This week on Goodtaste, we’re taking a (cyber) trip to Italy! For a taste of Italy in your own backyard, check out these phenomenal Italian restaurants right here in Texas. Try fresh pastas, gooey arancini and wood-fired pizza from your own home state – no plane ticket required. Here, our top picks for Italian food in Texas!
Photo Credit: Eater
First off, we can’t say enough about the taste of authentic Northern Italian cooking at Nonna Osteria in San Antonio. Don’t miss the delicate ribbons of homemade pasta tossed in butter and Parmesan cheese and topped with shaved truffles. Not to mention a wide array of Italian wines. Try the homemade gnocchi with King Trumpet mushrooms and fork-tender pork belly from former Food Network Star, Luca della Casa. He is all about recreating the food from his Italian grandmother’s table at this charming trattoria with a buzzy rooftop bar.
Photo Credit: B.B. Italia
Carmelo Mauro was born in Taormina, Sicily. In 1978, he moved to Houston with his wife Hilary and their eldest daughter Luisa to open his own restaurant. By 1981, they had opened the first Carmelo’s Ristorante on Memorial Drive. Today you can still dine at this long-standing H-town classic and try local favorites like the creamy Lemon Risotto with Alaskan King Salmon and jumbo lump crab meat.
Photo Credit: Shell’s Pasta
Headed to the beach? Head to Shell’s Pasta & Seafood in Port A, a modest restaurant that goes beyond your typical beach fare. The food here draws from European, Asian and Italian cooking for their creative pastas and local seafood dishes. This spot was THE gathering place for locals after Hurricane Harvey. Now, it’s THE spot for delicious food on the island.
Photo Credit: Venetian Hot Plate
Don’t miss the authentic Italian food at Venetian Hot Plate. Opened in 1995 by owners originally from Venice, Venetian Hot Plate is very popular, so reservations are recommended. Signature dishes include the misto mare (mixed seafood), and beef medallions with a gorgonzola cream sauce. As expected, the accompanying wine list is worth exploring.
Photo Credit: Pieous
Bite into a little slice of heaven at Pieous in Austin, where the pizza is so good, it has earned a stamp of approval from the Italian government! This Dripping Springs “congregation” of delicious Italian eats is the creation of a Los Angeles couple who left the music business to sing the praises of wood-fired pizza. You’ll love their Neapolitan-style pies like the Margherita with hand-pulled mozzarella, fresh basil, and organic crushed tomatoes. It’s so good you’ll swear it’s from a “higher power”! Make sure you don’t leave without one of their homemade pastries and desserts – the tiramisu rivals what you’ll find in Italy.
Photo Credit: Prego
Go ahead, indulge a little – or A LOT – at Prego. This tiny kitchen in the heart of Rice Village in Houston has been turning out fresh pastas, wood-fired pizzas, Gulf seafood and decadent desserts for over 30 years! The wine list is also impressive and extensive – there are more than 220 Italian and New World wines.
Photo Credit: Orlando’s
New York-style Italian meets New Mexico at Orlando’s Italian Restaurant, a beloved college town hot spot in Lubbock. Here you can dive into cheesy pizzas loaded with Hatch chiles and pasta slicked with habanero-garlic butter. Dixie Chick fans: wait until you hear who once worked here! Natalie Maines was the most famous waitress that worked there, owner Lloyd Turner said she was a good waitress “she’s got a mouth, she can sing, and it, of course, got her into trouble later”.