto or Toscano pizza. If it’s a hot summer day, go with the Mimi.
4. Rinata Restaurant
I almost didn’t want to include this place because it’s my secret spot, but it should be shared with the world. Located right on Hennepin Avenue, the noise of Uptown is lost once you walk through the door. It feels like you’re in a small Italian trattoria instead. From the drinks to the food to the great happy hour pricing, there’s every reason to return. They even do a great Sunday date night menu, and the same on special holidays like New Years Eve.
5. Broders’ Pasta Bar
Let me tell you, this place is so worth the inevitable wait. The menu is highly authentic and inventive, and people go crazy over it. It’s the only Italian restaurant in the cities where I’ve found wild boar (a common find in Tuscany where wild boars are overpopulated). If the wait is too long or you’d rather eat at home, they have great takeout options and family-sized dishes available just across the street.
This is a spot that’s new to me but is part of the Broders’ family of Italian restaurants, so I knew it had to be good. The carbonara is what lured me in on the menu, but surprisingly the cheese and side of vegetables were my favorite part of the meal. I think what really sold me on Terzo too was the “welcome bite” guests are offered upon arrival. What a sweet idea! With an extensive wine list and a prime location in South Minneapolis, I’m not surprised this place is always busy.
Ever the establishment for Italian comfort food, Cossetta’s always feels like home. I’ve had many family dinners there, and there’s just something so special about the history (and the ricotta covered mostaccioli). With a cafeteria style set-up, plus a pasticceria and Italian market, you will leave feeling full and satisfied, possibly with a gelato in hand. I usually go for the tortellini, which is covered in a creamy sauce and topped with pancetta and parsley. If you’re headed to an event in downtown Saint Paul, this is the place to be.
8. Louis Ristorante & Bar
If you’re looking for something a little less casual, but still want the comfort of Italian cuisine, head up to Louis Ristorante & Bar on the third floor of Cossetta’s. Downtown Saint Paul doesn’t have many rooftops, but this is one to brag about. Its magical setting over West Seventh, plus the Cathedral views, can’t be beat. They make traditional dishes like sausage and polenta, and a spaghetti al pomodoro that rivals any I’ve had in Italy. If you’re just there for an appetizer, I recommend the torta fritta which is fried bread served with San Daniele prosciutto. Truly heavenly!
9. Italian Eatery
I had been wanting to try this place for so long because their Instagram is a work of art, and I finally had the chance last summer. It’s a lovely little joint near Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, and was definitely a favorite after just one visit. The prices are very reasonable for the high quality, and pasta can be ordered in half or full sizes. Everything we ordered was delicious, the patio was lovely, and the service was timed just like it is in Italy, nice and slow so you can actually enjoy your company.
10. Due Focacceria
The duo behind Italian Eatery opened a second location called Due, which means “two” in Italian. They took over the small corner lot on Fairview and Randolph in Saint Paul and have made it into something beautiful. Options range from sandwiches on their homemade focaccia, to take away pasta, sauces, and pizza kits. There is an adorable walk-up window if you’d rather take everything to-go.
If you stay, the drink options include classic cocktails with modern twists, Italian wines, and local craft beer, so there’s something to please everyone. If you’re more of a breakfast person, hit up Due on the weekend for their “cafe hour,” where the menu includes flat whites and cappuccinos with bomboloni (Italian style donuts) and breakfast focaccia.
With so many Italian restaurants to choose from in the Twin Cities, I hope this list helps you narrow down your choices next time you head to dinner. Let me know your other favorite Italian spots in the comments below!
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Images via @theartfuleveryday on Instagram.
Maggie is the blogger behind The Artful Everyday, a travel and lifestyle blog dedicated to living intentionally and finding beauty in the ordinary. She loves the idea that we get to escape our normal lives when we travel, and that it allows us to be more open to the world and its cultures. Maggie lived in Florence while studying abroad, then was an au pair in Rome last fall. She is very passionate about traveling in Europe, especially Italy, and living abroad. Maggie studied Interior Design at the University of Minnesota, but is currently pursuing a career in writing.